Two women and one man working together on a better customer experience.

Every single result from our campaigns in Q1 & Q2 (and learnings for Q3 & Q4)

Finding the right paid acquisition channels is the key to unlocking effective growth for your company. 

But how do you find the perfect mix without wasting money?

Instead of churning out as many ads as possible and hoping for the best, you should be testing and perfecting early on. At Tuff, we partner with clients to learn what’s working and what’s not so we can prioritize the tactics that will help increase reach, leads, and revenue. 

Here’s the process we follow to do this: 

  • Growth starts with identifying your audience, their problem, and how you solve it. 
  • Then, we use data and analytics to benchmark your goals.
  • Next up, we select and prioritize highly targeted marketing tactics. 
  • Then, execute, test, and learn. Repeat, repeat, repeat.   

With that in mind, we analyzed 150 of our clients’ top-performing paid advertising campaigns from Q1 and Q2 of this year to highlight some common trends. 

Here, we share what we learned and how you can find greater success in Q3 and Q4. 

Facebook and Instagram

We all should have some form of a social media strategy. Seven in 10 adults in the US are active on Facebook, and Instagram now enjoys more than one billion monthly users

Whether you’re ready to expand your strategy to include paid social or you want to focus your current paid strategy, there are three tactics you should be using to make the most of your social advertising dollars:

1. Test multiple audiences and then refine

When it comes to success on Facebook and Instagram, we spend the majority of our strategy and execution efforts on the audience builds in Ads Manager. You can’t do anything without the right targeting and it’s something you’ll test often. If you want to effectively use Facebook and Instagram to reach your goals, start with your audience and work to understand their pain points, interests, location, and purchase behaviors. 

Here are three audience segments we’ve seen work incredibly well on Facebook and Instagram: 

Lookalike Audiences: This is a pre-qualified way to draw potential customers into the fold. It works by taking data on your current customers and searching for Facebook members with overlapping interests and connections. It’s a cool bit of matchmaking that can help you uncover a whole new group of potentially loyal new customers. If your website has a decent amount of traffic, start with website Lookalike Audiences of 1-3% and layer on interests or purchase behaviors for more granularity. 

Facebook lookalike audience.

Custom Audiences: If you have an email list of customers or subscribers, upload it to Facebook. From here, you target these matches or create a Lookalike Audience and target people similar to your existing list. With Lookalikes, we like to layer on interests and behaviors and build a collection of audiences that range in sizes narrow through broad. 

Abandoners: Can you think about your user journey and create specific campaigns for people who drop out of your funnel? For example with ecommerce, we target people who almost bought made a purchase but that needed an extra nudge to make it happen.

Facebook retargeting audience.

2. Exclude current customers or users

Just as you can customize an audience on Facebook and Instagram based on who you want to include, you can also intentionally leave people out. There are plenty of reasons you may want to exclude someone from a targeted audience, but you especially don’t want to waste precious ad dollars on customers that you’ve already converted. There is a time, place, and way to re-engage those customers purposefully, so don’t lump them in with your new leads.

Facebook app campaign audiences.

3. Isolate placements using data

Once you’ve zeroed in your audience, meet them where they are. Just as it was in the days of traditional media buying, placement is everything. When results vary drastically by placement, we’ll look to isolate placements if we think we can ramp up performance on one platform or placement more than others or exclude placements if they are dragging down results. Finding the right spot to place your ad (mobile, Instagram, news feed, etc.) will also help you determine how to best design it for optimal results.

Paid facebook campaign placements.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an especially powerful tool if you’re focused on B2B. 

Ninety-three percent of B2B marketers now consider LinkedIn the most effective site for lead generation. 

There are two strategies to consider if you’re putting money into LinkedIn:

1. Stick with sponsored InMail for lead generation

This ad type allows you to send personalized messages to customized audiences and straddles the line between outbound email and sponsored content. It works like a message in that it’s delivered to the user’s inbox but includes a CTA button that links to your chosen landing page. It’s easy to aggregate an audience, and they’re sure to be primed for engagement, as it’s only delivered to active audiences. When it comes to B2B leads, this is costly but effective. 

LinkedIn sponsored inmail advertising campaign.

