Prepare Yourself for the Future of Audience Based Advertising

Brad will be featured at Hero Conf Austin for his April 16 keynote presentation, “Personalized Marketing in an Audience Centric World”. Register to see him live!

Imagine you’re sitting in your house or apartment relaxing after a hard day at work. You look around and the place is a mess. You don’t have the energy to clean it; so you do what everyone else does – you pick up your phone and search for a maid service to come to your place and clean it up for you.

Once you conduct your search; these two ads sit atop the search results, which do you pick?

Audience based ads

Odds are, you have now told us a key component of your demographics.  It’s not 100% foolproof by any means; but this was a simple test run by a cleaning company.

CTR by age and gender

In aggregate, we get this information:

  • Women like the ‘not servants’ more than men at all ages, yet at older demographics, the word ‘maid’ is more likely to be used and clicked on.
  • At younger ages, men are more likely than women to click on the ‘not servants’ ad.
  • There’s a clean delineation around age 45 of a ‘switch’ in CTRs by ad

Note: the ad made no difference in conversion rates; only volume of clicks.

Without out getting into the politically correct discussion or millennial praising and/or bashing; just by being marketers who live by stats; there are some clear trends here that we should be using in our marketing efforts – and that’s audience targeting.

What is Audience Targeting?

At its core, audience targeting is just serving an ad to a group of like people based upon website behavior or individual characteristics.

When you look at most accounts and ask them if they are using audience targeting; the answer is almost always, “yes”.

If you ask them what they are doing; it’s almost always remarketing. Some are doing RLSA. Even less are using in-market or similar lists. Very few are using demographics. If they are using demographics, it’s almost always to adjust the bids or exclude a group from seeing their ads.

Most accounts are barely scratching the surface of what’s possible in audience targeting. This isn’t always the advertiser’s fault as Google does not make it easy to adjust ad text by demographics or other audience targeting options.

You can use the ‘if/default’ ads to change your ad for a single audience (but it’s an audience you defined, not age or gender); and there’s no way to scale these changes…yet.

We Live in the Age of the Consumer

Recently, Google changed who can show YouTube ads in response to advertisers pulling their budgets from YouTube. Much of the advertisers’ reaction of pulling budgets was in direct response to consumers bashing advertisers for supporting extremist content.

Google has expanded the ‘mute this ad’ program and made it easier to manage ad preferences. One of the biggest issues was consumers seeing the same remarketing ads over and over, especially after they had purchased a product.

These are good changes by Google for the entire ecosystem. However, it shows consumers pay attention to ads. As marketers, we sometimes live too close to data and not close enough to consumer behavior. Consumers are actually reading your ads, thinking about the site you are on, and paying attention to marketing.

The Future of Audiences

The future of audience targeting lies in our ability to not just customize the targeting and bidding by audiences; but also the message.

Remember, the message – the ads – are the only part of your account the consumer sees and interacts with. They don’t care about your bids, your targeting, your organizational structure – they only see and care about the message that’s delivered to them.

As marketers, our goal is to identify our market and then create advertisements and marketing messages that speak to our market in order to influence their decision making process.

The more granular you can segment your audience, the better you can create ads that influence that audience segment.

Audience targeting is still in its infancy; however, we can take advantage of so many options right now. Do you know what messages your audience wants to see? Have you segmented your audience by job, salary, age, gender, behavior, lifestyle, purchasing power, business type, repeat buying behavior, geography, or a combination of several of these options?

That’s the future of audience targeting. Segmenting audiences and then tailoring your message to that audience member.

It’s the Time of Audience Experimentation

Right now is the time to experiment with messages by audience type. It can be difficult at times as the tools are still being developed; but as each year rolls by, marketers get better and more powerful audience targeting features.

By experimenting now with how different segments interact with your ads, you will be able to scale your marketing with the new features as they roll out.

As it’s so difficult right now to scale, those who are doing the work have a definite competitive advantage.

After all, maids is a word derived from maidservant – one who will clean and serve you. Housekeepers are ones who cook and clean. House cleaners are ones who only clean your house. In the Victorian Era, in a truly grand house, all these roles reported to a Steward, someone who needed the organizational, financial, and communication skills to manage an entire estate.

Today, that’s your job, one who needs to organize accounts, bid properly, and communicate with consumers and clients. The best way to communicate with consumers is to identify them, understand them, and speak to them in their language with audience targeting features.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re looking for new audience ideas, possibilities, or just want to learn about the options and see some test results, join me and your fellow PPC marketers for Hero Conf where I’ll be keynoting about all the current and future state of audience targeting.



Display Advertising for Lead Generation: One Approach

“We’ve tried Display before and it cost a lot of money and didn’t work.” Have you ever heard this from your client when pitching Display? When I hear this, I get bubbly all-over with excitement before extrapolating on the advanced targeting features Google offers for advertising on the Display Network. We know that Google has to up its audience targeting game to stay relevant in a world where social spend is continuing to grow. Hanapin’s own State of Paid Social forecasts that in 2018, advertisers are planning to make significant increases to their budgets in Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIN:

Display advertising can be an effective first touch and a way to increase brand awareness, grow top of funnel conversions, and lead to sales down the line.  

Display Advertising Tactics: The layered targeting approach

My greatest success from the Display Network has involved this exact layered audience compilation:

Custom Affinity + In-Market + Contextual Keywords

If you’ve never tested custom affinity audiences in Google, they are a cut above affinity audiences. You create them under the Display Network tab in Google under Interests and Remarketing:

They work by combining URLs your target audience is likely to visit with interests. Let’s say for example, you’re a banana merchant, your custom audience could look like this:

You must enter at least 5 URLs plus free-form interests to create a custom affinity audience. To be clear, the URLs you enter are not where your ad will appear. Rather, it’s greasing the skids of Google’s algorithm to help it better understand your target audience and to inform where ads should appear.

In-Market Audiences

Google lists 508 In-Market audiences. These are pre-defined lists Google has created of users who have shown signals of intent to purchase or convert within a particular vertical. They are by definition, lower in the funnel.

Given the vast number of audiences, your vertical is likely to be represented. Each of these Categories has sub-lists as well to explore.


This one is a no-brainer, always layer in relevant contextual keywords to further refine your Display targeting. This method uses keywords to match your ads to relevant sites.


