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Creating pay-per-click (PPC) ads for your business is often one of the most powerful tools you have in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing. But deciding on which platform to use to reach your ideal audience is often the first question you should ask if you are just starting off doing PPC. 

Luckily in the United States, there are two primary PPC platforms to choose from that will help you reach your ideal users. These are Bing Ads and Google Ads. But deciding between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads is a tougher question. Choosing the wrong platform for your business could mean wasting your budget, showing your ads to the wrong users, or jeopardizing your overall digital marketing strategy.

In this guide, we’ll cover the key differences and similarities between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads. 

Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads:  10 Key Differences and Similarities

While both platforms appear similar for the end product, Microsoft and Google Ads exhibit key differences and similarities. Understanding their relevance to your business will aid in deciding whether to use one platform or advertise on both simultaneously.

Platform Reach

It is a no-brainer that if you are only concerned about advertising on search engines such as Google or Bing, that reach is an important factor in deciding which platform to use.

Google’s market share vs Bing’s market share as of February 2024

It is well-known that Google is the primary search engine used across the United States with a staggering 88% market share as of November 2023. Bing comes in second with almost 7% market share which is up 2% in the past five years due to added features such as ChatGPT integrated within the platform. 

But the 7% that Microsoft Ads covers accounts for over 44 million searches that you aren’t reaching. 

Another big factor to consider when talking about Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads is who you are trying to reach on the platforms. 

Bing’s users are primarily older, are more likely to be married, more educated, and more affluent

Google’s users are typically younger, work in white-collar roles, are more comfortable with technology, and grew up with Google as a standard of reference. 

Additionally, Google has two ad networks on which your ads can show, the Google Search Network, which includes Google Play, Google Maps, Shopping, etc., and Google Display Network which consists of over 2 million sites. The Google networks are a large reason why advertisers often choose Google in the first place.

Microsoft Ads can be shown in a variety of different places on the Microsoft Advertising Network, These include search engines like Bing, AOL, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. Ads on Microsoft can also show up on MSN, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook apps. 

Costs

After deciding where your users are likely searching, next look at the cost. 

Since you will be paying per click on either platform, one of the most important differences is the average cost per click. 

Google Ads often have 33% higher cost-per-clicks (CPC) on average than Microsoft Ads. This is because the competition level and bidding systems in which Google operates are much higher than on Bing.

 One surprising fact is that retail advertisers often pay more for Microsoft Ads than Google Ads.

Person with iPad an Apple Pencil with graphic of PPC costs overlayed

Audience Targeting

Both platforms offer excellent audience targeting options for all advertisers. However, when deciding between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads for your business, it’s important to remember your audience targeting strategy. If you create a well-crafted ad but don’t show it to the right people at the right time, it will lead to wasted ad spend. 

With Google Ads, you have two options for reaching your ideal audience. These are content and audience targeting. 

With content targeting you can on the display networks where you want your ads to show or not show. This includes targeting topics, placements, or content keywords. 

With Google Ads audience targeting you can target segments or groups of people with specific interests, intents, and demographic information. 

Google Ads audience targeting is broken down into the following segment types:

  • Affinity Segments
  • Custom Segments
  • Detailed Demographics
  • Life Events
  • In-Market
  • Your Data Segments

Microsoft Ads offer a very similar targeting for your audiences with one distinct difference, LinkedIn Targeting. 

With Microsoft Ads you can target and reach customers via:

  • Custom Audiences
  • Customer Match
  • Device Targeting
  • Dynamic Remarketing
  • In-Market Audiences
  • LinkedIn Targeting
  • Location Targeting
  • Remarketing
  • Similar Audiences 

Strategizing within audience segments can make or break your PPC advertising no matter which platform you use. Ultimately we think Google Ads audiences beat out Microsoft Ads due to the vast information available collected with Google’s sophisticated audience gathering. 

Ad Formats

Example of MacBook Air search ad through Microsoft Ads on Bing
Example of MacBook Air search ad through Google Ads on Google

Deciding between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads often depends on what you want to accomplish with the ads themselves. Both platforms offer a variety of different ad types to help you reach your customers where they are. 

Both platforms offer:

  • Responsive Search Ads
  • Display & Native Ads
  • Shopping Ads
  • App Install Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Call-Only Ads

Most notably is the responsive search ads in both platforms. These are most likely the first ads you will create. 

These operate in almost an identical fashion. In Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, you need to provide up to 15 headlines and four descriptions which the ad systems will mix and match the ideal combination of headlines and descriptions to match the user being targeted. 

Both platforms are constantly updating ad format types to entice users to use their platforms. 

Microsoft Ads has been expanding its platform with exclusive partnerships including Netflix Ads which makes them more competitive with Google Ads. 

Google Ads has been adding new campaign types to combine the various ad formats including Demand Gen and Performance Max. 

Keyword Match Types

No matter which platform you end up using, both offer keyword match types that are the same.

These Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads keyword match types are:

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match
  • Negative Keywords

Up until 2021, Google Ads utilized broad and phrase match modifiers but have been folded into the regular broad and phrase match types. 

Click-Through Rates

Click-through rates (CTR) are often one of the first metrics to look at when analyzing your PPC ads as they give you a good idea of what is resonating with your audience. 

While each of the ad formats mentioned above are in each platform, one in general has a much higher CTR than the other. 

The average CTR on Google is 34% higher than on Microsoft Ads. 

On average, Bing has a 2.83% CTR across all industries and Google Ads has a 3.17%.

In the Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads debate, if all factors are the same (meaning the headlines, and descriptions), the clear winner is Google Ads. 

Conversion Rates

While CTR is an important metric to analyze in your PPC efforts, one that you need to pay the most attention to is conversion rate. 

The Microsoft Ads conversion rate on average is 2.94% across all industries.

Google Ads conversion rate on average is 3.75% across all industries. 

This means that if you have responsive search ads set up with conversions being the same across both platforms, on average Google Ads has a higher conversion rate by 81%. 

Google Ads’ system for optimizing for conversions is unmatched by Microsoft Ads. When everything is set up properly in your account, the AI and machine learning capabilities of Google Ads is able to recognize which users are more likely to convert over the Microsoft Ads users. 

UX Designs

One of the more obvious aspects when deciding between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads you will notice is the user experience behind each platform. 

Microsoft Ads is built to mimic Google Ads and that is not by mistake. 

Microsoft Advertising wants you to feel a very familiar sense when you enter the platform so you feel like you have a sense of congruency when using it. They believe that if users come to a new platform, and have to learn an entirely new system and account structure, they won’t use it. 

In fact, when you create a Microsoft Ads account, you can import your Google Ads campaigns into the platform and have them be almost identical. 

Free Tools & Resources

Having free tools and resources for your PPC campaign is game-changing if you do not pay for search engine marketing tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. 

Both Microsoft Ads and Google Ads have tools to help you plan your keywords traffic and volume, shared libraries, bulk actions & apps, conversion tracking, and basic setup assistance. 

Very similar to the UX design, Microsoft Ads is built to mimic the Google Ads tools and resources. 

However, one of the key differences between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads is the integration of Google platforms within the Google Ads system. Since Google Analytics is the primary and standard platform for marketers to use, they have made it very easy to connect Google Analytics to Google Ads. 

The Microsoft Ads system for connecting your Google accounts is different than Google Ads. 

Rather than simply importing your Google Analytics goals and conversions into Microsoft Ads, Microsoft Ads uses Universal Event Tracking (UET) tags to measure user events that happened from the Microsoft Ads system. 

Luckily, if you are using Google Tag Manager for custom events, you can easily add in the UET tag and send over those custom events to Microsoft Ads. 

Customer Service

One final note about Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads that we want to mention is the customer service element of each platform. 

You never know when you will run into issues that you will need to contact the customer service from either platform. 

In recent years, it has been increasingly difficult to get in contact with Google Ads. There used to be a live chat feature where you could contact someone from Google and get assistance right away but now there are only options for emailing someone, asking the community, or booking an appointment which costs $50 per call. Occasionally, you will get a request from a Google Ads specialist who will walk through your account with you but that is not the case with every account on Google.

Microsoft Ads has similar customer service help options but offers live chats or you can request a call from support. We like having live chat in Microsoft Ads. 

Conclusion 

The choice between Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads is a pivotal decision for businesses venturing into the realm of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Both platforms have their distinct advantages and cater to different demographics, making it crucial for advertisers to align their strategies with the characteristics of their target audience. 

While Google Ads dominates the search engine market share, Microsoft Ads offers unique opportunities to tap into a substantial user base that may be overlooked. The differences in costs, audience targeting, ad formats, keyword match types, and user experience should all be carefully considered based on the specific goals and preferences of each business.

Ultimately, no matter which platform you choose to use, it should be worth noting that running ads on both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads is recommended. When you carefully create a PPC strategy using both, you will be able to compare which platform is best for you in the long run.

If you’re struggling on either of the platforms, Tower Marketing’s PPC management experts are equipped to help. Reach out to a team member to schedule a free PPC management consultation.

Going once…going twice…SOLD!

When you think of an auction, you likely picture large crowds, a charismatic auctioneer, and rapidly selling products. Competition is intense, and whoever bids the most ultimately wins, right?

Well, in the search engine arena, this isn’t always the case. 

Competitive ad rank scores are based on several components, including ad rank thresholds, landing page quality, anticipated asset performance, and more.

With these tips on how to improve ad rank, you’ll be increasing your search engine ranking position in no time!

What Is Ad Rank?

Ad rank is a ranking system used by Google Ads to determine the order in which paid ads show in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Just because an ad is eligible to appear, doesn’t mean it will show up at the top—or even at all. You’re a part of the Google auction with all other competitors, so your ad quality needs to be up to par.

The higher quality your ad is, the less you’ll pay per click. Follow these ad rank tips to get the most out of your money.

6 Ad Rank Factors

1. Bidding

In its simplest form, a bid is the maximum monetary amount you’re willing to pay per click. You might even pay less than that amount, depending on the competition and the quality of your ad. We’ll explain more about this below.

Google strives to stay as close to your daily budget as possible, while still maximizing the impact of your bidding strategy. You can adjust the amount at any time.

Need help with the calculations? You can use Keyword Planner to see a range of bids that advertisers in your industry are known for paying per click for related terms. 

A screenshot of 4 top of page low range bids and 4 top of page high range bids.

