Facebook Ads Frequency Capping : Everything You Need To Know

Does it sometimes feel like you see the same Facebook ad over and over again? Do you wonder if other people feel that way about your Facebook ads?

If you’ve done any display or video advertising before, frequency is a commonly used metric and has been for many years. In the world of advertising frequency is the number of times a unique individual saw your advertising. The method Facebook uses to calculate this number is impressions divided by reach. Impressions is the number of times your ad is shown and reach is the number of people that see your ads.

At RelayPM, we work primarily with performance driven advertisers and while we monitor ad frequency, we don’t typically report this number to clients. However, if you’re running branding campaigns on Facebook this is a commonly used metric to track performance. Recently a client of ours was concerned our frequency was too high because it felt like they were constantly seeing their own ads. We put together this article to clear up the information.

Most of the research out there, and if you have ever taken a marketing or advertising class you would be taught this, is that people need to see an advertisement more than once. There is also a law of diminishing return where if you continue to show someone the same ad after so many times if they haven’t taken an action, they aren’t going to. Across all advertising mediums (not just Facebook) generally the consensus from research is somewhere in the realm of 3-7 ad exposures per person is ideal.

A study last year was done by Social Media Today where they looked at data across 10,000 ads and calculated cost per acquisition based on ad frequency. Their data shows the peak ad frequency is shown to be between 1.8 and 4 views on average. See the full article here.

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Can A High Ad Frequency On Facebook Negatively Impact You?

The primary place that ad frequency comes into play with your advertising is with the relevancy score. Facebook users can submit ad feedback on what they are seeing. If they see the same ads over and over again they may choose to let Facebook know. Negative feedback can impact your relevancy score which can drive up the cost you pay to advertise on Facebook. This is something you should keep an eye on in your account. If you see your relevancy scores declining as your frequency increases, you should definitely address this.

Can An Advertiser Control Their Ad Frequency On Facebook?

As mentioned earlier, if you’re used to running traditional video or display advertising, in the vast majority of cases you have complete control over your ad frequency. Unfortunately with Facebook this isn’t the case. If you look at the campaign objectives in Facebook, most of them you cannot control your ad frequency.

If you want to control your ad frequency you must run a reach or brand awareness campaign objective. The campaign types below show which you can control frequency on, but they are all part of the reach or brand awareness campaign objective.

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Here’s what the option looks like on your ad set settings:

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What are some ways to limit frequency for other campaign types?

Facebook’s primary responsibility is to keep their users coming back. If their users get annoyed by their feed, the may lose them. One of the ways Facebook helps with this is since their inception they’ve always limited the frequency of ads automatically. According to a Facebook rep: your page’s fans can see your ad up to 4 times a day, and non-fans could be exposed to an ad up to 2 times a day. Keep in mind this is per ad set. To help limit per advertiser, a person will not see ads from a single page more than once every 2 hours on Facebook and for Instagram a person won’t seen an ad from the same advertiser more than once every 3 hours.

Audience size also plays a major factor in your ad frequency. You’ll notice in most cases the small the audience you’re targeting, the higher than ad frequency will be. Facebook recommends targeting audiences between 1 and 3 million users to help limit frequency.

If you have any other questions about Facebook ad types or ad frequency, feel free to send us a message and we would be happy to help.

Bing Ads: Are They Worth the Trouble?

While Google is the most popular search engine on the web, believe it or not, a pretty good amount of people use other search engines as well. One of these is Bing.

If you're advertising your goods or services online using paid search marketing, also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, then you may want to consider using Bing Ads for some of your efforts. Despite a lower user base, there are enough people using Bing to make it worth your while.

Bing also offers some advantages for advertisers compared to Google.

Below we'll tell you about some of the advantages of advertising with Bing and why it may just be worth the trouble after all.

1. Cheaper and Less Competitive

One of the best things about using Bing Ads is that not many other marketers are. This means that there will be less competition for you and it also means that Bing offers lower costs per click (CPC).

If you're a business that is advertising on a budget, then you'll likely find it much easier to manage your costs with Bing than you would with Google AdWords, which can sometimes be pretty pricey.

2. Higher Conversion Rates

Perhaps because Bing users are less computer savvy, higher conversion rates are common with Bing Ad campaigns as well. Users are more likely to click and convert on Bing Ads than with Google AdWords campaigns. Because of this, if you're serious about trying to optimize your conversion rates, then you may want to consider using Bing instead

This is a big benefit because even though there may not be as much traffic overall with Bing, the traffic that does see your ad will be more likely to convert or become a customer in the end.

3. Better Targeting Features

While Google AdWords does have quite a bit of targeting features and options for optimizing and tweaking campaigns there are places where Google could improve. Luckily, Bing picks up the slack exactly where many of the Google AdWords issues are.