I tested this layered targeting approach for a larger-spend lead-gen client. Here were the YoY Q4 Results:

The results were astounding, while we did more than double the spend, we got more than 3X the leads for nearly half the CPL.

In addition, we saw branded traffic and lead volume rise after launching these display campaigns showing the impact Display can have on brand awareness. We also saw an increase in direct to site traffic. When selling the value of Display, it’s really important to emphasize how display can positively affect other channels.

Tips To Make This Method Work For Your Lead Gen Display Campaigns:

  1. Do your research for Custom Affinity: really dig into the target audience and find out the resources they use online, common urls they may have to use for work, or anything that can get you closer to where you might be able to find them on the Display Network.
  2. Get Creative: try many different types of custom affinity audiences. Test different URL and Interest combinations. The possibilities here are truly endless.
  3. Always set relevant Placement Exclusions and site category exclusions.
  4. Set Frequency Caps so as not to bombard your audience
  5. Use Responsive Ads and make sure they have a relevant CTA Button:

There are a few other Display Network Targeting features to appreciate:

Smart Display – For the uninitiated Display advertiser, this is a highly-automated method using machine learning to automatically set bids, targeting and creatives. Learn more about it from the Guide To Adwords Smart Display Campaigns.

Life Event Targeting – For Gmail and Video ads: you can target audiences based their College, Marital, and Moving status. For More about this, see Life Event Targeting Now Available To All Adwords Advertisers blog post.

Closing Thoughts

Google will have to develop new ways to compete with the audience targeting available on Social Channels and my suspicion is that they will continue to deliver tools to marketers that will help refine audience targeting on the Display Network. While the Display Network can feel like the wild wild west for some advertisers, there are tactics to create hyper relevant messaging directed to audiences that are more refined than traditional display targeting methods.


Stop Making These Common Mistakes with Your Website Popups (Includes Examples and Quick Fixes)

Depending on who you talk to, website popups are either a godsend for list building and subsequent revenue creation, or they’re a nuclear bomb for the user experience.

Some can’t stand popups and completely disregard sites that use them (or that’s what they say, at least). And there are even entire websites dedicated to hating on especially bad popups.

However, many marketers are fully charmed to their capabilities for revenue generation, lead collection, and driving attention and conversions in general.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation, though.

You can create website popups that aren’t detrimental to the user experience; In fact, if you do it really well, you can even improve the user experience with the right offer and presentation.

We all want to be companies that care a lot about our visitors and make the best popups possible, so it goes without saying, we care about timing, targeting, and triggering (i.e. who we send offers to, when we send them, and what those offers are). After all, the main reasons visitors get annoyed by popups are 1) when they disrupt the user experience and 2) when they offer no value or help:

Fortunately, you can easily solve for these things. In this article I’ll outline common website popup mistakes with real examples, and I’ll cover a few ways to remedy these mistakes.

Mistake 1: Poor timing

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make with website popups is with timing. It’s almost always the case that we trigger popups too soon (i.e. right away, no matter the context of the page or visitor).

On an discussion, Dustin J. Verburg had this to say:

“The most hilarious popups are the ones that say ‘LOVE THIS CONTENT? SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE’ because they assault my eyes before I even read two words of the article.

Now I guess I’ll never know if I love the content, because I close the tab immediately and never come back.”

Similar to Dustin, imagine you’re taking break from work to check out GrowthHackers. You find an article on the front page that looks interesting. You open it and immediately get this:

Woah, what’s this full screen takeover? I know this is common today, but most people are jarred by this experience.

Now you may not even remember what the article was, so you’re likely to click away and go back to actual work.

One possible way to remedy this – just spitballing here – could be to add some copy explaining that the visitor needs to click to continue on to the article. Forbes does this (though Forbes could never claim a good user experience without a good laugh):

At least you know where you’re at (the logo is prominent) and what to do (continue to site). But, it goes without saying, Forbes’ experience is not ideal so don’t copy it.

So how do you fix poor timing?

The best possible solution for user experience is to trigger a popup at a time that actually benefits a visitor. On a long-form blog article, this is usually at some point of strong user engagement, either measured by time on site or, better, by scroll-depth and content engagement.

You can do this with an on-scroll popup created in Unbounce.

Once you’re happy with your design, simply set your trigger for when someone scrolls through a certain percentage of the page, or even after a delay you specify:

Click above for a larger, clearer image.

Overall, poor timing is a common problem, and it’s almost never intentional. We simply act hastily when setting up popups, or we spend all of our time crafting the offer and forget that when the offer is shown matters too.

I want to point out, however, that it’s not always a bad decision to throw a popup at visitors on arrival. It’s all about context.

For example, if you’re shopping for clothes, there are a million options available. Therefore, it’s imperative for ecommerce shops to grab your attention as quickly as possible with an attractive offer. This is why you see so many website popups with discounts on arrival on ecommerce sites, like this one from Candle Delirium:

As well as this one from BustedTees:

It’s a very common tactic. We’ll go over it specifically in regard to ecommerce later in section three.

In general, it’s important to analyze a visitor’s behavior and trigger the popup at the exact moment (or as close to it as possible) that someone would want to subscribe/download your offer/etc. It’s a lot of work to tease out when this may be, but the analysis is worth it as you’ll annoy fewer visitors and convert more subscribers or leads.

Fix annoying timing: Consider the user experience. Does it warrant an on-arrival popup? If not, what’s the absolute ideal timing for a popup, based on user intent, behavior, and offer?

Mistake 2: Poor targeting

Poor targeting is a broad problem that’s usually made up of a mismatch between who you’re targeting and what offer you’re sending (though, you could also add in when you’re targeting them as a variable as well).

For instance, if you’re targeting a first time organic visitor to a blog post with a popup that announces a new product feature, you may spur some confusion. Rather, you should try to target based on appropriate user attributes, as well as within the context of where they are in the user journey. A better offer for a first time blog visitor might be an ebook or email course on a topic related to the blog post.