Using the example above, you would add up the left column of top of page bids (low range) and divide by 4 to get the average. You would do the same for the column on the right. Therefore, in this case, your bid range would be about $1.75-$5.59 for each click. 

Let’s say you’d like about 10 clicks per day. You would then multiply each by 10. 

$1.75×10 = $17.50

$5.59×10 = $55.90

Therefore, $17.50-$55.90  would be a good range for your Google Ads daily budget. 

*Tip: To calculate a monthly budget, just multiply by 30.4 (the number Google uses for the average number of days in a month).

2. Auction Time Ad Quality

Auction Time Ad Quality includes three main parts (though it can also include other user signals like device type, location, and time of day):

  1. Expected click-through rate
  2. Landing page quality
  3. Ad relevance

These three factors make up an ad’s Quality Score.

Ensure your landing page is well-structured with appropriate headings, visuals, and compelling call-to-actions. Humans crave consistency, so ensure your ads, keywords, and landing pages are all telling the same story. Include your keywords in your headlines and throughout your landing page (especially in the headings). 

*Tip: Fully optimize your landing pages by following these landing page best practices.

You can see in the example below that the query “kitchen drawer organizers” matches well with the headline in the ad “Kitchen Drawer Organizers” and it leads to a landing page with the same title. There’s promotional text in the ad copy, and there are engaging photos on the landing page. All of them are consistent and create a positive shopping experience for the user.

Google search results displaying the query "kitchen drawer organizers" with a matching meta title.
A landing page displaying images of kitchen drawer organizers.

3. Ad Rank Thresholds

Even when there are no other competitors, your ad still might not show or you might have to pay a high amount.

The reason lies in the ad rank thresholds. Certain quality standards must be met because Google doesn’t want to show irrelevant ads on its site. So, if you have a poor-quality ad or your landing pages aren’t as relevant, then Google will charge you more. And if your ad doesn’t meet those thresholds, it won’t show at all.

4. Level Of Competition

Just like in a regular auction, you’re competing with others.

If they also meet their ad rank thresholds, then the person with the highest ad rank score will win the highest search engine ranking position. That’s why having a competitive ad rank score is important.

You’ll only pay the minimum amount needed to outrank the competitor below you.

But, let’s throw a curveball here: Let’s say your ad is the only one that cleared the thresholds and there’s no other competition. In that case, you would pay the reserve price, which is the minimum amount decided by Google. 

5. Context

Context is key in how your search engine ranking position is determined. 

Is the user in the same location as the business being advertised? Local searches could be deemed more relevant.

Do the user’s current and past searches indicate that they are in the market for that item or service? If so, they might be placed into an “In-market” audience category and it could be deemed more likely that they will convert over someone who is not in that category.

What device are they using? If phone calls are one of your goals, your ads might be shown more to people on a mobile device, for example.

Google takes all of these and many other user signals into consideration to optimize for the best performance across the most relevant audience.

6. Anticipated Asset Performance

Ad assets (formerly known as “extensions”) are additional pieces of information that you can add to your Google Ads. These include phone numbers, addresses, sitelinks to other relevant pages on your site, and more. 

Many components are taken into account, such as click-through rates, relevance, and prominence of the assets in the SERPs. Essentially, these are all ways to capture your users’ attention and encourage them to take action on your ad.

Assets are ranked: “Best,” “Good,” or “Low.” You might also see “Learning,” which means the system is still gathering details on it. 

Notification in Google Ads that you have a high performing asset.

This information is listed in your ads under “View asset details” in your Google Ads account. To see that performance column, you will need at least 2,000 impressions at the top of Google Search within 30 days.

Ad Rank Monitoring

Now that you’ve learned how to earn competitive ad rank scores, it’s time to evaluate your ads. Be on the lookout for notifications in your account like this:

A notification in Google Ads that your keyword has a low Quality Score.

This is an indication that you could use more consistency across your landing pages, keywords, and ad copy.

Diagnose Your Keywords

To run a report, go into the keyword section of Google Ads, select the 3 dots, and under “Diagnose Keywords,” click “Run now.”

A screenshot of how to run a diagnostic report for keywords in Google Ads.
Running a diagnostic test for keywords in Google Ads.

When it’s done, you’ll be able to view it in the “Reports” section. This report can give you insights into why your ad isn’t showing, such as being blocked by a negative keyword, distribution preferences, or having a low ad rank score.

Pay Attention To Keyword Intent

When evaluating your keywords, pay attention to whether or not they have the right intent. Those with transactional intent will be from users who are further down the sales funnel and who are likely ready to buy the product. You can view the intent by using a tool like Semrush or by looking for keyword phrases that include words like “for sale.”

Semrush screenshot of keywords that have transactional intent.

Monitor Your Quality Score

Enable the Quality Score column in the keyword section of Google Ads to see which ads need to be improved. As we mentioned earlier in this blog, your Quality Score is a measure of three components: Expected click-through rate, landing page quality, and ad relevance. Try including more keywords in your ads and throughout your landing page to improve your quality score.

The column in Google Ads that displays quality score.

Why Is Having A Competitive Ad Rank Score Important?

Paying attention to ad rank is important because higher-quality ads often get charged less per click, which means a better use of your money.

Every time a search occurs, ad rank is calculated. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you have a competitive ad rank score in order to outrank your competitors in the Google auction. 

Need some help evaluating and improving your competitive ad rank score? Our PPC specialists can monitor your paid ads, choose the right bidding strategy, and improve your search engine ranking position.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal roadmap to achieve a successful marketing campaign. And it can be frustrating to put the work in, and the budget, and ultimately not see the results you deserve. 

We’ve seen this frustration happen time and time again. Which is why we’ve written this blog. We’ll outline the logistics behind Google Ads audiences, and our best practices when it comes to getting to know your audience better.

What is the Google Ads Platform?

We are going to be talking a lot about Google Ads Audiences, and to start the conversation, it’s important to have an understanding of the Google Ads Platform. Feel free to start exploring the platform and get some hands-on experience. 

Within the Google Ads platform, you can obtain resources and valuable insights into the different aspects, including your google ads audiences of choice. There are a multitude of tools to help you find keywords, reach new and existing audiences, and test different strategies.

Breaking Down Google Ads Audience Segments

There are multiple types of audience segments you can create in Google Ads. But we’re going to focus on Google Ads’ in-market audiences, affinity segment targeting, and custom segments.

By utilizing these three types of audience segments, you can capture users who are highly invested in your company or product and users who are in the beginning stages of the buying journey.

  • Affinity Segments. If you’re creating a brand new audience or starting from scratch, affinity segment targeting is a great way to capture users in the beginning stages of the consumer journey. 

    This type of Google Ads audience emphasizes a user’s interests, rather than their recent spending habits. We recommend using affinity segment targeting to raise brand awareness and reach new users.

  • In-Market Segments. Going a bit deeper into the funnel, Google Ads’ in-market segments capture users based on recent purchases or ones with transactional intent. This is a great Google Ads audience to take advantage of when you have a clear understanding of your users and what they want from you.

  • Custom Segments. Google Ads’ custom intent audiences allow you to get very specific with your audience and target users based on keywords and URLs. This type of Google Ads audience comes with time and is especially useful once you have success with the platform.

    So let’s say you’re a home improvement company but you want to focus a specific ad on kitchen repairs. You can include distinct keywords related to this topic. You can also include different URLS that are relevant and have information on kitchen repairs.

Building Your Google Ads Audience

As you begin building your Google Ads audience, you’ll first have to decide between “observation” and “targeting.”

In Google Ads, showing the two different options you can choose, targeting and observation.
  • Observation. Google will observe how certain criteria perform within your ads without limiting the reach of your ads. Essentially, it’s going to watch how the ad performs and better the audience/ad based on these observations.

    We recommend using the observation feature for building newer audiences and any Search or Display campaigns.
  • Targeting. On the other hand, targeting is going to put you in control of who sees your ad and where it’s shown. Just like Google custom intent audiences, this is for specific audiences and specific content.

    We’d recommend using targeting once you have a solidified understanding of who your audience is and are looking to capture users who are further into the consumer journey.

Once you’ve chosen observation or targeting, the next step to building your Google Ads audience is to include demographics. You can choose between a wide variety of segments, including age, location, and household income. 

You may also decide to set up exclusions in your audience. Just like in social media advertising, exclusions are important to incorporate so your ads aren’t shown to people who are unlikely to interact with your product or service. 

Pro Tip: We encourage you to connect your Google Ads and your Google Analytics 4 accounts so you can get a full picture of your customer’s journey. This connection allows you to better understand conversions and events happening from users interacting with your Google ads.

Who Are You Targeting?

Now that we’ve laid out how to logistically set up your audience, it’s time to outline how to decide who’s best to target and how you can access a more in-depth understanding of your audience.

The marketing funnel with the top starting at awareness and the last one being advocacy.

Look At the Stages in the User/Buyer Journey

There are five stages in the user/buyer journey, but we’re going to focus on the following three: awareness, consideration, and decision. If your marketing budget allows for it, you should be creating separate ads for users in each of these consumer stages.

  1. Awareness Stage. When a user is in this stage, they’re browsing for general ideas, products, and services to help them solve a problem. They aren’t at the stage where they want to make any purchases. They’re simply gathering information.

    Google search queries in this stage are going to be more general, like “best running sneakers” or “new garage door.”

  2. Consideration Stage. Moving down the funnel a little, users in the consideration stage are going to start getting a bit more specific and finding a solution to their problem. In the awareness stage, they were looking for a change, but in the consideration stage, they’re looking for a solution.

    Search queries could include “best shoe stores near me” or “should a professional install my new garage door.” 

  3. Decision Stage. The last stage of the user buying journey is where someone is going to be very intentional about their searches because they’re looking to make a purchase. They’ve done the research and know what product or service will solve their issue.

    Google search queries are going to be specific like “HOKA shoes for running marathons” or “real-wood overhead garage doors.”

Your goal should be to capture users at every stage of the buying journey. Which means finding relevant and valuable keywords and language that matches each step of the process. Not sure how to find the right keywords for your ads? Don’t worry, we’ll get into that now.

Consider the Intent of Your Audience

Within each stage of the user/buyer journey, there are different intents for the consumer. You should recognize each intent so you can create a specific ad targeting their needs or wants.

a graphic that highlights the four different types of keyword intent.

There are four different types of intent keywords. They are information, navigational, commercial, and transactional. By getting a grasp of each of these, you can create different audiences for each consumer stage. 