For example, with Bing, you'll have much more control at both the campaign level and at the ad group level. You'll be able to target location, scheduling, language and network settings in both areas.

Additionally, with Bing, you'll also have more extensive options for choosing what devices to target and what search demographics you want your ads to be shown to. 

4. More Search Partner Control

With Bing, you'll also have more control over search partner settings. While Google gives you the option to show ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) only or on SERPS and search partners, Bing offers you the option to choose one or the other, or both.

This can be a huge plus for businesses who find that their ads fare well on search partner pages but not so well in search engine results.

5. A New Traffic Source

Another reason you may want to consider using Bing Ads in addition to Google AdWords is simply that it opens up new options for who you can target with your advertising campaigns.

Typically, the average internet user chooses a search engine and sticks with it. This means that if you've been running your ads on Google for a long time, many people will have likely seen your ad multiple times before. If you want to reach completely fresh faces, using Bing is a great way to do it since the audiences will overlap very little.

Deciding If Bing Ads Are Right For Your Business

While many businesses will want to use Google AdWords, there are cases where Bing Ads can make a good choice as well, particularly when used in conjunction with Google ads.

You'll want to consider the advantages listed above carefully when deciding if Bing is right for you. Make sure you do some testing and experimenting with both ad networks before you make the final call.

Looking for help with your eCommerce marketing strategy? Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Google Ads Smart Shopping: How Smart Are They?

What are smart shopping campaigns?

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On May 3, 2018 Google Ads announced a new type of shopping campaign, called Smart Shopping. Continuing on their path of releasing new products driven by machine learning, Smart Shopping campaigns allow you to hand over your shopping ad management to the machines. At the root of the product, what separates them the most from traditional shopping campaigns is that the ads don’t just run on Google search, they also run on Youtube, Google display network & gmail. As we continually see in eCommerce product touch points are increasing and this product takes advantage of that.

The second feature that separates Smart Shopping from traditional shopping campaigns is that they are fully automated. While there could have been an option for Google to expand shopping campaigns to enable the advertiser to choose to expand the networks the ads run on, they chose not to. We would love to see this feature added in the future.

The third feature is that because they also run on the display network, Google chose to include remarketing (with no opt out). The intention is that you no longer need to run Shopping and Remarketing campaigns, only Smart Shopping.

That all sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

What are the downsides to smart shopping campaigns?

Smart shopping campaigns are a black box. The advertiser gets no insight into whether the ads ran on search, display network or gmail. All you see is "cross-network” for placement data. There is also no audience data shared. How much of your budget is being spent on remarketing? No idea and no way to find out.

You cannot do any of the following with Smart Shopping campaigns:

  1. Add negative keywords

  2. Change location targeting (feed runs in country targeted in the merchant center)

  3. Adjust bids by device

  4. Change ad scheduling

  5. Do anything with audiences

What can the advertiser control?

The advertiser can still see product level performance data which is great, but there’s nothing you can do with the data. When you setup the campaign you get to choose your shopping feed, a budget and ad text. The default bidding type is maximize conversion value, but you can choose a target ROAS if you please.

Here is what the ad setup looks like:

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Can any advertiser run smart shopping campaigns?

The requirements to run Smart Shopping campaigns are:

  1. You must have conversion tracking installed and passing revenue data

  2. You must have the remarketing global site tag installed

  3. You must have at least 20 conversions over the last 45 days across existing shopping campaigns

  4. You need an audience lists of more than 100 users

How do smart shopping campaigns perform?

This is what we’ve all been waiting for isn’t it?

There are certain clients we have tested this on in the past 6 months. You have to be careful because smart shopping campaigns are shown before traditional shopping campaigns. Even though you technically can have both on at the same time, your traditional shopping campaigns will receive almost no impressions.

What we have seen is that half of the clients we’ve tested smart shopping with, we have continued to run long term. Here is one example:

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The results above are over a 30 day period. Traditional shopping campaigns ran for the first 15 and smart shopping for the ladder 15 days. As you can see the cost per conversion dropped from $47.60 to $19.06. What’s interesting is you see similar conversion rates, but the cost per click is dramatically lower on smart shopping. That’s because the Google display network is less expensive to run ads on.

We also have cases where the cost per conversion is almost the same, we have cases where the cost per conversion dropped the same amount, but we lost too much volume and we have cases where the cost per conversion increased. Just like any other advertising products in Google ads: test, test, test.

What else should you know?

The most difficult piece in a real controlled test between traditional shopping and smart shopping is the retargeting portion. At Relay PM, we all but phased out running display retargeting on Google for clients because we’ve seen much better performance with Facbeook ads. It’s difficult to factor that into the campaign performance. The analysis can get complex.