An example of poor targeting is LawnStarter’s guide on their post about where new residents of Birmingham are moving from. It’s a cool infographic-based guide they’re offering up, but the popup is really irrelevant to the content of the post someone’s currently reading in this case:

In another, better example, Mailshake has a massive guide on cold emailing, which would be a daunting read in a single session. It’s probably appropriate, then, that they offer the book up for download via a sticky bar at the bottom of a related article:

There are ways they could improve copy, design, or the offer itself, but the core point is that their targeting is spot on (i.e. after someone’s reading something about cold emailing, and offered up as added, downloadable value).

Now, if I already visited this page and downloaded the playbook, and they still hit me with this offer, then we’d have a targeting problem. They could use the fact that I’m a repeat visitor, as well as a subscriber already, to target me with a warmer offer, such as a deeper email course, a webinar, or possibly even a consultation/demo depending on their sales cycle and buyer’s journey.

The fix for poor targeting

Remember with targeting, you’re simply trying to align your offer with your visitor and where they are in their awareness and interest of your company and product.

This is where the value of progressive profiling comes in. But if you’re not doing that, at the very least you should be aligning the offers on your page with the intent of the traffic on that page.

You can also target offers based on URLs, location, referral source, and cookies. Really think about who is receiving your offer and at what point in the customer journey before you set a popup live.

With popups created in Unbounce, for example, you can use referral source as a way to target appropriate offers to someone who’s come from social traffic, vs. someone who’s arrived via AdWords traffic:

Simply create your popup, and in advanced targeting, select which referral sources you’d like to have access to the offer:

Fix targeting the wrong people at the wrong time with the wrong offer Analyze your customer journey and intent levels on content. Craft offers according to customer journey status as well as on-site user behavior.

Mistake 3: Offers with no obvious value

How many times have you been on a blog that simply wants you to sign up for a mailing list, no value promised or given? Like this:

If you’re an active reader of the blog, maybe this works. After all, you already know the value of the content and simply want to sign up for updates. Makes sense. But I’d wager this type of active reader is a small percentage of traffic, and these people will sign up however they can. Thereby the popup isn’t useful for everyone else.

As we covered before, a much better way to capture attention is with a discount, like Allen Edmonds offers here as soon as I land on the site (on another note, this is a great use of an immediate triggering. It’s not an annoying popup when it delivers me a discount).

This is a super common ecommerce tactic.

It’s a competitive world out there, and giving an immediate hit in the form of a discount is a good way to capture some of that oh so valuable attention. It’s especially common when used on first time visitors to the homepage, as a homepage visitor’s experience is generally more variable and less intent-based (if they land on a product page from a search ad, it’s a bit of a different story).

Here’s an example from Levi’s:

The fact that most ecommerce sites have similar messages nowadays is indicative of a creativity problem, one that presents itself to marketers in any industry. We look to competitors and to the consensus and think that we can’t fall behind, so we replicate tactics.

However, I’m more interested in sites, like Four Sigmatic, that push beyond and implement a creative offer, like their lottery style subscription featured below. (This is one of the only popups I’ve signed up for in months, by the way):

Offering up poor or no value is really the least forgivable mistake if you’re a marketer. Crafting offers that align to your buyer persona is your job. Also, it’s fun. If you have a bland offer, this could easily be the biggest opportunity for lifting conversions, as well as improving the user experience (no one is complaining about awesome offers).

Foot Cardigan does a really good job of offering value and conveying it in a fun way too:

Triggering popups with zero value? Think about ways you can give massive value to your site visitors, so much that they really want to give you their email, and create an offer for this.

Mistake 4: Poor design

If you use Unbounce Popups, it’s almost hard to create an ugly one. Still though, the internet is filled with eye-sore examples:

Design matters. A poorly designed website element can throw off your whole brand perception, which is important in creating trust, value, and in easing friction.

As Ott Niggulis put it in a ConversionXL article:

“Success in business online is all down to trust. You either see something that makes you trust a vendor or you don’t. Trust is also directly linked to conversions – if people leave your website because it’s so badly designed that it makes you seem untrustworthy then you’re missing out on lost prospects, customers, sales, and profits.

Good design = trust = more conversions = more money in your pocket. It’s as easy as that.”

That same article cites a study where 15 participants were directed to Google health information that was relevant to them, then they were asked about their first impressions of the sites.

Out of all the factors mentioned for distrusting a website, 94% were design related. Crazy!

So don’t just put up a poorly designed popup thinking the message will be the focus. Put some effort into it.

Of course, you don’t always need to look like a luxury brand. If cheap spartan is your schtick, then it can work for you. After all, Paul Graham’s site isn’t pretty but it’s so, so valuable:

Image of Paul Graham’s site.

As Aurora Bedford from NN/g explains it, it’s more about matching design to your brand values and objectives:

“The most important thing to remember is that the initial perception of the site must actually match the business — not every website needs to strive to create a perception of luxury and sophistication, as what is valuable to one user may be at complete odds with another.”

No matter what your brand positioning may be, however, make sure you clean up obvious design mistakes before hitting publish.

Fix up bad design: Spend a few hours longer designing your popup, hire a designer, or use a tool like Unbounce with a template.

Mistake 5: Poor Copy

Presenting your offers with clear copy is huge. Most copywriting, not just on popups but online in general, is:

  • Boring
  • Vague
  • Confusing
  • Cringe-inducing

…in that order, I’d wager. Not often do you find crisp, clear, and compelling copy (unless it was whipped up by a professional, of course).

As with the example below, you’re more likely to find copy that’s vague (how many ebooks, which ones, etc.) and cringe-inducing (Rocking with a capital R is pretty goofy):

The copy you write for your popup may be the most effective mechanism you have for converting visitors (outside of the targeting rules). Here’s how Talia Wolf, founder of GetUplift, put it in an comment:

“Many people are trying to capture your customer’s attention too so you need to give them a good reason for subscribing/not leaving.

It’s not enough to talk about yourself, you need to address the customer’s needs: one way is by highlighting the value your customer gains. The other, highlighting what they might lose. (Example: “Join thousands of happy customers” vs. “Don’t lose this unique content we’re giving our subscribers only”

Her website has a solid example of a popup with great copywriting, by the way:

Sometimes, all you need to do is pull your message to the top and make it prominent. Often we try to write clever copy instead of clear copy, but clear always beats clever.