2. Use Sponsored Posts for awareness and traffic

Sponsored posts on LinkedIn are a great way to boost your brand’s awareness to a business audience. They are less aggressively “sales-y” than your typical ad, and you can use them to redirect to even more robust content on your company page, encouraging leads to get to know you. You can also edit them easily, which allows for continual optimization through small tweaks based on audience response.

Google and Bing

Moving away from paid social and into paid search, we’ve narrowed in on three key trends to consider when creating your paid search strategy:

1. Tread lightly with fully optimized bidding

If you’re a service or local business, Google may be pushing you in the direction of using tCPA (target cost-per-action). This is a bidding strategy that relies on automated triggers and this type of automation is where most of PPC is headed. For now though, we’ve found that using manual CPC bid strategies still produces higher quality results. If you want to test out tCPA, make sure to target 20% higher, expect to spend higher amounts in the first 30 days, and be prepared to double-check quality. 

2. Understand and leverage device-specific performance

The majority of your traffic is now mobile which means your mobile strategy needs to be core, not an afterthought. It’s key to consider how your ad will appear and behave on certain devices. Tweaking ad scheduling and audience targeting based on specific mobile devices can seriously boost your ad performance. 

Google ads campaign.

3. Get creative with ad copy

In the past, Google Ad copy was all about finding the perfect keyword. You wanted to stick as close as possible to the exact search term. But these days, we’re seeing better results when we take a more editorial approach.

Don’t be afraid of quirky copy. Catching a customer’s eye is more important than stuffing in the maximum amount of keywords. 

Takeaways for ecommerce

The ability to target potential customers so effectively and with such granularity is huge when you are selling your products online. We love creating paid search and social campaigns for ecommerce because there is so much data to learn from. 

Here are three areas we’ve been focusing on for ecommerce businesses: 

1. Get serious about retargeting

There is nothing worse than drawing consumers to your site and then watching them leave without making a purchase. Retargeting is how you get them to come back and take that next step through the sales funnel. Check out our recent ecommerce retargeting blog post for more information on how to leverage this vital tool.

2. Optimize for conversion actions

If your sales figures are stable, focus on optimizing your paid media for sales, rather than just clicks. We’ve had success running traffic-driving campaigns alongside sales-optimized campaigns this year. We fill the funnel with leads from the click campaigns and then close those leads with sales campaigns.

3. Snag that brand traffic

You’re going to reach massive audiences with paid social. Most of these people aren’t looking for you, so you have to work to make an impression on them as they’re scrolling through their feed. Following that, you want them to head to Google and find you at the top of the results.

Your paid acquisition strategy has to work in a combined fashion like this. The platforms should work together rather than in isolation.

Takeaways for B2B

We mentioned LinkedIn as a successful paid channel for B2B but there are a few trends we’ve noticed on a higher level across campaigns for multiple B2B clients.

Here are three tips for B2B paid media:

1. Switch up those CTAs

You’d be surprised how many benefits you’ll get out of freshening up your copy. We recently worked with a client and changed their CTA of “Start Your Free Trial” to “Try 1 Month Free,” and that small edit helped us increase conversion rates by 279%.

2. Use your ad copy to pre-qualify leads

If your product or service is high-end, drop a mention of your price point somewhere in your marketing copy. This will help you both weed out people looking for a cheap solution and tee up exactly the kind of customer you want.

3. Work social proof into your paid campaigns

Let your loyal customers do the talking for you. Using your paid placements to show off the clients who already love you will help draw in users with a similar profile and tendencies.

Facebook remarketing campaign. Facebook remarketing campaign.

Takeaways for B2C

We’re pretty vocal about the fact that rapid growth doesn’t come overnight. It takes intentional, data-informed campaigns that are continuously being optimized. This is always important but even more so with B2C. 

Individuals are constantly seeing ads and to set yourself apart from the pack, consider these three tactics. 

1. Start with value-based campaigns

It might be tempting to go with flashy, hard-sell ads in an attempt to be noticed and cut through the noise. But most consumers will be instantly turned off by this approach.

What they’re really looking for is value. How can you provide that? Try utilizing things like quizzes, giveaways, and helpful resources.