Conclusion

For many advertisers we highly recommend testing this feature. Be aware of all the pros and cons. Be aware it includes retargeting. Understand in most cases you’ll never be able to have a real controlled test. There are too many pieces of data Google doesn’t share.

As we’re able to bring in more data we’ll continue to update this article. Please feel free to message us with any questions.

If you’re looking to test shopping campaigns, let us know.

Yahoo Search Ads: Where Are They Now?

In recent years there’s been constant changes to how pay per click ads are served on Yahoo search. We frequently get the question from clients: what happened to Yahoo, can we still advertise there? For the past few years the short answer has been “you already are.” Yahoo has been serving a mix of Google and/or Bing search ads for the last few years. The caveat here is technically yes, Yahoo has had it’s own search platform where you could buy ads directly through Yahoo Gemini.

In the middle of 2017 Yahoo was acquired by Verizon. It took them a little over a year to make any major changes to their advertising and in the fall of last year they launched Oath. Essentially the combined Brightroll, AOL, & Yahoo advertising options into one. Visit Oath to see more information on their new opportunities. You now have native, search, DSP and exchange buying opportunities. The idea is to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. Read more here about the launch of Oath.

At RelayPM, we tested a few advertisers directly on Yahoo Gemini in recent years, but each time we found that all we were doing was moving those placements from Google & Bing over to Yahoo. In the end we gained no traffic, in most cases paid more and had to manage a third platform. To top it off it was not an easy platform to work with.

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Currently, if you login to your Bing Ads account you can segment by network and see AOL along with Bing & Yahoo search for placement data. (see image). When Yahoo first launched Gemini and was separating from Google and Bing, they struggled getting enough advertisers to move over and it’s been a challenge for years. Like us, most advertisers didn’t see the benefit of managing an entirely separate platform for what we were getting out of it.

This week many in the pay per click advertising industry got what they were hoping for. Search traffic on Yahoo will be completely managed through Bing search ads. See the full press release below.

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This announcement should come as a relief to those in the industry. If you have any questions on this migration and are still running search ads through Yahoo Gemini/Oath please direct them to your Bing rep or feel free to message us anytime on our website. We’ll be happy to help. The migration will begin on March 15, 2019 so you still have plenty of time.

There will be a couple things to look for in the coming months especially if you are not currently running Yahoo Gemini/Oath or even Bing ads. Monitor your traffic on Google for any potential decreases. No one has ever really known exactly how much of Yahoo search ads were served by Google. If you are running Bing ads and Google ads, monitor for any traffic decreases on Google and check to see if you gain those impressions on Bing. Maybe the segment report will begin to break out Bing and Yahoo which would be ideal. It’s always been odd they separate AOL, but combine Bing and Yahoo search networks as one. It’s never made much sense.

Let us know what you see in your accounts.

Facebook Pixel Update Explained: What Is A First Party Cookie?

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If you run any Facebook advertising you've likely gotten an email in the past few weeks with information on a pixel update.  Here's what it says:

Important Facebook Pixel Update

Hi Tom,

On October 24, Facebook will begin offering businesses a first-party cookie option with the Facebook pixel. This change is in line with updates made by other online platforms, as use of first-party cookies for ads and site analytics is becoming the preferred approach by some browsers.

Businesses have long relied on cookies to serve ads to relevant audiences and understand visits to their sites. Up until now, Facebook has used its pixel — powered by third-party cookies — for website analytics, ad targeting, and ad measurement. This new option will also help advertisers, publishers, and developers continue to get accurate analytics about traffic to their websites.

Businesses can opt out of first-party cookies by updating their pixel settings in Events Manager.

The controls people have over ads on Facebook in Ads Preferences will not change. Our Business Tools Terms also still require businesses to clearly disclose how they use cookies and share data collected on their sites with third parties, so we recommend businesses review their cookie-related disclosures. To learn more about this update, visit the Help Center.

You are registered as an admin of these Facebook Ad Accounts which have Facebook pixels:

None. You aren't registered as an admin of a Facebook Ad Account that owns a pixel. Please check any pixels associated with your Business Manager account.

Thanks,

The Facebook Ads Team

What does this mean for you?

For years now since the inception of cookies most ad and analytics platforms use third-party cookies, but recently certain browsers have blocked or announced plans to block third-party cookies because of all the data privacy concerns that have been circulating.  Facebook's latest update is not only in line with their privacy issues, but also on popular browsers.

Let's start from the beginning.

What is a browser cookie?