For example, if the following popup led with the money offered for the account, it’d probably be more compelling than their current vague headline:

Mistake 6: Overload

Sometimes websites can get pretty aggressive. Here’s an experience I ran into on Brooks Brothers’ website:

One (pretty value-less) popup that I click out of, only to be followed by another one:

Now, there’s just a lot of clutter going on here. Different colors, different offers, different banners. As a first time visitor, I’m not sure what’s going on. Plus, they have animated snowfall, which adds to the clutter.

This is quite extreme, but it’s not uncommon for marketers to see some results with a popup and go overboard, triggering two, three, even four in a single session. When all of this occurs within 10 seconds of being on the site, things get annoying quickly.

Take down too many popups: Simplify and strategically target any popups on your site. They shouldn’t appear everywhere for everyone, your targeting is key.

The lesson

Popups don’t need to be annoying. Rather, they can actually add to the user experience if you put a little time and effort into analysis and creative targeting and triggering.

If you avoid the mistakes here, not only will your popups be less likely to feel intrusive, but they’ll convert better and they’ll convert the types of subscribers and leads you actually want.

Run a popup experiment of your own See Unbounce templates you can get up and running today.


How to Analyze Your Competition & Pivot Your PPC Strategy




If you’re just hearing about it, The PPC Hero Summit is a free online event offering top-notch PPC training and valuable discussions on trends and updates.

So far, we’ve talked about what the first few sessions will offer, so today we’ll talk about the last 2 sessions that will wrap-up the Summit.

A Step Ahead: Analyzing Your Competition (1pm-1:30pm)

Take a deep dive into the tools, tactics and updates you need to effectively analyze your competitors with our Senior Analysts, Jacob Brown and Rachael Law. They’ll take you through how to figure out who your main competition is, what you should focus on, and why it matters.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Auction Insights – How to build a template to better analyze and report on Auction Insights data
  • Ad Matrix – How to compare your ad copy and extensions to your competitors
  • Competitor Insight Tools – Quick overview of some platforms and what to takeaway from them
  • Industry Updates – Why you should stay updated with PPC and other industry trends and how to do it

When & How to Pivot Your PPC Strategy (1:30am-2pm)

With Associate Director of Services, Carrie Albright, and Sr. Analyst Jacob Fairclough, learn what steps you can take when your current PPC efforts are tapped or proving ineffective. They’ll discuss the different reasons for when you need to pivot your advertising and give you valuable tactics on how to approach each situation.

Here’s what they’ll talk about for WHEN you should pivot and HOW to do it:

  • The Competitive Landscape changes – you have new competitors or old competitors are getting more aggressive
  • Policy/Targeting option changes – you lose access to your audience or you have messaging limits
  • YOU are changing – new product or service or drastically difference service offering
  • You took a risk and it didn’t work
  • Your account has slowly stopped performing

The PPC Hero Summit is Wednesday, February 28th from 11am – 2pm EST and features the blog writers from PPC Hero that live, breath, and love PPC.

Even you if you can’t make it – sign up anyway! We’ll send all registrants the recordings and slides once the Summit is over.




5 Values to Look for in Your Next Technology Partner

Every year, there are more technology solutions asking for your consideration. Choosing your next vendor not only takes time, it also makes you continually redefine what you are going to value in this new partnership. Sticking to these values as your foundation will help you quickly thin the herd. But when it comes to choosing a technology partner, what matters and what doesn’t?

In this blog, I’ll show you five values to look for in your next technology partner to fuel growth. 

Ask Yourself, What Sort of Investment Am I Trying to Make?

Understanding the differences between long-term and short-term motives behind your decision-making process will help you determine what differentiation matters for your unique needs. For example, if you want to invest in technology you won’t have to rip and replace or re-evaluate in 12-18 months, then you are thinking long term. In this scenario, you want to make sure scalability is a primary focus. Which technology and which vendor will grow with me? Which can I grow into and get the most out over the course of my journey? Which ones will I grow past or run into walls with? Worry less about investing in something that requires a bit of learning, and more about outgrowing your investment and being stuck with less. Also, make sure to not only evaluate the technology but the vendor itself. This will help you make a more complete investment decision beyond capabilities and checkboxes.

What Does it Mean to Be a Customer?

You should feel pride and identify with the brand qualities of the technology you purchase. This investment needs to complement what you believe in, and the vendor should also feel the same about you and your choice. This is either a healthy partnership, or it’s not. You know how you feel as soon as you consider putting pen to paper, be honest with yourself. You are not just choosing technology, you are choosing people and a network of other customers. Find out how they treat their customers. Do they have fantastic events for you to take advantage of? Do they have a community of other customers that you can belong to and learn from? Do their customers stick around? How will making this investment impact your career over time? These are the things to think about when defining how you value being a customer.

Have Their Customers Achieved What You Want to Achieve?

To have a fulfilling customer experience, you must have a clear path to success. Learning from others and seeing their momentum is the best way to feel assurance in your investment. After all, before purchase it can all feel very abstract. It’s clearer when the road to success is already presented to you, by customers willing to talk and by a team dedicated to supporting your growth after you buy. Along those lines, don’t be afraid to get right into the depth of use cases and workflows. This is just around the corner when you begin to implement, so it’s beneficial to explore how a solution can be used like you have already signed the deal. Putting your potential partner through the paces is the best way to find out what their customer experience looks like, ahead of making any considerable investment.

Do They Understand Your Business and Speak Your Language?

This is relatively intuitive but often goes untested, causing challenges down the line. Building off of our third value, do not be afraid of digging in to validate that a solution can support your unique use cases. This will determine which companies not only want your business, but also provide clear evidence that they understand your business, and how to partner in your success. Red flags are easy to spot. If the points are not clear and the value isn’t fine-tuned with a short path to execution, then you have one fewer vendor to consider because they don’t really get you. However, be mindful that you’re offering up the opportunity for everyone to know you in the first place. Have you provided clear guidelines on your goals? Are you transparent about your needs? No one can demonstrate they understand you without your thorough involvement in that mutual discovery phase. If you want openness from your partner, be open with them too.

How Do They Invest Their Revenue?