A general rule of thumb is as follows.

  • Information intent keywords are going to target users in the awareness stage.
  • Navigational and commercial intent keywords are geared toward users in the consideration stage.
  • Transactional intent keywords capture users in the decision stage.

Now, you can combine keyword groupings and reach multiple stages at once within your ad campaign. But, the language would have to be fairly general in order to attract all three stages. 

This is why we recommend focusing on one stage per campaign with your keywords, language, and targeting so you can make each ad more personable for the user.

Tips to Knowing Your Audience Better

It’s easier said than done to know who your audience is and to craft ads that target specific segments. But we’ll outline some of our best tips so you can feel confident that you’re getting to know your audience and giving them information they engage with.

Do Your Research

First and foremost, do as much research with the tools you already have. Within your Google Analytics 4 account look at engagement metrics and see what users are doing on your site. If you have a page that’s getting a lot of traffic and conversions, you can continue this momentum by creating a supporting Google Ad. 

You may be surprised to see how much insight you can also get by talking to your leadership, sales team, and marketing team.

  • Is the sales team noticing a product or service that’s selling really well?
  • What initiatives is your marketing team taking that you can support through Google ads? 
  • Are there blogs already written on topics you can advertise?
  • Are there specific goals your leadership would like to see achieved this year? 

By involving these departments in your marketing blueprint, you can ultimately create a comprehensive and well-rounded strategy

Also, look at what your competitors are doing! They could spark ideas for advertising topics or landing pages.  See what they’re doing and how you can put your unique value proposition into it to capture your audience’s attention.

Create a Target Persona

You benefit greatly from creating a target persona for every stage of the user funnel. What are the characteristics of someone in the awareness stage, or the consideration stage? How will the language of these ads differ from someone in the decision stage? 

By having a clear outline of each stage and a target persona, you can truly start to craft specific language for each consumer stage. These personas also help you narrow down what your targeted users are searching for.

A lot of times businesses focus on their brand voice and tone when really they should be focusing on what customers are searching for on Google.

Do Some A/B Testing

By testing different Google detailed demographics, intent keywords, and audiences you can get a full picture of what people are responding to and what’s working well (or not working well) with your advertisements. 

When you’re testing different characteristics, make sure you’re not changing everything at once. In fact, we recommend only changing one thing at a time so you have a concrete idea of whether the different feature benefited your ad or not.

Find the Right Keywords

We talk a lot about using intent keywords in your SEO and content marketing strategies, but you can also take full advantage of them within your Google ads. Especially when using Google’s custom intent audiences. 

As we mentioned above, there are four different types of intent keywords. By utilizing and grouping these together, you can create audiences that attract a user from any stage of the consumer journey. 

We recommend using the Keyword Magic Tool from SEMrush as a great start to finding relevant and valuable keywords for your campaigns!

Additional Tools

Here are a few additional resources our team uses to find the best insights for a great Google Ads audience.

  • Organic Insights in SEMrush. You can see keywords, landing pages, users, and conversion insights within this tool. See where your audience is going, what pages they are most interested in, and topics that are sparking their attention.

    You can also see where your competitors are ranking well and what topics they are advertising. Ultimately, this is a great tool to connect your SEO and content strategies with your Google Ads campaigns. 

  • Google Trends. This is a great starting point to find trending topics or see specific keywords and how they trend over time. Maybe you have a seasonality factor to strategize for and you notice there’s a trending topic in the spring that you should be targeting.

  • Microsoft Clarity. Our SEM team uses this tool to see where our audiences are going when they land on the site and what pages are gaining the most traffic. It can also help you see what CTAs and buttons are working really well on your page which can then be mirrored in your Google Ads.

Get in front of the right people and reach new users by utilizing Google Ads audiences. Have questions about how to get started? Our PPC specialists are here to help!

This blog was originally published on June 16, 2021, and was updated on August 1, 2023.

The big countdown to GA4 is finally coming to a close, and it brings a lot of changes, which include user engagement metrics. We’ve outlined the 8 key GA4 differences you can expect, but now we’ll explore how to use the engagement metrics in Google Analytics 4 to your advantage. 

Once you become familiar with user engagement in Google Analytics 4, you’ll be able to use these metrics to better define your marketing strategies and ultimately gain an extensive understanding of your audience.

What User Engagement Metrics Should You Track?

There are a lot of metrics for you in GA4, and trying to track all of them would be very overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’re not tracking the right ones, you might become more confused about what’s successful for your company and what needs work. 

As you consider what metrics to track, you should align this with the purpose of your website and your company’s marketing goals. For example, if you’re looking to sell your products or services online, your KPIs are going to look slightly different than a company looking to provide thought leadership to its audience. 

Below, we’ll outline some of the most influential user engagement metrics you can track to know the effect of your marketing strategies. 

In appropriate sections, we’ll highlight an industry average or target range. This may vary depending on what type of industry you’re in, so you can always use Google’s benchmarking tool to find specific averages on user engagement.

a screenshot of a reports column with sessions, engaged sessions, sessions per user, users, and new users.

Users

There are three different types of users that you should be aware of in Google Analytics 4. Each is similar but tells you a slightly different story about what your audience is doing on your website. 

  • New Users. In Universal Analytics, each device counted as a new user. However, GA4 will use cross-device tracking to recognize the same user on different devices.
  • Total Users. Similar to what you’ve seen before, total users let you know the number of users that had an event on your website during a specific period of time.
  • Active Users. Active users are a new metric you can track within Google Analytics 4. These are engaged users, or someone who stayed on the page for longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event or visited more than 2 pages on your website. Ideally, a good benchmark for active users is 60% – 70% of your total users. 

*Note that in Google Analytics 4, active users will be labeled as just “users”.

Why is this metric important for understanding user engagement? Increasing new users is a really great indicator that your brand awareness is growing. If you want to take this a step further, you can also see how many of these users are engaging with your website, viewing multiple pages, and spending more time on your site.

If you’re noticing that you have a lot of new users but not as many active users, it may be because your site needs some UX improvements so visitors are given a great first impression of your website.

Engaged Sessions

The engaged session metric will also be something new with Google Analytics 4. Just like with an active user, an engaged session is when someone spends more than 10 seconds on your site, viewed more than 2 pages, or completed a conversion. 

An additional, new metric in Google Analytics 4 is engaged sessions per user. This number can be found by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the number of total users. So, if you have 683 engaged sessions and 1,100 total users, your engaged sessions per user is 0.62, or 62%.

Just like your active users, a good benchmark for your engagement rate is anywhere between 60% – 70%

Why is this metric important? What we provided above highlights your entire website’s engagement. But you can also narrow this down to specific pages. By finding specific pages that have higher engaged sessions, you can continue to promote that product/service/insight on multiple platforms. 

On the other hand, you can find pages that aren’t performing as well and have lower engaged sessions. This could be a great indication to rework those pages, rewrite the blog, or to better promote the page across different mediums, like social media and email blasts.

Bounce Rate

Since engaged sessions are now an engagement metric in Google Analytics 4, you can use it to get a better idea of what your bounce rate percentage is. Simply inverse the percentage of engaged sessions to get your bounce rate. 

This bounce rate will tell you how many users stayed less than 10 seconds on your site. So, continuing with the example above, if the engagement rate is 62% that means that 38% of total users went to your site and then immediately left.

Average Engagement Time

This is an important metric to show you how long your active users are spending on your website. If you’re noticing that people aren’t spending a lot of time on your page, and aren’t converting, it’s likely that something needs to be adjusted. 

Again, use this metric to see where users are spending the most time on your site. If you’re noticing that your blog posts, case studies, landing pages, or other online materials are getting little engagement time, try creating evergreen, engaging, and authentic content.

Events

Now the main difference you’ll see in UA vs GA4 engagement metrics is it’s now tracking events rather than goals. Ultimately, this is going to help you see a more well-rounded view of your users and their engagement. 

An event now includes any activity on your website, from a form being filled out to a user viewing one of your pages. This is where it is essential to analyze what you want to know about user activity on your website. 

Make sure the events you are tracking are the most important for measuring your marketing strategies. So, if you’re an eCommerce website, you probably want to be tracking when users are browsing the inventory, adding products to their carts, and eventually checking out. 

If your website’s main objective is to disperse information and show yourself as an industry expert, you should be tracking events that occur on your blog posts or case study pages. Events like page scroll depth, video progress (if relevant), and clicks.

a screenshot of conversion examples in Google Analytics 4.

Conversions

In Universal Analytics, you had to set up goals that would then track your conversions. It’s going to look a bit different in Google Analytics 4. All goals have turned into events, and you can mark your most important events as conversions. 

Simply toggle the switch to indicate which events you’d like to mark as conversions. We recommend marking events like form submissions and phone calls as conversions.

two events that are showing they can be marked as conversions in Google Analytics 4.

Why is this metric important? No matter the purpose of your website, you’re going to want users to take action. Conversions are one of the best ways to track user engagement in Google Analytics 4. 

Not only can you see specific actions being taken, but you can see where these conversions are coming from. You may see conversions come from an email campaign you sent out, a social advertisement, or a pay-per-click campaign. 

Especially during a time when you need to reevaluate your strategies, being able to see where conversions are happening can help you focus your attention on those specific channels. 

How to Improve Engagement Metrics in Google Analytics

With a little time, specific tools, and website testing, you can make changes that will benefit users navigating your site. 

Explore the Why

In marketing, there isn’t usually a one-size-fits-all answer as to why things are happening. Here are a few tips you can explore to gain a more accurate depiction of ways to improve your engagement metrics. 

Depending on your industry, there could be multiple reasons for a decrease in engagement. If you work in an economically dependent industry, this could play a huge factor in site engagement. 

There will be similar effects if your business has a seasonality factor. If that’s the case, try comparing year-over-year data rather than month-over-month, so you can get a better view of what’s happening through each season of the year. 

If you are seeing dips in engagement, don’t panic! What’s important is that you’re continuing your strategies and creating engaging, evergreen content that can be used across multiple platforms to engage more of your audience.

Encourage Engagement Across Multiple Channels

It’s important to reach your audience where they are. Cross-promotions allow for your message to spread to a wider audience, nudging them to visit your site and discover your content. 

You can use various internet marketing tactics like content writing, email newsletters, social media advertising, and pay-per-click advertising to capture your user’s attention and send them to your website.