A cookie is just a small text file that is dropped on your device (typically browser) when you visit a website.  There are many uses for cookies: saved logins, shopping carts, game scores, user profiles, analytics, advertising, ad frequency capping, ad targeting and retargeting.  There is nothing inherently wrong with cookies, but they can be used for shady purposes in regards to user data.  Imagine every time you add a product to your shopping cart on an e-commerce website, you then close your browser and open it back up.  Without cookies you would lose what was in your shopping cart every time.  Imagine logging onto your email app and every single time typing your user-name and password.  That data is all stored through the use of cookies.  

Cookies simplify and customize your web experience.  This also allows advertisers to better target products and services.  This can be as simple as only showing ads regarding pregnancy products to women vs men.

What is the difference between a first-party cookie and a third-party cookie?

From a technical standpoint there is no difference in how they work or the data they can track.  First-party cookies are issues directly by the website a user is visiting while third-party cookies are created by someone else.  For example, if you visited amazon.com and they cookied your browser to track your shopping behavior that would be a first-party cookie.  If they were using a Facebook pixel, historically a Facebook owned cookie would be dropped in your browser.  That's a third-party cookie because you visited Amazon.com, not Facebook.com.  

From a user standpoint, it's difficult to know who's doing what with your data.  Cookies can be blocked as well through private/incognito windows, Safari and Firefox by default blocks third-party cookies, most browsers allow you to customize cookie settings, software to block cookies, and ad blockers.  Relying on third-party cookies is becoming more of a challenge as these blockers are increasing in usage based on the media bringing light to privacy concerns and not necessarily doing the best job in explaining.

Because cookies store user data they have been recognized as a threat to user privacy.  Recently there was a lot of talk about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe which took effect on May 25th this year.  You'll notice a lot of websites you go to now have a privacy/cookie policy announcement which is as a result of this initiative.  

Now back to Facebook the and recent notification all advertising account admins are getting about the latest pixel update to first-party cookies.  The primary driver of this changes is Safari and Firefox changing how they handle third-party cookies where they are automatically blocked, but you can manually opt into them.  This potentially resulted in a lot of lost data for Facebook advertisers.  Facebook switching to first-party cookies eliminates that issue as well as many privacy concerns users may have.  Google and Microsoft already made the change earlier this year.  

How does the Facebook first-party cookie solution work?

When a user clicks on a Facebook served ad a unique string gets added to the URL.  If there are pixels on the website that are opted in to share first-party cookie data with Facebook, the URL parameter will get written into the browser as a first-party cookie.  In the events manager on Facebook ads you'll be able to manage this setting and opt out if you'd like.  This officially launches on October 24th. For the vast majority of advertisers receiving this notification, there is no further action needed.  You may even see improvements in the retargeting data.



If you’d like more information on this or any help with Facebook advertising and pixel management calls us or send us a message. We’re here to help.

Final Notice: Facebook Partner Categories, Less Than 2 Weeks Left

The final notification has been sent and the days are numbered with less than 2 weeks left to use Facebook partner categories.

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For those Facebook advertisers that have either been living under a rock for the past 6 months or have just pretended the announcement didn't happen, we're officially only days away from partner categories being completely gone from Facebook advertising.  Facebook gave us until August 15 to create new ad sets using these targeting options, but as of October 1, no ad sets will deliver to partner categories.  

Since 2013 Facebook has provided access to customer data provided by a select group of third-party partners.  Here is the official list pulled from Facebook:

  • Acxiom, which can provide data from Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the US

  • Acxiom Japan, which can provide data from Japan.

  • CCC Marketing, which can provide data from Japan.

  • Epsilon, which can provide data from the US

  • Experian, which can provide data from Australia, Brazil, the UK and the US

  • Oracle Data Cloud (formerly Datalogix), which can provide data from the UK and the US

  • Quantium, which can provide data from Australia

While there were hundreds of different targeting options that came from these, some of the most popular were: in-market car buyers, purchase history, financial data (income and net worth), likely to move and job roles.  Depending on what you advertise on Facebook you will hear of varying degrees of success.  For example, if you are an auto dealer you are likely feeling this the most. You could literally target people in marketing for a new Honda.  That's going to be difficult to replicate.  If you are a real estate agent or mortgage broker, while you could target those likely to move competition was extremely high and the performance wasn't always great.  

One thing many advertisers didn't know about the third party data is you were paying for its usage.  Just like when you mail postcards or run programmatic advertising using this data, there is a data fee Facebook is passing on. One advantage you might see now is lower CPM's when you are unable to use the partner categories.

No matter what level of success you did have, it will soon be over.  Here are your 3 options moving forward:

  1. This data is still available for programmatic advertising through many vendors, but more than likely you will have a hard time getting anywhere near the results that you had on Facebook. 

  2. There are ways to buy this data from Acxiom, Experian and Oracle, but it gets expensive.  To get a list of 100k people which would be a small list compared to what many advertisers were targeting on Facebook, will cost anywhere from $15-25k.  Could that be the last resort?  Yeah, likely. 