Investment track record is a telltale sign of where your potential partner may be headed. Back to our first value, make sure you and your partner have similar goals when it comes to innovation and growth. Perhaps the revenue is invested in growing the team. Great! Wait, which team? Are we talking about more salespeople, more engineers, and support, or more customer success? Do your own investigating to validate what you’re told. Here’s a golden nugget: go on Glassdoor and on to the company’s career page. The reviews will tell you where they need help improving, the careers page will tell you if they are trying to attend to those matters based on the positions they are filling. Bottom line here is that you want to understand your partner’s goals and the most telling way to see them clearly is by seeing where and how money is being spent.

When it comes to choosing a technology partner, it’s important to ask yourself these questions. Consider your motivations and goals for your own business. Are you considering adding any additional technology partners in 2018? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.

The post 5 Values to Look for in Your Next Technology Partner appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


Why You Should Rethink Your Bing PPC Strategy

Okay, so we all know that Google continues to have the highest volume of searchers compared to Bing and Yahoo. In the last comScore Search Engine Share release, Google has 63.8% of the search engines share. Bing has 21.3% and Yahoo has 12.4% of the remaining search market share. In 2017, when the next market share report is released we can expect a few shifts, but we do not expect major changes. For years, Bing seems to always be an afterthought when it comes to advertising, but it may be time to rethink your Bing PPC strategy.

One thing to consider is that Bing ads also show on the Yahoo Gemini Network giving Bing a 33.7% combined reach. Additionally, most searchers do not switch search engines, so the searchers you reach through Bing/Yahoo are unique from the audience on Google. So, if you are advertising on both engines you have the opportunity to reach the greatest number of unique searchers.

Bing Revenue-per-Visit (RPVs) are Higher

Account Example 1

In 2017, in one account the total spend in Bing made up 12% of the total ad spend for the year. The resulting ROAS were significantly higher in Bing at 487% compared to Google at 334%. Before 2017, this client’s primary focus was on Google, and since our campaigns were often limited by budget this meant Bing was always on the back-burner.

Additionally, in the Analytics for the same account in 2017, we can see that the revenue-per-session (RPV) are significantly higher in Bing and Yahoo. So, considering this, why is Bing/Yahoo such an afterthought?  Should the conversation shift to maximizing spend and profit on Bing and then spend the remaining budget in the other engines?

Account Example 2

In 2017 for another e-commerce account example, we see the RPVs are higher and the average order value is greater compared to Google. Also, the average order value is higher at $489 for Bing PPC compared to $392 for Google PPC.

Account Example 3

In this next account example, they are similar to the vehicle parts website above, but they are a completely different account. Their RPVs in Bing PPC were nearly double over what we see in Google. Although Google PPC sessions are significantly higher, they are not converting at the same rate as Bing PPC. Are you convinced yet?

Example Client Bing PPC Journey

In one client example, we spent very little in 2016 compared to 2017. In fact prior to July 2017, most of the budget was spent on running the Brand campaign because the consensus is that “We know we need to be there.” Starting in May of 2017, we began increasing our spend for Non-Brand in Bing.

Suddenly, we began seeing more revenue coming in each month, but the data showed that 90% of the revenue was being attributed to our Brand campaigns. However, our spend on the Brand campaigns was not higher, in fact, due to optimizations it was 39% lower than 2016. The issue was only 10% of the revenue was getting attributed to our Non-Brand campaigns. So our theory was advertising Non-Brand on Bing was working and this certainly makes a strong case for Non-Brand attributing to Brand revenue.

Another thing we could see was more phone calls coming in for Bing. Unfortunately, the call tracking was installed in August of 2017, so we didn’t have any additional details prior to that date. However, each month phone calls made up 50 – 80% of the total conversions each month.

Prior to the installation of call tracking, our CPLs were $500-700 in Bing, which was significantly higher than Google. Once we were able to factor in the call conversions, our CPL dropped between $45 – 140, which was actually lower than Google.

So, obviously, Bing is a huge driver for phone call conversions for this client. Also, since we were recording these calls, we were able to listen to the calls to determine if the call quality was good. Plus, the Non-Brand campaigns were driving relevant calls with customers inquiring about their products. One thing to know about this company is their products are big, expensive, and require planning. These products would never be an impulse buy. So maybe Non-Brand customers still had more questions or needed more time and that might explain why more transactions came in under Brand searches.

Also, we noticed that the calls coming in from Bing Paid average duration was nearly 6 minutes. This is significantly higher than the call duration from Google at 4.5 minutes. Another colleague noticed the same thing in one of her accounts and mentioned it in her post Reasons Why Call Tracking Is Important for PPC Campaigns.

So, each month our revenue increased for Bing PPC and had less dramatic swings than in the previous year. The combined Organic and Paid incremental revenue lift was 28% higher in Q3-Q4 in 2017 compared to 2016.

Bing Organic saw a 41% loss in revenue YoY, but Bing PPC received $511,199 in revenue compared to nothing in the prior year. The Bing organic traffic only saw a small 14% loss in sessions.  So even if we factor in PPC taking some of the Organic traffic we still saw a combined 144% lift in revenue. Also, Analytics is not factoring in any revenue resulting from phone calls.

Bing Client Example 2

In another account, we restructured the Brand campaign, launched the Shopping campaign, and increased spending on Non-brand search campaigns. Our spend in Bing was 130% higher in 2017 compared to 2016 and our revenue was 574% higher. The Brand campaign spend was 88% higher and revenue was 823% higher in 2017 compared to the previous year. Non-Brand campaigns spent 143% more and revenue was 286% higher.

Bing Client Example 3

In a similar account, we did some of the same things as we did in the client Example 1 from above. The revenue from Bing PPC was 117% higher in 2017 compared to the previous year. The Brand campaign spend was 100% higher and revenue was 39% higher in 2017 compared to the previous year. Non-Brand campaigns spent 37% more and revenue was 390% higher.

Bing Demographics

In all three account examples above, Bing and Yahoo searchers spend more money per visit to the website. Actually, this makes sense when we consider Bing demographics. Their audience is often older, educated, and their household income is higher.

  • 50% are women / 50% are men
  • 39% of users are married, 33% are single or never married
  • 40% are between age range 35 – 54
  • 30%+ have Associates degrees
  • 17%+ have Masters or Doctoral degrees
  • 35% household income is greater than $100,000

Bing and Windows Computers

Also, according to Net MarketShare, 88% of users are using Windows operating systems compared to only 8% using Mac OS. Why is that important to you when it comes to PPC advertising? Whenever someone purchases a new Windows computer, Bing will automatically be the preset default browser unless the user cares enough to change it to Google.