Test Your Theories

As we said, there sometimes isn’t a definitive answer to why engagement is increasing or decreasing. So, it’s never a bad idea to test what you think may be the reason for the fluctuation or try implementing a new strategy. 

When you’re A/B testing, make sure you’re not changing everything at once. You should only change one element at a time, so you can accurately identify the most positive effects on your user engagement in Google Analytics 4.

Need help analyzing your current strategies and pinpointing areas of improvement on your website? Contact our specialists today!

This blog was originally published on September 25, 2019, and updated on June 28, 2023.

With machine learning becoming more prominent and the needs of online users becoming highly specialized, marketers (and search engines!) are seeking ways to optimize their reach on the web. Google Performance Max does exactly what it sounds like – it maximizes your performance

Google processes over 8.5 billion searches per day, which would be impossible for mere humans to keep up with. Machine learning and advanced AI technologies allow users’ needs to be met in an efficient and time-sensitive manner.

In this article, we’ll cover important tips to help you adapt to these new technologies, including helpful resources and best practices for the creation, implementation, and evaluation of Performance Max campaigns.

What Is Google Performance Max & How Does It Work?

Google Performance Max is an automated campaign structure that uses machine learning to understand consumer trends and adjust your ads accordingly to be shown in various formats across Google channels (YouTube, Search, Gmail, Discovery, and more). 

Google will automatically optimize your performance for the channels your target audience visits the most, allowing your ad spend to be used responsibly to target the right audience that may eventually convert (buy your product).

If you’re not a marketer, here’s a fun example to help you understand Performance Max campaigns: Think of it like a buffet at your favorite restaurant!

If you’re bringing a group of people together and have only one entree, it can be difficult to satisfy everyone in the group with that single choice. Each person has different preferences. But with a buffet, everyone can be served something different. You can satisfy the preferences of multiple people with a single restaurant.

Similarly, Google Performance Max uses a single campaign across many channels/formats to satisfy a variety of people, no matter which one they prefer.

Keep reading to uncover Performance Max best practices to enhance your Google Ads experience. Check out the Google Ads Help Center for step-by-step guidance on setting up your Performance Max Campaign.

10 Performance Max Best Practices

Now that we’ve identified what Google Performance Max is, let’s move on to some best practices that will allow you to get the most value out of your campaign.

  1. Use it in conjunction with your other search campaigns. If the query exactly matches a keyword you’re bidding on, the Search campaign you have running will show its ad. However, if it doesn’t match exactly, Google will show either the Search ad or the Performance Max ad (whichever has the highest Ad Rank score).
  1. Select one of two bidding strategies (make sure it aligns with your business goals):
  • Maximize conversions: Use this strategy when you’d like to get the most conversions possible  (i.e. leads, signing up for an email list, phone calls, etc.)
  • Maximize conversion value: Use this strategy when you value certain conversions more than others (i.e. If you’d ultimately rather have more leads rather than phone calls, give them a higher value so Google will optimize for those)
  1. If you already know your target audience, you can either use your own data like Customer Match/Audience lists or specify various groups using Audience Signals. These are suggestions that give Google an idea of which audiences to go after, speeding up the machine learning process of discovering new audiences. Google will still show your ads to other audiences aside from these, this is just simply a starting point.

    For example, if you run an event venue for theater performances, you can select audience signals like “Frequently Attends Live Events,” “Performing Arts Tickets,” or “Theatre Shows and Plays,” among others.
Audience Signals in Performance Max
  1. Consider using a feature called “Final URL Expansion.” This option is a new way to automatically customize your ads to match the queries your audience is searching for, even if you aren’t bidding on those exact keywords. If you opt into this, Google will choose the landing page on your site that best matches the user’s query, along with developing a dynamic headline and description.

    Now, you may be reading that and thinking, “Hey, I want control over which pages on my site Google can choose from!” and that’s a valid point. There are cases where you, as the marketer, will decide that letting Google automate everything isn’t the best solution.

    In that case, you can choose to restrict certain URLs (“URL exclusion”). Additionally, if you only have one landing page that you’re directing people to, it wouldn’t make sense to use this feature.
  1. Another Performance Max best practice is to make sure you’re supplying as many assets as it’s asking for. This gives Google plenty of options to choose from. Enter the maximum amount of headlines and descriptions, use as many audience signals and match lists as are relevant, use a high-quality video, and upload a variety of photos for Google to choose from.

    It’s best to have a minimum of 5 versions of text assets (4 headlines, 5 descriptions) and 5 versions of image assets. Having a variety of assets also contributes to a higher ad strength (ideally, you’ll want your ad to be in the “Excellent” category).

    To expand on this, you’re probably wondering about the details of Performance Max asset requirements. We’ll cover this in the next section.
  1. Visual content is so important to connect with your users and capture their attention. Be sure to keep your content fresh and upload new highly relevant assets regularly. 
  1. Pay attention to how well your assets are performing and replace the ones that aren’t performing well. Be sure to replace them, not remove them to avoid negatively affecting your campaigns.
  1. If you’re targeting multiple products, try focusing on only one for each asset group so it can be as personalized as possible. You can have a maximum of 100 asset groups per campaign. However, you’re going to want to make sure you have enough budget (the more asset groups you have, the more budget you’ll want to have as well).
  1. Some sources recommend a daily budget of at least $50-$100/day for Performance Max campaigns in order to receive enough data to analyze results adequately.
  1. Keep your campaign running for at least 6 weeks to give Google enough time to learn your strategies and fully optimize the account.

Performance Max Asset Requirements

When you go to create your Performance Max campaign, it will walk you through the asset requirements you’ll need. These include:

  • Business Name
  • Up to 20 images (in a variety of sizes – square, landscape, etc.)
  • Up to 5 logos (at least one must be a square)
  • Up to 5 videos that are 10 seconds or less 
  • Up to 5 headlines (30 characters each)
  • Up to 5 long headlines (90 characters each)
  • Descriptions (one 60-character description and up to four other 90-character descriptions)
  • Call to action button
  • Final URL

For more specific guidance on what size photos to upload, check out the assets section of Google Ads API.

In addition to these, you may be familiar with ad extensions, now also called Assets, which take up additional space in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This allows for more clickable components in your ads and provides additional information to help your audience decide whether or not your ad answers their query. 

Here are some examples that you can add to your Performance Max campaigns:

  • Four or more sitelinks (additional pages on your site that you wouldn’t mind leading traffic to)
  • Promotions (10% off, $25 off, etc.)
  • Prices and descriptions of your products
  • Phone number of your business
  • Structured snippets (additional information based on category – styles, types, etc.)
  • Lead Form (includes basic contact information for your user to fill out)
  • Callouts (small pieces of information that aren’t clickable, but still provide relevant information. i.e. “Free Shipping”)
  • Locations (connected to your Google Business Profile)

How To Evaluate Campaign Performance

Now that you’ve set your campaigns up for success, how can you ensure these best practices are working?

  1. Google Ads provides an “Insights page” to combine your data with larger trends across Google. It will notify you of optimization opportunities and any problems to address. There are  different types of insights: asset audience insights, search trends, auction insights, demand forecasts, and more. 
Trends from Insights page in Google Ads campaign
  1. Run an experiment! Test the performance of your campaigns with or without a Performance Max campaign. 
  2. Remember, be sure to give the campaign at least 6 weeks before you come to any conclusions about its performance.

What Are The Benefits Of Performance Max Campaigns?

Something that’s unique about Google Ads, and specifically Performance Max, is that it focuses heavily on your “why.” Why are you seeking to run Google Ads for your business? What is your ultimate goal? 

Google Ads optimizes entirely around whichever goal you select, giving you more store visits, sales, or whichever goal you’ve identified as most important to your business.

Select Campaign Objective screen in Google Ads

Benefits For Users

  1. Receive information in a variety of formats to fit any preference – search, discover, video, and more.
  2. Show more visual assets such as photos and videos rather than only text ads for a more engaging experience.
  3. Obtain access to products and services that they have an interest in. Meet their needs for products that they’re already searching for, or help them identify something they didn’t realize they need.
  4. Create a more unified experience rather than an orphaned ad on a single platform. Repetition and seeing ads in a variety of formats/platforms help users identify with the brand.

Benefits For Marketers & Business Owners

  1.  Simplify the campaign set-up process (who doesn’t love that?). You’ll only need to set up one campaign, and yet it will be optimized for multiple channels. 

    Without using Performance Max, you would need to set up individual campaigns for YouTube, Search, and Display, along with individual budgets for each. This could limit the number of impressions, interactions, site visits, and conversions you receive. 
  1. Receive insight into your top audiences and target those categories specifically. You’ll also receive insight into which channels (YouTube, Search, Gmail, etc.) your audience is using the most. 

    If you already know your target audience, you can specify various groups using Audience Signals, as mentioned previously.
  1. Understand rising search trends and identify future opportunities to capitalize on. Google provides this information under the “Insights” tab in your Google Ads account.
Search Trends in Google Ads
  1. Draw more people to your physical store location if you decide to use Performance Max for Store Goals. This is especially helpful for retail businesses.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Performance Max Campaigns?

In mentioning the benefits of Performance Max, it’s also important that we mention some disadvantages. 

  1. Marketers will have less control. Although you provide the assets, Google ultimately chooses the combinations, which could be in any number of formats. There’s no way to predict the exact combinations that will show.
  1. If you don’t have a video to upload, Google will create one for you from the images you provide. However, a point of caution is that if it ends up not being high enough quality, Google may stop showing your video ad, which puts you at risk for significant impacts in your campaign’s reach and performance.
  1. It may take some time for Google’s machine learning algorithm to learn and adapt to your bid strategies, budget, audience, and highest-performing ad formats.
  1. Pay attention to the size of your images that you upload to ensure they aren’t getting cut off in any of the formats it appears in.
  1. It’s challenging to add negative keywords to a Performance Max campaign – you’ll need to contact a Google Ads representative.
  1. It can get expensive, especially if you are running search campaigns, too.

In summary, while Performance Max campaigns have both advantages and disadvantages, they ultimately can help you diversify your channel mix, giving you more unique opportunities to reach the right audiences. 

In my opinion, automation is the direction the world is headed. It’s not a trend, but rather, something marketers must adapt to. With these best practices in mind, you’ll be able to optimize your performance to be the most effective. 