  3. The best option (our opinion) now and that's testing other targeting options within Facebook.  Many advertisers using third party data targeting have already begun this process as soon as the changed was announced by Facebook.

If you've started testing with limited success or you haven't begun yet, before you panic.  Let's start with a simple question.  Facebook as a company is driven entirely by advertising revenue.  If Facebook thought there was going to be a mass exodus of advertising dollars would they have voluntarily done this?  Probably not.  Their data likely shows a couple of different things:

  • A small portion of Facebook's overall ad revenue was from advertisers campaigns using third party data targeting

  • Their targeting options have improved enough since 2013 when they added third-party data targeting in the first place that they don't see the same need anymore

  • Facebook's algorithm has improved (which we know it has) to find the right target audience for advertisers and continue increasing performance based on that

Yes likely some advertisers will leave Facebook, but not many and mostly just smaller advertisers and many that were either self-managed or managed by marketers that don't really know what they were doing.  Now it's time to think outside of the box.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you were targeting "Likely to move" here are just a sample of other options for Facebook interest targeting: Mortgage calculator, Keller Williams Realty, House Hunting, Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia.  There are dozens more just as good.  Think in terms of "if I were looking to buy a house, what else would I be interested in?"

  • If you were targeting in marketing car buying behavior here are some options for Facebook interest targeting: used car, car dealership, consumer reports, Honda (plus a variety of exact models), Motor Trend.  Again, what other things would you be interested in while doing research to buy a car?

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While there are many more to get into, my goal is really just to spark a mindset change from the obvious to the less obvious, but just as good.  Yeah, wouldn't it be great if we knew the exact people that are today looking to buy a Honda Accord.  You also have to think that every Honda dealer you compete with also has access to the same targeting.  We have to get more creative as marketers which will separate the experts from the followers and also drive a competitive advantage that you didn't have before.

At RelayPM we were only using partner categories for about 10% of our Facebook budget and we only have one client using them still, but we've already honed in on some other audiences that work just as good.  If you need any help with your advertising and would like us to review please reach out.  

Google Ads Parallel Tracking: Does This Affect You?

What is Google Ads parallel tracking and does it affect your Adwords account?

Google has been sending out an email this week about the upcoming parallel tracking change to make sure everyone is prepared.  Since I've had multiple clients forward this email to me and ask about it, I wanted to explain what this is and which clients it affects.

Here is the email Google sent out:

Back in May this was first announced on the Google Ads blog.  A significant focus of Google in the past year is increasing page load time on mobile devices.  As web searches continue to shift towards mobile where internet speeds are lower Google has been focusing on doing what they can to increase page load times.  Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP) is one way they have been working on this.  They have put together various data showing the impact each second of page load time has on conversion rate.  If you are interested in learning more Google built a mobile site speed tool that also estimates the revenue impact.

Beyond AMP another way they are increasing mobile page load time is parallel tracking.  This is strictly for advertisers that use a click measurement system.  This feature has been available for a few months, but as of October 30th all accounts will be automatically opted in.  The vast majority of Google ads advertisers are not using a click measurement system.  Most advertisers are using Google Analytics with Adwords auto-tagging where there is no tracking added manually.  Many use custom tracking for lead forms with Google's tracking template, but those are not affected by this either.  

If you are using a click measurement partner like a Sizmek, what happens when someone clicks your ad is that the there is a redirect which takes place.  This happens so fast in the background you will not actually see it.  When a user clicks the URL a page will load and redirect the user to your landing page.  The middle page that loads (which no one ever sees) records click information, but also can slow down the time it takes for the landing page to load.  Parallel tracking solves that issue by still allowing click trackers to work, but it loads the click tracking page at the exact same time the landing page loads instead of loading it before.

To get a better idea here are some visuals:

Most advertisers look like this:

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If you're using a third-party click measurement system it might look like this:

With the upgraded parallel tracking, this then changes to this:

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Check out the Adwords developer section here for more information if you are interested https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/docs/guides/click-tracking

For our clients that are using a click measurement partner, we have already reached out to you about this separately.  For those that have not heard from us, you are not affected by this.

If you are not a client of ours and would like to know if this affects you, send us a message with an existing Google Ads URL and we will tell you and can assist with next steps.

Top 3 Myths Expelled: Just Because Someone Works For Google Doesn't Mean They're A Google Ads Expert

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Let me start off by saying this blog article by no means is to bash Google reps. In many cases, we work with them on a weekly basis with our clients on specific questions. It's intended primarily to warn clients of the potential downsides to listening to everything an account representative from Google tells them. It's also intended to help us Google Ads managers out there that have had clients do one of the following:

1. Forward an email to them from Google stating something along the lines of "Google recommends we make this change, can you please implement it?"