2. Build product or service-specific landing pages

It’s vital that the page your ads lead to is one where a customer can take immediate action. To that end, making your landing pages product- or service-specific is a smart move. Don’t leave the customer wandering; point them to where they need to be to take the next step in the funnel. 

3. Test and improve your creative

Anyone can slap an ad together these days, so it’s vital that you put creative thought behind what you put out. It won’t matter one bit that you’re reaching the perfect audience if your delivery is lackluster. Think high-quality images and videos as well as top-notch design. 

Facebook a/b test results.

Takeaways for apps

With the number of mobile advertising platforms out there, getting started on your app advertising strategy can be overwhelming. The more campaigns we run focused on app installs, the more we learn.  

Consider these three suggestions for increasing paid app installs:

1. Follow the 80/20 rule

Set up as many audience tests as possible. We like to create a campaign for each location and then create multiple ad sets per location. We set very small budgets for each ad set and allow them to run for 14 days, making small optimizations along the way as we add and drop ad sets. At the end of those two weeks, we kill 80% of the audiences and scale up significantly for that top 20%.

2. Don’t exclude placements

Facebook and Google want max control. While you’ll see better results by placement, don’t exclude anything in the initial setup.

3. Build separate campaigns for iOS and Andriod

Make sure you’re approaching your paid acquisition strategies for iOS and Android differently. They’re going to perform very differently, so you want to plan for that.

Analyze the cost-per-install results broken out so that you know where to allocate your spend. Lumping everything together runs the risk of muddying the waters.

What’s next?

Serving multiple clients ranging from B2C, B2B, and Ecommerce gives us the advantage of running diverse campaigns with tailored goals depending on the industry and growth stage of the company we’re partnering with. It also gives us the opportunity to run paid campaigns at scale and understand what is working, why, and how to recreate it for all of our clients. 

Taking what we’ve learned from examining our clients’ best performing campaigns, we’re excited to launch into Q3 with solid strategy and execution. 

If your company could benefit from this kind of analysis, we’d love to schedule a free, 30-minute session with you to talk about your current paid acquisition strategies and how you can improve upon them and help foster growth. 

Inside Look: How We Use Ecommerce Retargeting to Increase Sales

Women shopping online.

We’ve all had this experience:

You’re scrolling your Facebook feed or reading an article, only to spot an ad for a website you recently visited. It may be a site you checked out briefly, or you may have gone so far as to put items in your shopping cart before changing your mind about pulling the trigger.

Either way, that company tracked your engagement with them, and they’re now using ecommerce retargeting campaigns to serve you ads to stimulate further interaction and, ultimately, turn you into a lead, sale, or client.

Annoying? Sometimes.

Effective? Yes.

Retargeting is one of the most powerful and effective paid acquisition strategies you can use to drive sales. It also happens to be a strategy most of our clients are curious about.

It’s not uncommon for 95% or more of your site’s visitors to leave without making a purchase.

Ensuring they visit your site more than once is essential if you hope to have any chance of converting them. Retargeting is a direct and purposeful way to increase the chances of someone coming back to your online store.

We’re often asked: How are brands and businesses succeeding with retargeting today? And how do we leverage retargeting to increase ROAS and drive more sales for our online store?

We optimize retargeting campaigns every day and are eager to share what’s working on Facebook and Instagram.

Let’s dive in.

How does ecommerce retargeting work?

The most common type of retargeting ad is pixel-based. This means that when someone visits your site and checks out a page, a bit of JavaScript called a pixel is left in their browser.

This makes their browser “cookied” and allows you to target your advertising to their movements on your site. This type of retargeting can be done immediately upon the user leaving your site and will be ultra-tailored to the content or product they were viewing.

You can also approach retargeting in a list-based fashion, meaning that you can create ads targeted to specific lists of customers for which you already have contact information.

This can be a more customized way to approach retargeting since it considers more than just one instance of customer behavior and allows you to cultivate a particular audience more thoughtfully.

Is retargeting right for my business?

Once you’re regularly clocking 1,000+ monthly visitors to your site, retargeting is a no brainer. It should be a core part of your ecommerce Facebook ad strategy.