Additional Performance Max Resources

  1. Take a Google Performance Max course through Skillshop – it’s something I found very helpful when researching information for this blog!
  2. Solutions 8 has a comprehensive guide to Google Performance Max.
  3. Having some problems with your campaign? Check out Google’s Troubleshooting Guide.

Looking for additional support as you dive into Performance Max? Reach out to our team to learn how our search engine marketers can help you optimize your campaigns.

Many retail business owners focus on their brand voice and what they want to share about their business in their paid Google ads. Few business owners, however, optimize this wording to be what their customers are actually searching for on Google

Neglecting to understand this intent can be devastating to your marketing because you’ll waste your ad money by paying for clicks of people who aren’t looking to buy right now. So, how do you understand your customers’ intent to meet their needs effectively?

In this blog post, we’ll learn how to speak your customers’ language using Google Ads and identify practical market research tips to effectively meet your users’ intent.

Optimizing For User Intent Is Essential

What Is User Intent?

User intent is essentially the meaning, or purpose, of the user’s search – why are they searching for that? What do they expect to see in the Google search results? 

A big part of understanding your users’ intent is understanding where they’re at in the marketing funnel. Are they ready to buy the item right now, or are they just looking for more information? The top three stages of the marketing funnel are what we’ll focus on in this blog post: awareness, consideration, and conversion.

Marketing Funnel diagram with five sections varying in length

Here’s how the marketing funnel works:

  1. AwarenessThe customer is just getting to learn about your brand, products, and what you do. They aren’t ready to buy yet; they’re just learning.
  2. Consideration – In this stage, the customer may be asking questions or comparing products or brands
  3. Conversion – This is when a customer actually buys a product or service.

Each of these sections of the marketing funnel correlate to one of the main categories of search intent, which we’ll get into next.

Categories Of Search Intent

What was the last thing you Googled? Were you asking a question? Looking for an image or a funny video? Trying to buy something?

Chances are, your search query (a.k.a. the word or phrase you typed into the search bar) falls into one of the following categories of intent: 

  1. Informational: The user is looking for information to answer a question. 
  • i.e. “How to make chocolate cream pie;” “Is it supposed to rain today?”
  1. Commercial: The user may be looking to buy something soon, but isn’t quite ready yet.
  • i.e. “Best toys for children;” “Nike shoes vs. New Balance shoes”
  1. Transactional: The user is ready to buy and that’s a clear purpose of their search.
  • i.e. “Coffee makers for sale;” “Where can I buy Legos?” 

If your business goal is to sell a product, you’re going to want to optimize your product pages for more of the commercial/transactional intent searches, since those customers are specifically looking to buy something. 

However, if your business goal is to establish yourself as an authority in your field, you might optimize your blog posts for informational searches. By answering their questions, you can  position your brand as credible, knowledgeable, and helpful. 

Why Is User Intent Important To My Business?

Let’s look at a practical example of this: If you are a retail business that sells professional clothing (blazers, tailored suits, etc.), you could waste a lot of money trying to rank your product pages in Google search results for phrases like, “what is considered business professional attire?” or “how to tailor a suit.” While these are relevant to what your business offers, users who are searching for these aren’t ready to buy yet. Their intent is informational, and they just want an answer to their question.

Someone searching for “black blazers for sale” or “tailored suits near me,” however, is ready to buy and looking specifically for that item at this exact time. Their intent is transactional. Focus on optimizing your product page ads for transactional intent to ensure you’re not wasting your ad money on people who aren’t ready to buy yet.

Using Google’s Natural Language API

Understanding user intent is so important that even the search engines are trying to do it! One way that Google discovers user intent is by using its Natural Language API to uncover the true meaning of a word or phrase. Try using it with a few sentences that are related to your business!

Google's Natural Language API diagram

How To Understand Consumer Preferences In Google Searches: Be The Solution They’re Searching For

What Are Consumer Preferences?

Consumer preferences are the user’s choices and opinions that influence what they search for in Google (color, size, style, brand, etc.). Consumer preferences can be hard to understand because when users go to type an item into the Google search bar, they might refine their search several times before identifying what they’re looking for. That’s why just simply looking at the search queries can be misleading.

Example Of A Consumer Preference

A user types in the following search queries, each time refining their search to be more specific in order to find what they’re looking for: 

  1. Water Bottle
  2. Reusable Water Bottle
  3. Reusable Water Bottle For Women
  4. Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women
  5. Light Blue Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women

With the first search query of “water bottle,” we weren’t sure exactly what kind of water bottle they were looking for or what their preferences were, which is why it can be challenging at times to understand consumer preferences.

Why Are Consumer Preferences Important To Understand For My Business?

Consumer preferences are important to understand because they lay the foundation for the creation of your ads, helping you relate more to your users and meet their needs more accurately.

How To Identify Consumer Preferences Online

It will benefit you more to choose keywords that are very specific, such as the final search in the example above (“Light Blue Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women”). 

This is because there will be a lot of competition for a generic term like “water bottle” and you may be spending money for clicks of people who are searching for cases of plastic water bottles or any other type of water bottle, rather than a specific, reusable one. By choosing specific keywords that have less competition (known as long-tail keywords), your business will benefit because you will have a greater chance of being exactly what your customer is looking for.

If users aren’t interacting with your Google ads, it doesn’t necessarily mean people aren’t interested; you might just not be using the correct language. 

For example, if you’re creating ads for the real estate field, are customers searching for the words “house,” “residence,” “apartment,” “home,” or something else? Do they use any abbreviations? Are you targeting an audience in another part of the world who may refer to an apartment as a “flat?” All of these are important factors to consider when optimizing your ads to be sure you’re using the terms they’re using.

Why Are My Customers Searching For This?

In addition to understanding the exact words your customers are using, you should also understand why they’re searching for it. Is it something they need, or just simply an item they want? Identifying their needs and wants can help you understand what other topics they might be interested in regarding that item.

Putting It Into Practice: Practical Tools For Easy Market Research

Market Research is an essential part of understanding your customers and speaking their language. Some of the benefits include: 

  • More specific targeting of the correct users who are ready to buy.
  • A higher click-through rate for your ads, because it’s relevant to what they’re searching for.
  • More relevant traffic to your site, which could lead to more people buying your products.

Failing to do accurate research can cause your business to waste money showing irrelevant ads to people who are searching for something completely different. 

Using Google Autocomplete for Market Research:

Start typing one of the products or services your business offers into the search bar of Google and see a list of the suggested searches that pop up (this feature is called “Google Autocomplete”). Then, use this language/wording in your ads. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re speaking your customers’ language.

Google search bar with Google Autocomplete suggestions

Using Google Trends For Market Research:

Another helpful tool to understand user preferences is called “Google Trends.” 

This tool will give you insights into what users search for. Simply enter a topic into the search bar and you’ll see specific data such as:

  • Location
  • Category
  • A graph of the keyword’s search volume over a specific time frame

You can narrow down your search even further by indicating:

  • Image search
  • News Search
  • Web Search
  • Google Shopping
  • Youtube Search

Explore related topics/search queries and compare the data to the past year (or several years) to identify searches that consistently do well, not just ones that perform well during certain times of the year.

Let’s put this tool into practice with an example: Engagement Rings (white, rose, and yellow gold). Are most people searching for a classic yellow gold engagement ring, or do they prefer a more trendy color like rose gold?

As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve compared white, rose, and yellow gold engagement ring search queries from 2004-2021. You can see that the number of searches for “rose gold engagement ring” has massively increased within the past few years. This proves Google Trends can give you valuable insights into what your specific customers are searching for and how your business can adapt to those preferences.

Google Trends graph comparing engagement ring color trends

Examples Of Businesses Understanding Their Customers Well

  1. L.L.Bean – High School Backpacks: The first thing that Google Autocomplete recommends when you type “best school backpacks for” is “best school backpacks for high school.” Although L.L.Bean has only one high school backpack style on their website, their ad is the top choice on Google for this search. They even crafted their ad to match this search by saying, “High School Backpacks | School Backpacks at L.L.Bean.” This is a great example of recognizing what users are searching for and then adapting your ads to fit it.
  1. The Hershey Company – Reese’s Big Cup With Potato Chips: The recent development of this new product was a result of their market research with their customers, finding a trend in people desiring a mid-morning snack that was more substantial than a candy bar. To respond to this customer desire, Hershey developed a Snack Cake in 2020, and will soon release a Reese’s cup with potato chips. According to Food Business News, Hershey is “constantly researching and staying in touch with consumers.” This understanding of their customers’ needs and wants has allowed them to stay on top of trends and create products and ads that align with their customers’ desires.
  1. American Eagle Outfitters – Trends of jeans: As you can see in the screenshot from Google Trends, there has been a huge increase in searches within the past few years of “mom jeans.” American Eagle has seen this trend and has adapted to it by having a specific section on their website for “mom jeans” and by using this term in their ads.

Google Trends graph for mom jean trend

Examples Of Businesses NOT Understanding Their Customers Well

  1. Bolthouse Farms Baby Carrots: The other day, I was at the grocery store looking to buy sweet potatoes, and I picked up a bag of orange vegetables that I thought said “sweet potatoes.” After taking a second look, however, I saw that it was actually a bag of carrots that said, “sweet petites.” 

If this were to have happened in a Google Search, the customer wouldn’t know to type in “sweet petites” when looking for carrots, and therefore, the company would not be meeting the needs of their customers.

This is a great example of misunderstanding what customers are looking for. Be clear and straightforward in your ads and tell users exactly what they’re going to get. Imagine how disappointed customers will be if they go to make a recipe that calls for sweet potatoes and they realize they actually bought carrots instead!

  1. Lenovo: When doing a very generic search in Google for “mouse,” immediately I see a lot of Lenovo computer mice for sale. My intent in searching for that might just have been to see a picture of an animal, but it was hard for Google to understand my intent behind that. It would have been better for Lenovo to focus on a long-tail keyword, such as “Lenovo wireless computer mouse.”
Google search for the word "mouse"
  1. Amazon: When I type “what is a gardening spade” into Google, I am in the informational category of intent. I’m not looking to buy anything, I am just looking for a description of a gardening spade. However, the first result that comes up shows a 5-piece gardening set for sale on Amazon. Amazon would benefit more by showing that ad to someone searching for “gardening tools for sale” because they would be in the transactional category of intent.
Google search showing gardening spade ads

Conclusion: How Can I Implement User Intent, Consumer Preferences, And Market Research For My Business?