2. The client has a call with Google outside of the Google ads manager's knowledge in which one of two things happens. One, the client approves Google making a recommended change. Two, the client implements it themselves. Days, weeks, or sometimes months later we discover the change and the negative effects that it had.

3. A Google Ads dedicated account rep threatening the account manager or the client that if they don't make a certain change, they will lose the dedicated support (yes this has happened to me)

4. Lose a client because Google has offered to build and manage their Google ads account for free while I'm charging a management fee (yes this has happened to me multiple times)

If you manage Google Ads accounts for other companies, if you haven't had any of those happen yet, don't worry you will soon enough. I completely understand the challenge this poses to our companies that advertise on Google.

For a potentially new or early stage client, they don't have a "trust" factor established yet. For a long-term client they do, but unless they have already experienced losing performance and money to a change Google made or recommended, who are they to question the very people that built the search engine on how to best advertise on their search engine?

That all seems to make sense, but unfortunately it is not the case. Let me dispel a few myths about your average Google account representative (they change their titles so much I'm not sure what they are called now).

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Myth 1: They work for Google, so they have access to information about the Google ads platform that the public doesn't

Truth: Google holds any secret information about their algorithm from the vast majority of their company, especially anyone that works directly with clients. If anything I've found that the public find out about platform changes before many of the Google ads account reps because we're actively seeking and following. I can guarantee if your paid search manager is keeping up with the latest releases and trends they know at least the same amounts as a Google ads account rep about the advertising platform.

Myth 2: Google ads representatives know and understand the Google ads platform and algorithm better than anyone because they work with it every day.

Truth: Most Google ads representatives, unless you are an account spending high 6-7 figures per month have less than 1-year experience with the platform. Of the dozens if not hundreds of Google Ads account reps I've worked with over the years, I've never come across a single one that not only ever managed a Google ads account on their own, but had any sort of marketing role prior to working at Google. Typically they have a sales background because that's technically what they are considered within Google.

Myth 3: Google Ads reps and Google Ads agencies have the same goal for their clients, long-term success and spending money.

Truth: This one I have some challenges with because theoretically, it should be true. Account managers or agencies need our clients to increase their spending on Google ads and be successful in order to continue working with us. It's in our best interest to optimize the account towards their ROAS or CPA goals. That is true. One would think Google would have the same intention, but time and time again all I've ever seen them caring about is spending more money on the platform regardless of what the conversion results are. In fact, there are many businesses that stopped advertising on Google and never will again because of the experience they had losing money, but because it was set up by Google Ads reps.

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Where is my evidence to back all of this up?

I've been managing Google Ads/Adwords clients for more than 12 years. I have fought this battle with Google and clients for that entire time. I've taken over clients where I cringe even to tell them the amount of money they lost because of what Google reps did to their account. I've lost clients for refusing to make changes Google recommended. Don't get me wrong, there are many terrible private paid search managers out there. In fact, I would argue less than 10% of us are actually really good at what we do, but that's another blog post.

Just last week I took over an account that had 4 campaigns set up by Google and run for 6 months. Three search only campaigns were all broad match keywords and one what was supposed to be "remarketing" audience was targeting a irrelevant in-market audience. Not one search term over a six month period because of the broad match setup was right for his business. Great, he didn't pay anything for a management fee. Unfortunately, he lost $10,000 over the time period.

Not everything they tell you will be wrong. I'm not here to say that. I just want perspectives to change when Google does recommend something. Maybe get a second opinion? At the very least be open to your pay per click manager not implementing a suggested change if they have a good reason not to. A good reason isn't "everything Google tells you to will waste money." If they tell you that you probably should find a new pay per click manager or agency.

A good reason would be something like:

"We prefer to rotate our ads evenly and decide on our own which is the best performer. There are many factors we use to determine the success of an ad, and while Google has improved their automated functionality for ad copy optimization, we often test this and believe our method works better."

I hope there are Google advertisers that read this and I save their PPC Manager and agency from having to argue this or even worse, give in and watch their client's results suffer. After all, would you let the IRS do your taxes?

If you have any questions about this don’t hesitate to message us. Just click on the Facebook messenger icon and we’ll respond. If you need a second opinion on a recommended change we will be happy to help. Most importantly, if Google setup your campaigns or is managing your account, please let us audit it.

LTV: The Importance Of Knowing The Value Of Your Customers in eCommerce

Being in the business for well over 10 years I am always surprised how many eCommerce clients cannot answer the question "what is the lifetime value of your customers?"  Usually in my initial prospecting calls with somewhere within the second half of the call I ask this question.  At least 50% of the time I hear the answer: "no."  It does seem like most eCommerce companies understand the value, but don't always have the analytics expertise to calculate this.  Of course, you also have the eCommerce companies in their infancy that just don't have the customer data to support estimating anywhere near an accurate lifetime value.