More ‘Bing’ for your Buck

So, if the examples above showing higher RPV, greater ROAS, and improvement in revenue above didn’t convince you. Let’s look at some other big perks from Bing. In five different accounts, we can see that CPCs are lower for a better average position for Non-Brand Search than in Google.

This may be in part because Bing shows more ads above the fold than Google, Also, since Google killed the right side ads in February 2016, this made the top 2-4 spots highly competitive in Google. So, in Bing, you truly get more for less. You get a higher average ad position for less money and a greater chance for your ad to show above the fold. Here are two examples of searches for comforters in Bing and Google, just look at the difference in ad space.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you some additional reasons for why you should consider putting more time an effort into your Bing PPC. In my experience, the small investment produced significant gains for three different client accounts. In all three cases, the costs were lower and the ROAS were greater for each client. So, my goal in 2018 is to maximize Bing PPC revenue and then put the rest of the money in Google PPC.


What Key Marketing Metrics Matter for Your Website?

Synchronizing your website with digital campaigns offers a holistic view of the effect your marketing efforts have on revenue. We talked about the trifecta of these channels on “How to Measure Digital Marketing Metrics and ROI,” but here we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of website metrics specifically. Now, I love me some numbers, but it’s sometimes a little boring to be talking metrics, am I right? Instead, we’re going to approach your website in a way most people got their start in business: a lemonade stand!

This blog will help guide you through some key marketing metrics for planning and nurturing ROI through your website.

Now let’s squeeze some lemons!

Website Visitors = Thirsty People

SpongeBob Giphy

Audience analysis is arguably the most important task informed by your website metrics. These metrics answer the question: “am I reaching my ideal customer?” A quick glance at age, gender, location, and language can tell you if something is up. You don’t have the resources yet to sell your lemonade to someone a couple of towns over. So, focus your efforts on what you can impact now. It’s important to look at devices and tech and interests. Are the majority of your visitors using their phones to look at your website? Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and quick to load. Are you hitting the right age range but not converting? Look at their interests and check if they align with your services or products. These metrics help confirm if your website visitors reflect the buyer persona you created.

Let’s differentiate visitors to visits with users, sessions, and pageviews. Users are unique visitors that have come to your site, which in itself is made up of new visitors and returning visitors who have come for the second time or more. Sessions are the total number of visits to your site while pageviews are the number of pages visited. Let’s say a neighbor visits your lemonade stand (let’s call the stand “My Main Squeeze”) three times and each time debates between four different menu items. On a website that would result in one returning user, three sessions, and 12 page views. How do you determine an engaged user and session? Take a look at the average session duration and pages/session. If most visitors are spending less than five seconds and not visiting other pages, then it’s likely an accidental click or immediate loss of interest, making your other metrics less impressive. That’s the equivalent of people walking past My Main Squeeze without even looking at you or saying hello back. Rude!

Site Content = Menu Items

You have your visitors, now how are you going to retain them? Let’s talk about site content! If you don’t have content your visitors find valuable, then no one is going to stay. Someone might not want regular lemonade but is interested in trying the brownies, sliced fruit, or spicy mango lemonade. Page metrics show you the most viewed pages and average time spent, along with the least viewed pages. By analyzing the behavior flow report, you’ll be able to see how far down into your website they dig and the interactions they make along the way. Take a look at these metrics: session duration, bounce rate, exit rate, and exit pages. These tell you how much time visitors are spending on your site and at which point the pages turn them away. Look at those failing pages and ascertain a reason as to why they are causing your visitors to bounce. Is this page loading too slowly? Does it lack the content the visitor expected? You can find out by looking at search terms and see precisely what they are looking for. Perhaps the content is on your website but not easily accessible. Find the weak spots in your site, test and fix them to keep your visitors engaged.

Acquisition = Bringing in Customers

How did people find My Main Squeeze? Maybe it’s word of mouth, the sign with directions you posted a couple of blocks away, or your choice of location. Find what is bringing you the most traffic and capitalize on it! You can find the answers under the traffic metrics channels, source/medium, and referrals. Channels show you sessions brought on by social media, search engines, email and more. Source/Medium offer the same insight but specific to website or service. Referrals are as you could have guessed: where your website was referred from. Are you running several paid campaigns across these channels that lead to your website? Dig even further with acquisition metrics like search query, AdWords campaigns, and URL parameters to see which campaigns are driving the most results. By looking at this information, you will be able to determine where to focus your digital marketing spend. You might learn that you get more customers from cute signs you put up over sending your little brother with samples down the block. Put up more signs and tell your brother to stop eating the samples and help out with the new rush your signs brought in!

Conversions = Buying Lemonade

Lemonade Stand Raining Cash

With so many metrics to measure on strengthening your website, how does this all apply to selling more lemonade? With a robust, well-rounded website and digital marketing strategy, you’ll have a better chance of converting visitors into customers. Saving the best for last, be sure to set up different goals—such as subscribing to your newsletter, registering for an event, filling out a contact form, or making a purchase—and attribute value for each conversion, be it a transaction or future lead. These metrics measure the end goal of your website: to generate awareness and revenue. As you continue to work on your website, you will see changes in goal completions. What on your website is producing the most value? Explore the funnel visualization and reverse goal path functions and follow the path to the point of consumption. Where did they start, where did they go and how did they end up converting? If something is working, keep doing it and think about how to make it even better! By selling your customers on the brownies, it assists in the sale of lemonade to wash it down. This can also show you if they stopped short of a goal completion—another way to improve the user experience. Did a potential customer stop short of a lemonade purchase because you didn’t have correct change? Keep more change handy! Make the process as smooth as possible to remove time for doubt.


So, what’s the main takeaway from this blog? Finesse your website to squeeze out as many goal completions and conversions as possible. With some good old-fashioned marketing know-how, My Main Squeeze visitors will have a better chance of flowing through the funnel and sipping lemonade. Take a look at the metrics I’ve shared here and start testing. What other metrics and insights do you have in mind when looking at your website? Share them in the comments below!