It also tends to work best when approached proactively, rather than implemented as a reaction to falling traffic or poor conversion rates. For example, when you build a prospecting campaign to draw in new potential customers, you should already have plans in place to redirect that audience to your site via retargeting ads.

Retargeting has a significant ROAS (an underutilized metric that you should be paying attention to) and, if planned in advance with your initial campaign, can net you 20% more new customers without too much added cost.

Retargeting is an especially useful tool for brands with a multitude of products, as it allows you to tailor ad content to very specific customer segments.

Say you’re a shoe company that sells footwear for a wide variety of athletes. You would set up individual retargeting campaigns for runners, tennis players, basketball players, and more, guaranteeing that the ad content is highly personalized and relevant to the consumer viewing it.

What results can I expect with retargeting?

If you’re wondering if retargeting is really that effective, it might help to see some hard numbers.

In May, Tuff spent $2,161.30 on Facebook for a client of ours. Thirty-five percent of that spend was allocated to retargeting campaigns.

From the retargeting ads specifically, we generated and completed 98 sales for a total sales figure of $2,450. That’s a 362% ROI.

Facebook ads manager with ecommerce campaigns highlighted.

A big part of why retargeting is so effective is that it speaks more directly to potential customers.

When you’re advertising to a totally new audience, your ultimate goal is to spark interest in your brand. With retargeting, you already know the customer is interested, which means your copy and creative can be more specific and personalized to their exact interests.

For this client, we launched their ecommerce retargeting campaigns by driving quality traffic to the site and then retargeting users to bring them back to the product purchase page they had previously visited. Our goal with these ads was to enable people to click on the ad and be taken directly to the next step in the sales funnel.

Every industry is different but here are three main types of retargeting ads, at a minimum, we recommend running:

3-Day Retarget

This can be an opportunity to squash any hesitation they had from making the purchase the first time they were on your site. Maybe the timing was wrong, they were in the middle of something, or maybe they need the social proof of a testimonial to push them to convert.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

7-Day Retarget

This is a good time to introduce any special offers you might already have running. You don’t necessarily need to create them for retargeting ads but highlight them to help encourage this purchase.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting campaign.

Cart Abandoners

This is an exciting group. They got so far as to select items and add them to their cart so you know they’re interested. A cart abandoner ad is hopefully the final reminder and push they need to commit.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting ad example.

How is retargeting different from traditional Facebook ads?

While retargeting is an essential piece of any ecommerce ppc strategy, you cannot approach it in the same way as traditional ads. There are two key things you must remember when you’re attempting to develop a plan for retargeting.

1. It requires a dedicated strategy.

As tempted as you may be to make your retargeting efforts match up with the rest of your ecommerce Facebook ad strategy for the sake of ease, don’t do it. Retargeting is a very unique type of paid advertising, and it deserves its own individualized plan.

Retargeting ads can become incredibly obnoxious to potential customers, so you have to walk a fine line. You want to be present as they navigate around the web, but you don’t want them to see the ad so much they start to loathe your brand. Oversaturation is a real concern here.

You also want the design, copy, and landing page to be just right. Avoid the type of design and copy that scream “marketing blitz.”

Use this opportunity to tailor the ad to the exact product or page the customer visited on your site. Make the copy fun, quirky, and compelling. Give them a reason to revisit, and make sure the ad sends them to the right place when they do.

Here’s one of our favorite retargeting ads from this year that demonstrates how creative you can get with copy:

Facebook cart abandoner ecommerce retargeting campaign.

2. It should be tested and tested and tested.

The name of the game with retargeting is continuous optimization. The longer your retargeting ad runs, the more familiar people become with your brand.

If you’re on a tight budget, identify which testing elements have the highest ROI before you start tweaking things. We normally recommend a focus on the following elements:

  • Ad visual
  • Ad copy (especially the headline)
  • Ad delivery objectives

Here is how this looks when applied in a real campaign. For the below example, all we wanted to test was the image. The headline, text, and description are all the same. The image on the right received 2x more clicks for $0.10 less than the image on the left.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.  

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

How do I get started?