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What does "customer lifetime value (LTV)" mean?   Essentially it's the total value a customer will contribute to your company over their lifetime.

Why is it important to know the lifetime value of your customers?  First, it tells you how much you can spend to acquire a customer without losing money.  Second, it gives you a baseline to start from while you make changes to increase the value of each customer.  There are a lot of companies out there that never make it because they don't know their customers lifetime value.  They are paying $75 to acquire every new customer, but the average customer might only drive $50 in revenue.  Understanding this is crucial to growing a successful eCommerce company over time.

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There are two primary methods to calculate this.  One is based on historical data (in which you need a lot), and one is based on predictive modeling.  Which way you need to use will depend on how many customers you've had as well as how long you've been in business.  More than likely for at least the first 2-3 years you'll be using predictive modeling, but as your actual data set grows you can integrate more historical data until eventually, you get to a point where it's entirely based on your own metrics.

If you're using historical modeling, you have the opportunity to segment even further, maybe by acquisition channel or demographic data.  Now you can find which of your customer sets have a higher lifetime value than others.  This allows you to focus on acquiring customers that are more valuable regarding long-term revenue they bring in.  Marketing to the "right" customers will help improve your customer acquisition metrics.  There's a great infographic I found from RJ Metrics illustrating this (see below blog)

As you continually do things like marketing to the right customers, adding new products to your website, improving your cross-selling approach you can continue to increase the lifetime value of your customers giving you more profit and more you can spend to acquire new customers.  

Now just because you know the answer to this question doesn't solve everything.  One of the significant challenges for eCommerce companies, especially those in the first 1-3 years of their business is that they don't have enough existing customers to offset the loss to acquire a new customer.  Here's what I mean by that.  If the lifetime value of your customer is $100 over a 2 year period and to get to $100 in revenue that customer has to place 4 orders and it costs to $50 to acquire that customer; initially you lose money.  Yes over a two years period you'll still make a $50 profit from that customer, but you might lose $25 for the first 6-12 months.

Look at Amazon and Jet.  They lost tens to hundreds of millions growing their customer base initially while continually increasing the customer lifetime value until they can eventually be profitable.  Now this indeed takes a lot of investment capital, and there aren't many companies in this position, but it's an excellent example of what it takes to grow in the eCommerce space now.

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Early on in the years of pay per click on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, it was relatively easy to make a "profit" from a first order.  As the market became more competitive rarely now do we see this from eCommerce companies on non-brand search keywords.  Same goes for Facebook ads.  Facebook advertising has doubled in cost each year as it's gone from having unsold inventory to completely selling all ad spots.  Understanding and improving your lifetime value is continually increasing in importance to the success and growth of your eCommerce business.  

If you've been in business for 3, 4, 5 years or more you might have enough repeat customers that you can cover your loss to acquire new customers and your eCommerce business is still profitable.  Many eCommerce companies and startups don't have that luxury though, and they are operating at a loss until they can start getting those repeat orders in.  Depending on how long that cycle is for your customers to make a second or even a third purchase, this can be challenging.  As an eCommerce company, we're all trying to get to that point, where repeat customers drive the profit and capital to continue losing money on a first purchase to acquire new customers.

Stay tuned for our white paper where we'll show you exactly how to calculate the lifetime value through both historical and predictive modeling.  

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Messenger For eCommerce: The One Reason You Should Forget About Every Other Chat Provider

Messenger bots for e-commerce are nothing new.  I get it.  If you search "messenger bots for e-commerce" on Google, you get 1.98 million results.

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If we all know about them by now, why are most eCommerce websites only scratching the surface of their potential?  That is if they are even using a messenger bot.


Let's check the top 5 e-commerce sites right now (I'll skip Amazon).  I'm going to go with mobile too.  
 

Walmart.com

Newly redesigned website, first time I'm actually seeing this.  Found a nearly hidden live chat box.  Oh, nevermind clicked into it, and they only want to know if I liked their website.  Gave them a 5 thinking a chatbot might open up, but they continue to ask me about the website.
 

Homedepot.com

They've got a little live chat box on all pages I found, although it seems to open up late.  First question: name.  No problem.  Second question: email.  I'm out.  (We'll come back to this later)
 

Bestbuy.com

3 minutes in looking at category pages, product pages, even adding a product to my cart.  No live chat anywhere.  I was looking for a recommendation on a Samsung or Sony TV.  I'm out.
 

Target.com

Same as BestBuy.com.  No live chat anywhere.
 