As a retail business owner, you have an obligation to stay on top of what your target audience is searching for in order to meet their needs effectively with Google Ads. Without this knowledge, your advertising dollars will be wasted because you’ll be targeting the wrong audience, at the wrong stage of the marketing funnel, with the wrong ads. 

Steps for Getting Started

To reiterate, here are some practical steps that will help you speak your customers’ language and understand them better:

  1. Evaluate your intent and make sure it aligns with your customers’ intent.
    • Where are your customers in terms of the marketing funnel (awareness, consideration, conversion)?
    • Which category of intent (informational, commercial, or transactional) are they indicating in their searches? 
    • Use Google’s Natural Language API to evaluate the semantics behind the words you’re using on your website and in your ads.
  2. Address your user’s preferences using long-tail keywords when possible.
  3. Perform market research to understand how to speak your customers’ language.
    • Type products into Google to see what Google Autocomplete suggests.
    • Use Google Trends to identify opportunities for your marketing.
  4. Create ads that meet your customers’ needs and help them find exactly what they’re looking for.

Additional Resources

Need some extra help? Here are some additional resources that can help you understand how to meet your customers’ needs better using Google Ads:

  1. Check out SEMrush for a complete guide to using Google Trends for keyword research.
  2. Tower Marketing has a great resource for identifying your target audience using Google Ads through market research, segmentation, and other data resources.
  3. HubSpot has a useful guide/template to do market research.

For additional help or questions, contact a Tower Marketing professional to elevate your marketing strategy and achieve your business goals.

Whether you listen to Christmas music year-round or dread the holiday rush, there’s no denying that the holidays are the most profitable time of year for many businesses. In fact, estimates from the National Retail Foundation attributed between $755.3 to $766.7 billion in sales last holiday season alone.

In order to capitalize on some of the biggest shopping days of the year, here are a few of our favorite holiday marketing ideas and advertising tips.

General Tips for Holiday Advertising

Before we dig into the tactics that can help boost your business during the holiday season, it’s important to understand the bigger picture of marketing during the holidays. Here are five goals to keep in mind when planning your holiday marketing campaigns.

1. Be Timely

It’s never too early to start planning your holiday marketing ideas and initiatives. Pages can take up to 45 days to rank, so we recommend moving any web-based tactics live no later than mid-October. While Christmas isn’t until the end of December, many people start shopping in early- to mid-November, well before Black Friday deals hit.

2. Be Brief

With advertising competition at an all-time high, attention spans are short. Keep your messaging short, sweet, and impactful for the best results.

3. Stay Focused

Online noise and increased ad costs mean that your holiday advertising ideas have to be sharply focused to make an impact. If you have a limited budget, focus on a few key days of sales based on historical data from years past.

If you’re looking for the strongest return possible on a small budget, remarketing is another great option, as you’re likely to see a higher conversion rate by advertising to former and current customers.

4. Respect Your Brand

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that your blue brand has to transform to red and green! Consider what the holidays look like visually for your business, and allow your foundational brand to shine through in every marketing initiative you undertake.

Here are some holiday angles to consider:

  • Feel-good, charitable, emotional, and grateful
  • Exciting, flashy, and full of great deals
  • Fun, bright, and family-focused
  • Non-denominational, winter-focused, or inclusive of all winter holidays

When choosing a direction for your holiday marketing ideas, always consider your business’s brand, tone, and overall marketing goals. Slapping a graphic Santa Claus on your year-round advertising simply doesn’t cut it.

5. Be Truly Competitive

Don’t expect to own the market and see a massive boost in sales if you’re only willing to offer 10% off and free shipping. In order to succeed at marketing during the holidays, you’ll need to be generous with your sales and special offers, especially to loyal customers who have waited all year to make a big purchase and get a great deal.

If you’re a service-based company, consider offering vouchers or pre-orders that customers can buy now and use later. Not only does this create urgency and encourage sales, but it allows you to pre-schedule and guarantee your next year of business ahead of time.

In order to rank during the competitive holiday season, you’ll need to foster strategic search engine optimization (SEO) on your website year round. That being said, here are a few considerations to keep top-of-mind to expand your optimization during the holidays.

Holiday SEO & PPC Strategies

SEO and PPC should be a major focus when it comes to holiday marketing ideas. Making timely gift guide landing pages for holiday search terms is one of the best ways to capitalize on the busy shopping season.

Fill these pages not only with best-selling products but thoughtful content that will help customers who are unfamiliar with your business make a quick and easy purchase. And, be sure to focus on internal linking and all of the usual SEO-boosting suspects to get your pages ranking.

Keep in mind that like with any paid medium during the holidays, you’ll pay more per click than you do during other times of the year. The heavy competition can be discouraging when deploying your holiday marketing ideas through PPC, but it can pay off big if you are strategic in your keywords and bids.

The Merits of Google My Business

An often-overlooked element of your website’s search engine optimization is your Google My Business (GMB) profile. This panel allows customers to view your company’s store hours, reviews, and updates without even having to click through to your website.

Be sure to complete your GMB profile before the holiday season begins, and revisit it frequently to ensure your hours, contact info, and other store details stay up to date.

Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns: Signups & Savings

The holiday season is one of the best times to grow your email list organically. The trick? Offering direct, valuable savings to customers to encourage them to sign up. Once you have a customer hooked, here are a few tricks to prevent them from unsubscribing:

  • Use subject lines to create urgency around sales and deals
  • Create email automations for abandoned carts
  • Offer valuable content like gift guides and product tips

Inboxes are especially cluttered this time of year, so be sure that each email you send has a true purpose and won’t simply frustrate your customer to the point of unsubscribing.

Holiday Social Advertising Strategies

With high costs and oversaturated platforms, social advertising during the holidays can be incredibly competitive. You’ll have to be at the top of your game if you want to stand out among the crowd.

Giveaways, contests, and other content that encourages audience engagement can be particularly helpful in breaking through the noise. While you have limited space to get your message across, try to think about your audience and speak directly to them in a novel and creative way to grab their attention. At the end of the day, authentic ads that showcase great deals will do far more than screaming at users with all caps and bright flashing signs.

Writing Content for the Holiday Season

When it comes to holiday marketing ideas, content is everything. Here are three tips to keep your content thriving and bringing in new customers.

1. Be Timely

We can’t stress enough the importance of timeliness when it comes to seasonal content. It can take weeks or months for your content to be indexed and served to users. And, many users start researching holiday decorations, gifts, and more up to two months before the big day. 

That means any search-driven content you have planned needs to go live no later than October. It may feel strange working on holiday copy before fall has even arrived, but it will pay off big time come the holiday season.

2. Consider Your Unique Holiday Customers

During the holidays, millions of people shop for gifts at stores they’re unfamiliar with. One of the best ways to earn a new customer is to make sure they have everything they need to make a decision (and a purchase), even if they’re unfamiliar with your industry.

Consider building out your product pages further to aid in product comparison and streamline decision-making. Product guides that go over sizing, features, and the differences between product models can also make online shopping a breeze for those unfamiliar with your store.

3. Utilize Internal Linking

Internal linking is one of the top ways that Google understands the architecture and content relationships on your website. This means that high-quality internal linking can help your holiday-themed blogs gain traction faster when every day counts.

Use links with purpose. No reader wants a constant bombardment of product links without any explanation to help them make a decision. Be sure to include plenty of helpful and educational content links, as well.

Breaking the Mold with Creative Holiday Campaigns

With so much noise online, you’ll need to think differently when brainstorming holiday marketing ideas if you want to stand out in your customers’ eyes. Consider the go-to marketing tactics of competitors and industry leaders, and then brainstorm adjacent or opposing ideas to get started.

One of our favorite innovative holiday marketing strategies over the years was a digital holiday card we created for local law firm Barley Snyder. They wanted a unique and memorable way to wish their clients and colleagues a happy holiday season. We planned, designed, and animated a custom digital greeting card that was equal parts meaningful and charming.

Barley Snyder Winter Holiday Wishes 2019

Check out the full Barley Snyder case study. 

Dreaming of an amazing holiday marketing campaign but don’t have the time or resources to bring it to life? See how our team can help!

Whether you work with a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketing team, you’ve probably received reports that have a lot of information you don’t fully understand. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the key performance indicators (KPIs) you should pay attention to, regardless of your industry. We’ll also review how you can analyze your digital marketing performance metrics and explain what your spend is going towards. 

What Are Internet Marketing Metrics?

There are two buzzwords you’ll hear when talking about digital marketing: analytics and data.

Not sure what these terms mean in the context of Internet marketing? Simply put, analytics help us see the data that’s being processed to provide us with the valuable performance metrics we use to make informed business decisions. 

That raises yet another question: what are marketing metrics, and which ones should I be paying attention to? 

Marketing metrics are the measurable, quantifiable insights you or your agency use to measure the success of campaigns and projects. They’re the most important indicators you should pay attention to because they help you determine exactly where your money is going. 

We’ve established that you need data to make informed decisions. But which metrics should you pay attention to on your report? 

Digital Marketing KPIs: What They Are, Why They Matter, & How to Analyze Them

While there are hundreds of metrics to consider, we’re going to review the most important digital marketing KPIs for each marketing channel. Each of these metrics are important, but you can’t draw a single conclusion without looking at the bigger picture. 

Overall Digital Marketing KPIs

The KPIs below apply to every channel and are fairly universal across digital marketing.

Impressions

What It Is

Impressions are how many times your content is shown to a user.

Why It Matters

Impressions matter for many reasons. The most important reason is that they reveal how many people are seeing your content, whether it’s an ad in a PPC campaign or an Instagram post. 

How to Analyze It

For a brand exposure campaign, higher impressions are great. But for a lead generation campaign, impressions may not be as important as conversions. 

Clicks

What Is It

Clicks are how many people click on your content. 

Why It Matters

Clicks are when a user takes the action you want them to. This could be clicking on a sale link in an email, reading news from a social media post, or clicking on a video ad. 

How to Analyze It

You should analyze clicks for every campaign you run online. If you see low clicks, be sure to dive into the issue. It could be a simple spelling mistake on your ad copy, or it could mean you’re targeting the wrong audience. 

If you see an abundant amount of clicks on your content, make note of this and document exactly what you think is working. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

What It Is

Click-through rate is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. 

What It Means

You can use CTR to determine which campaigns are successful and which ones need improvement. For example, if you received 1,000 clicks on an ad that had 5,000 impressions, you would have a 20% CTR.