If you’ve not integrated retargeting into your marketing strategy yet, let’s do it. It is hands-down one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your online sales. It’s also easy to get started, even if you haven’t done much paid advertising in the past.

If you’re interested in learning more about retargeting and other tools that can help you increase customer conversion, schedule a free growth strategy session with our team. We’ll learn more about your growth goals and help you think through ideas for growing your business.

A man leaning against a web browser, talking on his cellphone.

The 30-Minute PPC Audit Anyone Can Do

A man leaning against a web browser, talking on his cellphone.

Let’s get one thing about a PPC audit off our chest. We know our PPC accounts aren’t always perfect 100% of the time. Audits are one of the best tools we have for making small, sustainable improvements.

That’s why we routinely conduct audits for our clients. Incorporating this step into our PPC management process helps us catch small issues before they become big issues.

As we have one quarter behind us this year, we’re taking the time to audit our efforts more extensively. The main purpose of a deep-dive PPC audit is to help our clients with Q2 marketing strategy development. These audits help us:

  • understand historical performance in a way that allows us to set better goals
  • identify the right metrics we should be measuring
  • highlight room for improvement

Many of our clients are in the process of setting Q2 marketing goals and budgets right now. To help contribute to these strategy efforts, we conduct a PPC audit to offer reliable projections to determine spend, number of leads, cost per lead, conversion rate, sales, and more. Hopefully this post can help you do the same!

The following checklist outlines the different account areas you can dive into during your PPC audit and what items to look for.

Date Range

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on the entire year. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your audit to be statistically relevant. For this year’s year end audit, we selected January 1, 2017 – November 1, 2017.

Metrics

The next step you want to do before digging into the data is select the metrics you want to evaluate your account by.

To avoid analysis paralysis, it’s crucial to strip away the excess and focus on the paid search advertising metrics that provide actionable insight. Assessing critical paid search advertising metrics during your audit will allow you to monitor and improve digital performance.

Here are the top 6 metrics we like to include in a PPC audit:

  • Channel Growth
  • Conversion Rate
  • Acquisition
  • Cost Per Order (or Cost Per Lead)
  • Sales
  • Revenue

PPC Audit Checklist

Review Campaign Settings

Your account structure should be divided into a number of campaigns based on clear categorical buckets.

If your strategy is to organize by market ー for instance state, city, or county ー your campaigns should be labeled with the associated market. If your strategy is to organize by product type or service, your campaigns should be labeled with the associated product or service. Keeping a clear naming structure at the account level will help you stay organized and reduce reporting time.

You don’t want your campaigns to look like this:

Screenshot of Google AdWords Campaigns dropdown

The key is to avoid numbers and over complicated naming conventions – keep it simple, straightforward. Essentially, are the campaigns numbered A-Z or do they have unique names that explain what kind of ad groups you’re going to find and what type of campaign type it is?

Access Ad Group Relevancy

It’s tough to get potential customers to convert if their pay-per-click experience is not relevant. One of the best ways to make their click experience more relevant is to match the creative and copy of your ad to the search term of the user.

High-Intent Search Term —> Hyper-Specific Ads —-> Relevant Landing Page

How can you do this? Scan your account to find ad groups that hold more than 15-20 keywords. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up.

Why does the number of keywords matter so much? While your ad groups’ keyword count won’t impact performance, remember that you want your ads to be as relevant as possible. When you have a huge list of keywords, it typically includes includes various themes, meaning you’re forced to write generic ad copy.

Rather than serving generic ad copy to a large list of keywords, you want to breakout your ad groups into lists of granular, related keywords that share the same theme. When you do this, you can create hyper-specific ads for each ad group that will help you increase your quality score and click through rate.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are the extra snippets of information Google allows advertisers to add to their Expanded Text ads to provide more relevant information to searchers. Ad extensions can help improve click-through rates and give you more real-estate on the page. They are an important part of the PPC audit to pay attention to. If your account doesn’t have any ad extensions set up, get on it!

If you have extensions in place, double check that the extensions are running successfully. Are your sitelinks truly representative of your business? Can you check your call extension to make sure someone is answering the phone when it rings?

Check Number of Ads and Ad Copy

Scan your account to find ad groups that only have one ad running. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up. We generally recommend having a minimum of three ads per ad group to improve account optimization.