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Reframing The Conversation: The Benefits Of Profit-Based PPC Management

As digital marketers, many of us are used to being multilingual when it comes to communicating KPIs to clients. Some clients are interested in efficiency metrics, like ROAS, CPA, or Ad/Cost. Others prefer more growth-oriented metrics, and aim to maximize revenue or leads within a given budget. In the vast majority of cases, though, all these metrics serve as proxies for the metric that nearly all business value most: profit. In today’s blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of reporting on profit, and discuss how a profit-based management approach can unlock growth opportunities in your accounts.

How To Calculate Profit For PPC

Most simply, profit is the measured by summing revenue and subtracting cost. For e-commerce clients, profit can be calculated thusly:

All conversion value x profit margin – (total ppc cost)

So, for example, let’s say I’m running an advertising campaign for Wow! Widgets (a leading producer of widgets in Walla Walla, Washington) and I want to report to them the profit of their PPC campaigns in the aggregate for the month. Across all channels, we produced $10,000 in conversion value, and the client communicated a 30% profit margin to us. The total cost of our ppc campaigns was $600. So, how much profit did our PPC campaigns produce?

$10000 (total revenue) x .3 (profit margin) – $600 (total cost) = $2400 (profit)

Nice! You can also apply this basic formula to lead generation campaigns by factoring in close rate. Let’s say that Wow! Widgets also sells widget consulting services, for which they have a close rate of 25% and charge a flat rate of $5,000. The client let us know that they have a 50% profit margin on their consulting services. Let’s pretend we produced 12 leads against a cost of $2,000 this month. What was the client’s profit?

12 (leads) x $5,000 (revenue per lead) x .25 (close rate) x .5 (profit margin) – $2,000 (total cost) = $5,500 (profit)

Looks like we can report another profitable month for Wow! Widgets. Our contact, Wally “Widget” Wilkerson will be much pleased.

The Benefits Of Profit-Based Management

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “Sure, these word-problems are a lot of fun, and I enjoy thinking about widgets as much as the next person, but what’s the point?” Fair question. The truth is, reframing your management of PPC campaigns to account for profit can lead to a number of insights and benefits. Those benefits include:

Better Alignment With Your Clients’ Goals And Better Understanding Of The Value Of PPC

As mentioned above, no matter what KPIs you report, chances are that your clients’ are ultimately most interested in generating an increased profit. Thus, if you haven’t had a conversation with your clients regarding their profit margin, there’s a good chance there’s a possible disconnect between the results you’re communicating and what the client really cares about.

It also puts in stark relief the value of PPC to the client. When calculating cost for the client, be sure you’re including your management fee (whether it be a percentage of spend or a flat rate) so you can say with confidence how much value is really being added to their business. If you’re calculating profit as an in-house PPC manager, simply include the total value of company resources that were dedicated to PPC (salaries, free office snacks consumed by digital marketers, etc.) to the cost column.

The Ability To Make Smarter Budget Decisions And Optimizations

Astute readers will note that, directionally, profit-based measurements will tell us the same thing as efficiency metrics like ROAS when profit margin is consistent. Campaigns that produce the greatest profit/cost will have the greatest ROAS. Take a look at the following example:

Here, calculating profit doesn’t really tell us anything new in terms of our budgeting. Whether we base our decision off ROAS or Profit, we’re likely to reallocate budget towards our Widget A campaign.

In most cases, though, profit margin is not consistent across all products or services. Let’s take a look at these widget campaigns again, but assume that different widget types have different profit margins.

Now we see that calculating profit leads us to different conclusions than we would have arrived at if we were to make decisions solely based on the ROAS of different campaigns. Widget A does not produce a profit even though it has the highest raw ROAS. In this case, it would be most profitable to reallocate budget to the campaigns for Widgets B and Widgets C.

This, of course, is a pretty simplified example, but there are many other opportunities for optimizations you might miss if you aren’t thinking in terms of a variable profit margin. For example, calculating the profit generated per click of your keywords could lead to different bidding decisions than you would have otherwise made. For more on that subject, check out this PPC Hero post, “Profit Per Keyword…Beats Cost Per Acquisition Every Time”. Fair warning: the post is from 2012, so it assumes you’ll be doing your calculations with an abacus, but other than that its recommendations are gold.

Wrapping Up

Ultimately, most businesses are concerned with generating profit. As digital marketers, the more we can communicate our results and make decisions according to profit, the more we’ll be aligned with our clients’ goals.

Have questions? Or stories to share about how profit-based reporting and management changed your approach for an account? Reach out on twitter @ppchero!


Jungle Scout is Hiring: A One-in-a-Million Chance Doesn’t Come Twice in a Lifetime

Jungle Scout is Hiring We’re looking for 16+ people in various roles, both remote and at one of our two offices in Canada or the US. If you’re interested, go ahead and check out the opportunities that are available. And if you’d like to learn why I love working for Jungle Scout, keep on reading. One Night in Bangkok I’m tired. Exhausted. No surprise, really. Yesterday I was running through a street market in Bangkok trying to outrun Becky Frost in a race to find a carrot. Yes, a carrot. And she runs pretty darn fast, too (by the way, this would be the first of many battles that Frosty and I would get into this week). In fact, there were a few of us from Jungle Scout running to find this elusive carrot. Shane Stinemetz, the Vice President of Operations. Patryk Wójcik, one of our customer success specialists. Kaia Olson, a full stack developer. Most of us were dropped off by a tuck-tuck driver with little to no direction or clues. This made the scavenger hunt pretty tough. Eventually, we figured out where the carrot was and moved on to the next challenge in the race. And that was just … Read More

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5 Ways to Increase Event Engagement

Over the last decade, marketers’ opinions of events have gone up and down. To some, events can be a monumental waste of money. But to many others, there’s an increasing sense of value in running expos and conferences. They bring your best customers together and attract a wider audience from your target market.

It’s what happens at the event that matters. In fact, according to Event Manager Blog, 91% of event organizers and marketers believe that increasing engagement is an important priority during events.

In this blog, I’ll outline five strategies to boost event engagement. Each technique uses technology and event marketing trends to keep attendees engaged, boost social proof, and improve the content around your event.

1. Engage With Influencers

Influencer marketing is a hot topic across many marketing channels. Your event marketing strategy is no exception. By engaging with thought leaders across content marketing and social channels, ticket sales can receive an unprecedented increase.