How to Analyze It

First things first: there is no “good” click-through rate. Every campaign, industry, and business has different benchmarks for CTRs. Google Ads campaigns have much lower click-through rates than Instagram ads, but this doesn’t mean one is working better than the other. 

If you see a dip or increase in your CTR, always question it within the bigger picture. Was there a change in the wording on a button? Was there an engaging picture? 

Engagement Rate

What It Is

According to Hootsuite, “engagement rate is a formula that measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to reach or other audience figures. This can include reactions, likes, comments, shares, saves, direct messages, mentions, click-throughs, and more (depending on the social network).”

What It Means

Engagement rate shows the interest level your content generates among users. You should always keep track of the pieces of content with the highest engagement rates

How to Analyze It

Engagement rate can be a critical deciding factor when allocating more marketing spend. If you see that videos are driving traffic to your site and experiencing a long retention period, you should consider spending more on videos. The same goes for a low engagement rate. If you see that videos are not performing well, you may decide to reduce your video budget. 

Conversions 

Line graph of the number of conversions.

What It Is

Conversions are actions that users complete on your site. 

What It Means

If you’re a service-based company, one conversion is lead generation. On the other hand, an eCommerce website’s conversion could be purchasing a product. Simply put, a conversion is a final action a user completes on your site. 

How to Analyze It

In most cases, conversions mean nothing without a business goal. If you find you’re exceeding or underperforming your conversion goals, it may be time to:

  1.  Reevaluate your objectives. 
  2. Ask your marketing agency what they’re seeing on their end 

Conversion Rate

What It Is

Conversion rates are the percentage of website visitors that complete a conversion. This is calculated simply by taking the number of conversions divided by users, or impressions. 

What It Means

Conversion rate should be one of the first metrics you look at when checking your reports. This is because it’s a simple way to determine if your digital marketing is working or not. 

How to Analyze It

A high conversion rate can indicate a successful campaign, and a low conversion rate signals something isn’t quite working. 

Cost Per Conversion

What It Is

Cost per conversion is the total cost of the traffic (or impressions) by the number of conversions. 

What It Means

In other words, cost per conversion is the actual spend it took to obtain a customer. 

How to Analyze It

Cost per conversion is the easiest way for you to answer, “how much did it cost me in advertising to get my customer to do action X.”

You should use cost per conversion to evaluate your online advertising success. Don’t be alarmed if your cost per conversion is high when you first start digital marketing. It should decrease over time, and if it doesn’t, contact your marketing agency to solve this problem.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

What It Is

While cost per acquisition is often confused with cost per conversion, cost per acquisition is the total cost of a campaign divided by the number of conversions. 

What It Means

Just like cost per conversion, this is an easy way for you to examine the dollars and cents that went into your acquisitions. 

For example, if your total budget was $1,000 and you received 50 conversions, you paid $20 per acquisition. 

How to Analyze It

Like most KPIs, there is no “good” CPA. Every online business has different factors – such as margin and prices – that make up a “good” CPA. As you analyze your CPA, ask yourself, “is the cost of acquiring the new customer worth it?” 

Customer Lifetime Value

What It Is

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric you can use to determine the total revenue of a customer throughout their relationship with your business.

What It Means

You can use this metric to determine how much you can expect to make from one single customer. If you own a car dealership, you might see a high CLV, as a new car will need to be serviced often. If you own a service-based business that offers a one-time setup, you can expect a lower CLV.

How to Analyze It

Analyzing your CLV can be tough, as it may remain stagnant. However, this can be a valuable opportunity for you. If you can figure out ways to improve your CLV – such as loyalty programs and offering more services – you can greatly benefit from analyzing this metric. 

Email Marketing KPIs

List Growth Rate

A line chart of the list growth rate of an email list.

What It Is

List growth rate allows you to calculate whether your email list is growing. You can calculate the list growth rate by subtracting the number of unsubscribers from the number of new subscribers and dividing that by the number of email addresses in your list. 

What It Means

List growth rate is an easy way to determine if your email list is growing or declining.

How to Analyze It

You can use list growth rate to evaluate whether you should increase or cut back on your email marketing efforts. 

Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR)

What It Is

Click-to-open rate, according to Active Campaign, is the percentage of people who open an email campaign and also click on a link within that campaign. 

What It Means

Looking at your CTOR is a great and simple way to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. 

How to Analyze It

Analyzing CTOR is often better than measuring your open rate on your email. Open rate calculates the amount of subscribers who opened your email while CTOR also looks at those subscribers who opened the email, which ones also clicked on the links. 

Looking at your click-to-open rate will give you a better idea of who is engaging with your emails the most and if they are not, should you segment that list to further hone the strategy. 

Unsubscribe Rate

What It Is

Unsubscribe rate is the opposite of list growth rate, as it shows you the percentage of users who opted out of your mailing list after a campaign. 

What It Means

Looking at your unsubscribe rate tells you which types of emails are working for you.

How to Analyze It

Analyzing your unsubscribe rate may be counterintuitive at first, as you may think, “my emails aren’t working” and move on. But a high unsubscribe rate may be a good thing. Everybody wants bigger email lists, but there is value in only sending emails to only the most willing and engaged recipients. 

On the other hand, your unsubscribe rate may be a bad metric to look at because it may mean your emails have no value and that people on your list want out. Or, it could be a signal that you’re sending too many emails.

SEO KPIs

Backlinks

What It Is

Backlinks are links from other websites directing users to your website. 

What It Means

The number of backlinks you have is important for a multitude of reasons. Essentially, backlinks act like votes for a search engine. The more backlinks your website has, the more a search engine sees you as a trustworthy site. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing the number of backlinks you have, you should look at whether the number is increasing or decreasing when compared to another period. 

If your number of quality backlinks is increasing, you should continue to invest in SEO. If you see a low number of backlinks, you should probably still invest more in SEO to get “votes” for your site. 

Keywords

What It Is

Keywords are specific phrases, questions, or ideas that define what your content is about. 

What It Means

The number of keywords or “search queries” you have on your site is essential to a high-ranking website. The goal is to drive users to your site through your content, which should have keywords that users are searching for. The more keywords you have, the better chance you have of driving organic traffic to your website. 

For example, when you Google “what is the best coffee grinder for under $100?”, the keyword is “Best Coffee Grinder For Under $100”. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing keyword queries on your report, take note of ones that are outperforming other queries on your site. This will give you a better understanding of your customers and how they got to your site.

For example, if you see an increase in traffic on your site for product X, it may be worth investing in more content explaining the benefits of that item. You could also create search ads around that product, as you know people are searching for it 

Visibility Percentage (%)

A line chart depicting the visibility of keywords in SEO.

What It Is

According to SEMrush, “visibility % is based on click-through rate (CTR) that shows a website’s progress in Google’s top 100 for keywords from the current tracking campaign.” In layman’s terms, visibility percentage is how often your website is found by users.

What It Means

You can use visibility percentage to determine whether your website is being shown to users. A higher visibility percentage means you have a better chance of bringing in new users through your site. 

How to Analyze It

You can use visibility percentage as a baseline metric to help you measure your overall SEO efforts. If you’re seeing a growth in visibility percentage, that means your SEO is generally performing better. On the other hand, a drop in visibility percentage may be caused by outside factors, such as algorithm changes. 

Indexed Pages

What It Is

Indexed pages are specific pages on your site that a search engine contains within its database. 

What It Means

It’s important to consider the number of indexed pages on your site that a search engine has in its database. Pages that have been successfully indexed can be found by users through keywords and relatable content. 

It’s also important to look at your non-indexed pages, which are pages you don’t want users to find via a search engine, but still have some sort of value to you. These could be thank you pages sent to eCommerce customers after they purchase an item. 

How to Analyze It

Looking at indexed pages is a quick and easy way to see if the content on your website can be found by potential customers. If you see your number of indexed pages increasing, you know more people can find your content, visit your page, and possibly convert.

Domain Authority

What It Is

According to MOZ, “Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Domain Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking.”

What It Means

Domain authority is an SEO KPI, but it is not a Google ranking factor. Instead, it’s an AI-based ranking developed by MOZ to predict how well your site will rank compared to your competitors. 

How to Analyze It

Generally speaking, a higher Domain Authority score means your business will show up higher in search results than your competitors. Conversely, a lower Domain Authority often means you’ll be ranked lower than the competition. If you see that your DA is increasing, that means your investment in SEO is working.

How Customers Search For Your Business

What It Is

How Customers Search For Your Business is a local SEO metric found within Google My Business (GMB). This metric is actually a combination of three metrics: direct, discovery, and branded searches. 

Google defines these three metrics as:

  1. Direct. People who find your business profile by searching for your business name or address.
  2. Discovery. People who find your business profile by searching for a category, product, or service.
  3. Branded. Customers who find your listing by searching for a brand related to your business.

What It Means

Looking at this metric allows you to determine how people are finding your business profile on Google. If you know what users are searching for, you or your agency can optimize your content to match those trending metrics. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing this metric, be sure to look at the three metrics included in How Customers Search For Your Business. If you see that your search is lacking direct traffic, you may want to optimize your web pages to include your brand name in the page titles.

Pay Per Click (PPC) KPIs (Google Ads & Facebook)

In this section, we’ll review PPC KPIs, which include both Google Ads and Facebook. Most people do not realize that Facebook ads are technically PPC, even though it’s a social media channel.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

What It Is

Return on ad spend measures the amount of revenue your business earns for each dollar you spend on PPC advertising. 

What It Means

At the most basic level, ROAS measures how effectively you’re spending your advertising dollars.

How to Analyze It

When looking at ROAS, it’s important to remember that the higher the number, the better. For example, let’s say your ROAS is 10:1. This means that for every dollar you’re spending, you’re making $10. 

Always consider the goal of your campaign when looking at ROAS. While a lower ROAS may be great for brand awareness, it may not be as effective for generating eCommerce sales. 

ROAS is often confused with ROI. However, ROAS looks specifically at the campaign level, while ROI looks at the overall investment.

Social Media Marketing KPIs

Likes/Followers

A line chart showing the increase of Facebook page followers.

What It Is

Likes and/or followers on a social media channel are the number of people who are following your page.

What It Means

Depending on the social media platform you’re tracking, likes and/or followers are an indication of how many people are using your channels. 

How to Analyze It

When looking at your follower count, you can analyze several things. Ask yourself questions like, “is it worth continuing to push our social media if we’re not seeing any engagement?,” “should I run a campaign to boost my followers?”, and “should I hire someone to optimize my campaign if I see value in it?” 