However, you also don’t want to have a ton of ads per ad group. The sweet spot is typically somewhere between 2-3 ads. This amount keeps the account manageable, while giving you enough data to run tests. Let your ads run two weeks, identify a winner, pause the losing ads and test out new options against your winner.

While you are reviewing your ads, don’t forget to focus on the basics as well. Are all of your ads grammatically correct? Do any of the ads have spelling errors? Are they promoting the most relevant offers?

Review Settings

Analyzing your campaign settings is a simple activity that takes less than five minutes. We love digging into campaign settings because it’s generally something that is set up when the campaigns are created and then never looked at again. There are probably some juicy adjustments to be made.

In the settings tab, you can check and optimize device performance, ad delivery method, ad scheduling, ad rotation, and location/language targeting.

Key items to focus on:

  • Is your campaign targeting search and display traffic? If so, fixing this can be a big win for your account. The main problem with targeting search and display within one campaign is that these networks target users in two completely different scenarios. You can’t get a clear understanding of performance and your ads are less effective.
  • Are you serving your ads in all available target markets? Check your locations settings to make sure you are targeting all the countries, states, cities, or counties relevant to your business. Here you can make bid adjustments based on the target locations you value the most.
  • Are you making device bid adjustments? Review your performance by device – mobile, desktop, and tablet. If your performance alters by device, you can make adjustments to prioritize your top performing devices.

Triple Check Conversion Tracking

Last but not least in the PPC audit, are you tracking conversions properly? Neglecting to track conversions is a massive PPC mistake.

Without conversion data, it’s impossible to understand what’s working and what’s not. Here are some common conversion errors that you can watch out for:

  • Your not measuring phone call conversions from search and digital. We strongly recommend setting up CallRail to track calls from PPC. Setting your account up to track phone calls will help you optimize your marketing and increase ROI.
  • Your clicks and conversions are exactly the same. If you see this in your account, you have your conversion tracking code on every page of your website, rather than just your order confirmation/thank you page. Unlike your remarketing tag, your conversion tag should only be placed on the page that appears after a conversion has been completed.
  • Your conversion count is super low. A suspiciously low number of conversions could mean you’re missing conversions. Before abandoning your PPC efforts all together, double check to make sure conversion status isn’t “unverified” or “tag inactive”. If you see either of these errors, re-install your conversion tag and follow these steps to verify the setup is correct.

Your turn!

We strongly encourage marketing teams conduct a PPC audit quarterly and annually so they can search for new and better solutions to improve campaigns. While the above checklist can easily be completed in 30 minutes, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive check, it may be better to outsource the project and get fresh eyes.

Tuff offers a free PPC audit and would love to learn more about your company and goals.

A woman with her phone standing in front of two hills with flags on top

Landing Page or Homepage? Where To Send Your Paid Traffic

Think your homepage is good enough to send paid traffic to? Think again.

First of all, what is the difference between a homepage and a landing page?

A homepage is the central focus of your website

It’s used as the front facing asset for the various forms of traffic coming to your business.  

A homepage is meant to:

  • Clearly align with your audience and their needs
  • Be easy to navigate to other areas of your site
  • Make it obvious how to convert into a lead or take next steps to engage further with your company
  • Be clear and comprehensive about what you do
  • Leave a good impression about your brand and what it stands for

A homepage is important because a lot of the disparate traffic across the web will somehow be pointed to your homepage, including SEO backlinks which are generally pointed towards homepages.

If you’re doing a lot of networking or emailing you could also see a lot of direct traffic typing in your name and going straight to your homepage. In general, more than 50% of your website traffic will go to your homepage.

A lot of companies take great pains to make sure their homepage is optimized to convert. This amount of effort on the homepage can sometimes lead a marketing manager or decision maker to favor the homepage for paid traffic rather than a landing page. The thinking is usually that if you’ve put in the effort to raise conversion rates on the homepage, it should be a strong enough to capture paid traffic as well.

So, in comparison, what is a landing page?  

A landing page is a narrow focused page. It’s designed to align even more closely with a specific need your audience has. According to Neil Patel, a landing page is developed with One reader in mind, for One big idea.  