The approach you choose will depend on your objectives:

  1. Content & awareness: Collaborating with influencers to create content before and after your event. This approach adds an element of social proof and helps tap into a wider audience.
  2. Advocacy: This long-term goal means working exclusively with influencers to create content, letting them tell their story about your brand.

Start by listing out the target influencers you wish to collaborate with on content. There are different kinds of influencers that range in difficulty to reach.

For example, micro-influencers usually have a follower size of 1,000 to 100,000 but have a highly engaged audience. Then there are those who can be considered “celebrities,” with follower numbers in the millions. These are sought-after by brands who wish to boost brand awareness. Paid influencer platforms, such as NeoReach and HYPR, can help you identify and connect with relevant influencers. They use algorithms that pool data from all social networks, which makes finding the right influencers easy. Manual outreach is also effective, as you’re building a relationship directly with your target influencers. Do this by engaging with them on social media first. Contribute to the content they create, and help them share it.

You can also take advantage of the media buzz and borrow social proof with publications. WebEngage does this on the front page of their website:


Get your influencers involved in the entire event organization and promotion process. Thanks to the open nature of social media, this is now easier than ever before.

2. Gamification & Contests

People love to test their luck. Contests are a creative way of leveraging this desire, offering relevant prizes to get attendees to interact and contribute to your event. Giving away free Apple products used to be exciting and engaging. But this form of incentive has suffered the same fate as banner blindness. People are simply no longer excited by fancy gadgets.

The best prizes, therefore, are relevant to your event topic or value proposition. Work with exhibitors and speakers, encouraging them to contribute prizes. These could include:

  • Free access to software for three to six months
  • Consultation with experts on a specific topic (such as a “30-minute call to analyze your content marketing strategy”)
  • Tickets for next year’s event

The question then comes down to using this to inspire engagement. One of the best ways to do this is to ask for submissions in the form of tweets or Instagram posts. There are many benefits to this. First, you create a ton of buzz around the event on third-party channels, which builds upon your credibility. Social proof is imperative for securing attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors for future events. Furthermore, you now have a host of user-generated content (UGC) to use in future marketing collateral. Again, this helps build social proof for your brand while adding visual and multimedia formats to your content.

T-Mobile ran a contest like this on social media, offering to pay the cancellation fees of their current provider. Entrants were encouraged to write a breakup letter to their provider for the chance to win:


Image source

The result? Over 80,000 “letters” were submitted. A huge amount of buzz was generated on social media while attracting new customers at the same time.

Look for creative ways to encourage the creation of UGC while adding value to your attendees. Social media and media buzz are two event promotion channels that will benefit as a result.

3. Use Live Polls

Asking for a show of hands or doing a manual headcount can turn people off. It’s also an ineffective way to get a dynamic depth of opinions.

This is where live polling comes in. It lets your audience engage with keynotes and speeches as they happen. It turns a one-way stream of content into a conversation, which is key for engagement on a wide scale and makes your presentations more memorable.

Ask thought-provoking questions to get your attendees opinions on a topic. For example, speakers can poll attendees, providing the rest of the audience with insights into the challenges of their peers.

Poll Example

While this adds a social aspect to your event, the real value is in the feedback. Using the answers from this poll, speakers can direct their content accordingly. The feedback can be used to direct sessions towards topics the audience finds most interesting.

Polls can even provide insight and value for marketers after the event is over. The feedback it generates is a great source of content, giving you insights on blog topics and ideas for long-form content, such as ebooks. Of course, you can then use this to inform the content of future events.

Simon Puleo used live polling when training HP’s sales teams on presenting new products to clients. This involves attending large sales conferences all over the world with up to 800 attendees each. To keep sales professionals engaged, he encouraged individuals to come on stage and give their best pitch. Other attendees voted which they thought was most effective, adding a competitive element to the event.

When trying this yourself, run a poll at the beginning of your sessions. This approach will get the audience comfortable with the way voting works and the system itself. Keep it fun, so it’s easy to participate. From here, use it to generate feedback, direct the flow of the session and collect metrics for optimization of future events.

4. Create a Mobile App

The entire event engagement process, from your website to registration, can feel disjointed. Even the collateral that your attendees pick up on the day can be a little clunky. What if you could house your entire event marketing funnel under one roof? With mobile apps, you can.

What you include in our app depends on the nature of the event. Here are some typical features that most event apps include:

  1. Rich media: A steady stream of relevant content, often in the form of an activity stream
  2. Push notifications: Keeping attendees updated with relevant information
  3. Social media: Integrate with your social campaigns (perfect when accompanied by the UGC technique explained earlier)
  4. Interactive maps: Allows attendees to create a schedule that suits them

One of the most powerful features your app provides is analytics. Optimize your future events by providing the right insights.

South by Southwest (SXSW) created SXSW GO, an app that helped festival attendees navigate the huge annual event in Austin. Their objective was to improve the overall experience and eliminate friction when registering and networking during the event.

SBSW Example

Image source

Using iBeacons, introduced in 2014, attendees can see users that were around them to facilitate a richer networking experience. This technology allows attendees to reach out and arrange meetups during the event, providing flexible and targeted networking opportunities.

This level of integration also generated a huge amount of data. Attendee behavior, popular sessions, and content engagement are all insights that can optimize future events.

5. Virtual Event Bags

How much money do you and your sponsors spend on event swag each year? More importantly, do you know the ROI and where all those tote bags, booklets, pens, and badges end up?

There’s a lot of potential for waste. Not only that, this physical collateral is very hard to measure, which is why marketers and event organizers are moving over to “virtual event bags.”

These online goody bags help deliver measurable results while removing the clunky process of managing digital assets. With the right platform, it can be a collaborative process that gives your sponsors complete control over what they include.

Consumer Expo used virtual event bags to showcase sponsors, drive downloads to their event app and offer discounts:

Consumer Expo

The layout is simple but effective. Everything is laid out in an easy-to-use format. Friction is minimal, and attendees aren’t overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” filling up their desks the next day. Furthermore, organizers can see which offers work better than others. This will let them prove their worth to sponsors when selling future events, while also optimizing copy and creative for higher conversions.

The possibilities for improving your event engagement are endless—and exciting! What methods are you currently employing to engage with your event attendees? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Summit CTA 2018

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