Costco.com

Nothing here either.

The number 2, 4, 5, and 6 eCommerce websites in the United States don't have live chat functionality (that I can find).  There has been article after article and test after test of the importance of chatbots increasing eCommerce sales for at least the past 1-2 years, but it seems that most of the top eCommerce websites in the country haven't even implemented this yet.
This could be a significant opportunity for smaller e-commerce companies to have an advantage over the big guys.


While there's a lot of opportunities to leverage Facebook messager for e-commerce websites within Facebook, what is more often neglected is leveraging Facebook messenger directly on your website.  This newer feature is rarely found on any website. 

That brings us to the question I'm here to answer: why integrate Facebook messenger on your website over any of the other dozens of live chat platforms on the market?  One reason.  As soon as a potential customer engages with your company on Facebook messenger, whether it's within Facebook or on your website, you can message them from that point on.  You can't do this with any other chat platform on the market.  This is a huge opportunity to take advantage of.


Back to the Home Depot example.  I couldn't even ask a question without entering my email.  I'm not ready to make that kind of commitment to them, but I completely understand why they believe the should ask and their data likely proves it as well.  Home Depot wants to have the ability to contact the individual after the conversation.  If that were done through Facebook messenger though, they would have access to message me anytime they wanted, without ever asking me for my email address.  Pretty amazing right?  Imagine the number of potential customers that drop off because they require an email address.

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Are we all familiar with email open rates right?  At 20% we're jumping for joy.  Say out of 100 people Home Depot loses 50% on live chat because they don't want to enter their email address (it's likely much higher).  Of the 50 that entered their email address at best 20% open, the email Home Depot sent.  That's 10 out of 100.  If they were running Facebook messenger, they would have a 0% drop off because they wouldn't need to ask for their email address.  So out of 100, they chat with all 100.  After the chat session, they message all 100 people.  Facebook messenger open rate is over 80%.  


With the current method, Home Depot is using they get 10 out of 100 people to open the follow-up email.  If they switched to using Facebook messenger that number would increase to 80!  That's an 800% increase.

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What are you all waiting for?  Often the mindset of small e-commerce companies is how we can compete with the big guys?  Here is a golden opportunity.


Now that I've shown you why you should implement Facebook messenger within our e-commerce website, what are the practical use cases?  Here are three I'll go over.


Engage with a potential customer early on in their sales cycle.  

This is where you have the opportunity to replace the customer service of a brick and mortar store.  While this has the most opportunity with a more consultative sale, like a TV or a washer & dryer, it can still work with clothing and any other item as well.  A great example would be a couple of months back I was in the marketing for a new washer & dryer.  I spent some time doing my research online, but I hit a wall where there was too much information out there for me to decipher and I didn't have the time to spend on it.  In the end, I was forced to go into a brick and mortar location to consult with an expert.  I wanted to make this entire purchase online, but I was missing the sales support I truly needed online and knew I could get in a store.  There are some e-commerce sites out there doing an outstanding job of this, like Crutchfield, but too many fall short.  Again an excellent opportunity for smaller up and coming companies to take the lead.

Closing The Deal

After you engaged with the visitor on your website to help consult them through the sale, if they leave unexpectedly or abandon their cart, you then have the opportunity to reach back out and close the deal.  This could be anything from offering a discount to answering any further questions they may have.  With less than 2% of visitors on average making a purchase the first time they visit your site, this is a perfect opportunity to increase that number.

After Sales Support

There was a study done where at least 80% of customers responded to order notifications on Facebook messenger whereas very few replied to an email.  What if your customers have questions after they receive their purchase?  This is where you get an opportunity to get them into your messenger list when you don't have them.  If you direct them to ask their questions using messenger, now you have that option to contact them in the future.  HP has a fully automated bot that walks customers through setting up a printer until they can print their first document.  Not only does it increase your customer satisfaction, but it also gets your customers onto your messenger list to reach out in the future.


Now there are indeed cases where a fully automated bot won't be enough.  For instance, on the consultative sale, you will likely get to a point where you need human interaction, but you can at least get through initial questions to judge the quality of the visitor and timing to have a human interject in the messenger.  The way we set these up variest by client.  Some we have only one or two questions and answers before a human interjects while others we have it set up to have a full conversation lasting up to 15 minutes.  You might find there are a lot of common issues that can be automated with a bot that will significantly cut down on the real human intervention.  In the beginning, as your learning, you will need more human interaction, but as you learn common questions and solutions, you can begin to automate more and more and cut down on the level of human support needed.  In the end this will incurease customer satisfaction, sales and reduce human interaction needed in customer service.

Chat with us on our Facebook messenger bot if you have any questions on implementing this feature.  We would love to help and show examples on successful implementations.

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