A landing page is meant to:

  • Have 100% Ad -> Page consistency with messaging (i.e. your paid ad is about an upcoming webinar and your landing page is all about that specific webinar topic with a form to fill out to save your seat)
  • Leave the audience with one option of what to do next, usually in line with their specific pain point (i.e. you send paid traffic looking for the Keyword ‘Promo Product Samples’ to a page where they can get samples of your Product, not the homepage where they can get samples, mock ups, catalogs, and join the mailing list)
  • Be the solution they’re looking for (i.e. someone is looking for Apple Macbook Pro and you send them to a page all about the Macbook Pro, rather than sending them to a page with various apple products to choose from)
  • Follow the best practices for a homepage like leaving a good brand impression and being easy to convert

A landing page by its customizable nature is a better choice for (increasingly expensive) paid traffic because it aligns more closely with the customer journey. In fact, companies that test their homepage versus landing pages have seen big increases in conversions, up to a 55% lift

The reason is that a landing page speaks directly to a user’s need, which you should have already hyper-focused using your ad targeting and ad copy. By the time the customer gets to your page they should be relieved to have found exactly what they’re looking for.

Homepage vs. landing page

A man presenting with charts behind him.

When deciding on sending paid traffic to a homepage versus a landing page, think of the customer and where they’re at in their journey. 

If they are showing any kind of buying intent or product/service specificity within their paid search, think about catering to that with a landing page. Another case for a landing page would be remarketing specific products (Macbook Pro) to specific segments of audience (cart abandoners) that showed interest in that product.  

But my homepage is still good enough, it converts well!

If your traffic is very top of funnel and searching for more vague terms, or if the searcher is simply searching for brand terms, you could get away with a great homepage. Another case for the homepage is remarketing to that top of funnel traffic, the people that aren’t as familiar with your brand.

As always with marketing, think of the customer first and where they are in their journey. Then, test using a landing page versus a homepage, catering your funnel to the user’s needs, and watch your conversions skyrocket.

Need help optimizing your funnel for paid traffic? 

Tuff can help! Schedule a free funnel audit now.

A woman pushing a shopping cart and walking into an iphone

How Wireframing Will Improve Your Conversion Rate

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. Meet Xendoo.

Xendoo is an online accounting and bookkeeping service partnering with small business owners to take on their business financials and accounting with a dedicated team of CPAs. They give small business owners time back to focus on their business and give them peace of mind by knowing their books are being done correctly. Founded in 2016, Xendoo received an initial round of funding in 2017. We were lucky to start working with them later that year.

We partnered with Xendoo to improve their website’s user experience and as a result, they had their highest client acquisition month ever with:

  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

Why Xendoo Focused On User Experience

A website is one of the most powerful user acquisition channels for businesses today, and for good reason. If you build it right, your website can be the best and most cost effective marketing tool you have. Especially when you’ve done the research to know which complementary user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth for your audience.

For a fast-growing startup, it’s common to outgrow the early versions of your site. As you scale, your positioning will evolve, your brand identity will become more established, and you’ll hone in on your ideal users.

As this happens, it’s critical that your site also evolves. If you put consistent effort into improving the user experience of your website and everything that goes with it, you can consistently improve your conversion rate and scale your user acquisition.  

Xendoo launched their site in late 2017 with two core goals in mind: client acquisition and fundraising. The site needed to serve and secure new clients, but it also needed to attract investors. We launched our paid client acquisition efforts in January of 2018 and immediately started growing a slow, but steady, client base. As Xendoo gained more traction throughout the year, the site data started pouring in and areas of improvement were easily identified.  

So, how did we double their conversions (yes, that turned into almost twice as many clients per month!)?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Xendoo’s Playbook

Customer Research

Designing a great user experience requires understanding the problems different visitors have and then working to solve those problems. Before we worked on the structure of the website, we leveraged Google Analytics, LiveHelpNow (live chat), and CallRail (phone calls) to identify hurdles that stopped people from moving through the conversion funnel.