It’s important to think of your social media channels as another website for your business with the goal of being a 24/7 sales tool.

Top Posts

What It Is

Top posts on your social media channels are your top-performing posts during a given period of time.

What It Means

Looking at top posts helps you determine exactly what type of content is working for you. You should consider factors like the subject, content type (images, videos, and links), the time you posted, etc. 

How to Analyze It

When looking at top posts, you should be able to draw several conclusions and make decisions accordingly. If you see that all of your top posts in a given month were videos, you should probably invest more spend into videos.

How Metrics Can Be Used (and Misused)

Data-based decision-making is often at the core of digital marketing and what makes digital marketing so special. You can pinpoint where every cent you spend goes and whether it’s effective.

If you compare a traditional marketing campaign to a digital marketing one promoting the same product, there’s often ambiguity with the former. Do you know how many people saw your billboard on the side of the highway? You may have an estimate, but with digital marketing, you can measure exactly how many people saw it.  

Metrics Are Often Misused

While there’s often an emphasis on metric-based decisions, it’s important to remember that, in the end, they’re just numbers and percentages. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but you may be misusing your metrics. 

Let’s look at an example from two different points of view: Person A and Person B. 

Let’s say you are running a Google Ads campaign that’s spending $5,000 a month to drive traffic to a particular product. Your click-through rate and impressions are higher than normal, but your conversions are zero.

Person A stops the campaign completely because they spent all of that money and didn’t get a single sale.

Person B looks at the same campaign and sees an issue. The ads are working, but something on the actual product page may be broken. They determine that there’s no purchase button on the page, which led to zero conversions. 

This is a simple example of how metrics can be used or misinterpreted. Both people were looking at the same metric, but one saw it as an issue, while the other saw it as a signal that something else was wrong. 

Collecting and analyzing your digital marketing performance metrics is only valuable if you take the time to consider what they mean to your original investment. 

Common Ways That Metrics Are Misused

  • Collecting the wrong information. If you collect the wrong information, how can you make smart decisions based on that data? You can imagine the trickle-down effect this might have. 
  • Looking at vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are important, but they’re not necessarily the best figures to use when making decisions. Impressions are a great example of this. You may have a ton of impressions, but if they aren’t achieving the goals you’ve set, does it really matter? This is why looking at the bigger picture is so important. 
  • Never changing metrics. Business goals change all the time, and so should your metrics. How can you determine ROI if you’re measuring the wrong things? 
  • Having too many metrics. There are thousands of metrics you can collect and analyze, so picking the most important ones for your business may be difficult. Choosing the wrong metrics can lead you down the wrong path. 

Tips for Explaining Reports To Other Stakeholders

You’ve learned the various digital marketing performance metrics that make up each channel. Now, it’s time to learn how to explain your reports. Here are four tips to keep in mind when explaining your digital marketing reports to other people:

  1. Explain each metric in the simplest terms possible. The key to explaining your marketing report to anyone is to explain it in Layman’s terms. The best way to explain your ROI is to put it simply. Let’s say you spent $2,000 on a PPC campaign that earned 10 goal conversions on a product that costs $500. You may know this, but if you explain what this means to a five-year-old, you would say, “We spent $2,000 and got 10 people interested in our $500 product, meaning we potentially have $5,000 in sales. This means we’ve potentially made $3,000 on this campaign.”
  2. Avoid vanity metrics and focus primarily on data involving investments. The truth is that not every digital marketing performance metric carries the same weight. Does a social media follower increase mean more than the average CPC on your social media campaign? Probably not. At Tower, we only include the most important metrics that our clients care about, but not every agency will do this. You’ll see every single metric available, even though you may only need to pay attention to dollar amounts. We encourage you to sit down with your agency and figure out which metrics mean the most to you.
  1.  If you have older reports to draw on, compare the numbers. If you happen to keep all of your old reports, reference them. If you don’t have them, ask your agency to pull the numbers again. How can you know what’s working and what isn’t if you don’t compare last month’s reports to the previous month or the previous year? This is one of the best ways to explain whether your investment is or isn’t working.
  2. Look at everything together. This is ultimately what each report is for. While every digital marketing channel looks different, they’re all smaller pieces that make up the greater part of your business. Don’t just take one part of your report and look at it as a positive if there are negative aspects, too. Seeing the bigger picture is the best way to gauge the success of your digital marketing efforts.  

What’s Next?

Now that you’re an expert – or at least better informed – regarding your digital marketing report, you should be able to analyze your return on your digital marketing investment. 

Need help digging further into your digital marketing reporting? We do all the analysis for you so you can focus on what matters most. Work with our Internet marketing specialists to ensure you’re getting the most out of your online efforts.

If you haven’t checked out our blog on the biggest Google SERP (search engine results page) changes, you’ve missed out on a visual timeline representing the changes on Google’s search results page since it’s introduction in 1998 — and it has changed a lot!

Twenty years later, there are many instances in which a user doesn’t even need to click off the results page to find the information they need. That’s great for the user, but not so great for companies trying to drive traffic to their websites. Companies who have reached the coveted #1 organic rank in a Google search might now find that they are listed a third of the way down the page, buried under a slew of prioritized Google SERP features or other types of rich results.

Here are a few of the Google features that have become staples of the SERPs, along with tips on using these rich results to get noticed by an online audience.

screen shot of Google search feature - Paid Ads

Google Ads may not seem too unfamiliar to web users.  Typically, companies that are running Google PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns will have their ads featured at the very top of a Google search page.

Give Your Ads The Best Chance of Being Seen:

Paid advertising campaigns can be beneficial by gaining web traffic in support of a newly launched website, your business’s peak seasons, or a big sale or major event.  A paid advertising campaign can also give you insights into the keywords for which your website is being found.  These insights go beyond what you can find through Google’s standard reporting,

Follow these tips for better paid advertising placement:

  • Your keyword quality score should be at least a 3 out of 10. Low-quality ad scores usually result in low click-through rates. For a higher score, avoid keywords that are too generic, use long-tail keywords, and make sure your keywords mirror your ads and landing page.
  • Watch the character counts in your ads. Your title should be no more 30 characters and your description include a maximum of 80 characters. Going beyond the suggested character count can result in key information being cut off in your ads.
  • Include additional site links in your ad copy to increase the click-through rate on your ads, which Google favors in ad placement.
  • Add call-out extensions. For example, Sale Ends on Monday, 15% Discount on Kids Shoes, etc.

Local Listings

screenshot of Google SERP Features - local listing and knowledge graph

The next SERP feature that you may notice is local listings which include the local pack and local listing knowledge graph. These are especially helpful to users with the rise of “near me” searches; for example “find cheeseburgers near me.”

The local pack includes a local map based on a user’s location with two or more nearby options for what they need. This gives users everything they need at a quick glance, including the address, hours, and the company’s Google review rating.

The knowledge graph, which is typically located in the right column of the results page, is a large component in many search results. It also offers the most requested information about your company’s physical location at a quick glance (address, hours, phone number, map). Links to your website and directions to your location are also included.

Make Sure Your Business Shows in Local Listings:

For your business to show up in local searches, one of the very best tools to utilize is MozLocal. With a MozLocal account, you can use the most important online business directories and review sites to find any inaccuracies or duplicate listings. These issues can arise due to mix-ups with user-generated check-ins or multiple employees attempting to set up your business in the same directory.

In addition, you’ll want to claim your Google My Business listing and optimize your listing with the most up-to-date information on your business including service area, hours, phone number, website URL, images, and videos.

A My Business listing is will most likely show up in the SERPS during branded searches (the user searches specifically for your brand name). You can increase your opportunities for being found in non-branded searches by adding category tags to your My Business Listings. For example, restaurant, fast food restaurant, or hamburger restaurant.

Additionally, you can use these tips to help your site land among the local listings by:

  • Creating content on key web pages (homepage, about us page, and other popular landing pages) that ties into your location.
  • Responding to Google Reviews for your business (the good and the bad) with sincere and unique responses.  Not only does this show customers that you respect their feedback, but Google also takes this into account and can tell when you’re repeating the same canned responses.
  • Reviewing the suggested edits that users can submit to your MyBusiness listing based on their experiences. You have the ability to accept or deny these user updates.

Want to learn more about local listings? Read more about local SEO directories in our guide which includes the top free and paid listings to put your business on.

Featured Snippets

screen shot of Google SERP Feature - Featured Snippet

Here’s where things start to get tricky when your goal is increasing web traffic. With the introduction of Google’s featured snippets, users don’t need to click-thru to your site to find the answers you’re providing. Much of it is being displayed right on the Google search page. It’s why this feature is also called the “answer box.” Not only that but if the original answer that Google provides doesn’t suit a user’s needs, it offers multiple other questions and answers that a user can also read right on the search page.

Although featured snippets provide quick results that may negatively impact click-through rates, SEO experts see it as a positive feature. Snippets can improve overall site rankings and help a website acquire more SERP real estate. For example, if your organic results rank is position 8, but your information is presented as a featured snippet, you can outrank competitors and improve click-through.

Make Your Website a Featured Snippet:

The chance to be spotlighted in a featured snippet is dependent on the content you publish on your site. Content that is presented in a question and answer format is often displayed as part of a snippet. But don’t overdo it, you’re not going to fool Google!

Additional content best practices to follow include:

  • Formatting that includes subheadings and bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Optimizing your content, images, and metadata for important keywords.
  • Using variances of your keywords.

Finally, adding schema to your pages that highlights the main question and answer can make it easier for Google to zero-in on your page as a source of information that users are searching for.

Other Google SERP Features to Know

These additional features also help your website claim more real estate throughout the SERPs.

Site Links — Google site links are a deluxe listing format that presents the main search result, followed by two or more indented site link results.

Image Pack — Optimizing your images with keyword-driven alt text will give you a better chance of appearing in Google Images, which are often highlighted on a search results page.

screenshot of Google SERPS Feature - Google Images

Videos — To entice user click through, Google will add a video thumbnail to the top YouTube results for a particular search.

screenshot Google SERP Features - videos

Shopping Carousel — Google’s shopping feature takes a standard text-ad PPC campaign and enhances it by including additional snippets of information (image, price, ratings, etc) from the product page.

What to learn more about getting found in the Google SERPS? Visit our SEO services page to see how we can help your business get found!

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