Three distinct themes surfaced:

  • What services does Xendoo offer exactly?
    • Ideal: When someone lands on this page, they should immediately know how it’s going to help them.
  • What services do you integrate with?
    • Ideal: This should be quick and easy to understand.   
  • How do I start a free trial?
    • Ideal: Consistent language and visuals around one primary CTA.

Clear CTA

Leaning on the data we turned our focus to the site structure, designing the primary CTA first. Making the CTA the first element you include in your skeleton layout will ensure that the rest of the website supports the CTA and isn’t buried on the page. When working on user flow, you need to ask yourself “What is the number one thing we want users to do?” and “What value does our service or product fulfill for the user?” The intersection of these answers is your primary call-to-action. For Xendoo, this CTA was a month of bookkeeping for free.

Wireframes

Once we had the CTA’s identified, we built the site wireframes. Wireframes are a blueprint to define the information architecture and layout of your website or product. They allow you to take a step back from the design and develop a clear understanding of all user paths throughout a site. This is one of the most essential, yet overlooked, steps in creating a high-converting website.

Mock Up

The final step in the wireframe process was to develop a sample mock. It’s a common practice for designers to use “Lorem Ipsum” while wireframing and designing mockups. But, when it comes to increasing your conversions your content is equally, if not more important, as your layout and design. Once we had the copy down, we were able to work it into an illustrative mock that set the tone for the entirety of the site design.

Results:

  • Best client acquisition month ever!
  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

Free Growth Strategy Session

What questions do you have about user experience or conversion rate optimization that we might have missed? For more help with your questions feel free to reach out to Tuff! We’d be happy to review an existing account. Sign up for a free growth strategy session with Tuff today.

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How to Find Your User Acquisition Channels

A magnifying glass with a shopping basket and pie chart

Figuring out which user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth is key to your business success.

Acquisition channels are diverse and plenty. With many options, how can you create a channel strategy that will really accomplish your goals?

Few companies can afford to actively use more than a handful of channels and, even so, it’s tough to figure out which ones are actually delivering the right customers.

I’ve spent the past few years working with all kinds of businesses across a range of industries to help them figure this out. Instead of sharing a whole list of tactics you can try out yourself, I’m going to share the one consistent strategy I’ve seen add more to the bottom line than any specific channel –  trial and error.

It can seem overwhelming at the start, but testing and optimization should become part of your growth DNA. What might seem like a steep learning curve will turn into a path with long-term payoff when you get it right.

Let’s dive in.

Focus on your users, not your channel

There’s so much out there, it’s often hard to know where to start. As a business owner, you might feel a lot of pressure to continue coming up with new ways to connect with and reach your audience.

 

However, there’s one fundamental thing you need to focus on and continue focusing on from day one. To successfully manage your tests and increase the chances of success, listen to users and understand their perspective. User research is a priority that should, in some way, find a home within the design of any new channel or tactic strategy.

Whether you have 1,000 customers or 100,000, focus on the already successful users and uncover the user acquisition channels that converted these people. Uncover as much as you can about these people to help your growth team understand what triggers and motivates them to take action. What was their user journey with your product or service and how can you repeat it with future customers? Doing this on a regular basis will give you the right lens to narrow the types of tactics and channels that are most likely to drive a positive response from prospective customers.

Set clear goals

If you’re early in your business, finding growth channels is about traction – not scale. With that in mind, before you start experimenting, make sure you’ve set clear goals you’d like to achieve – even if you don’t have much data to base them on.

Whatever user acquisition channels you attempt, testing and refining campaigns will be a critical part of the process. It’s important to measure the ROI of your efforts by channel so that you know which need a bit of tuning and which need a complete makeover or be dropped.

There’s been a lot written about goal-setting! And, you might already know what works best for you. Here are some of our favorite resources if you’d like to learn more about setting intentional goals:

Create a ridiculously long list of channels and tactics

Have a million and one things rattling around in your head? Good! Just get it all out there.

A brain dump can help you organize your thoughts and feel more in control, especially when you use it to create a growth list like this one.

Get your team together and build your user acquisition channels list – write it down, type it out, drop it into Google Sheets, whatever you want to do. Don’t worry if it’s unorganized or sporadic, you’ll restructure it later.

A chart of possible user acquisition channels

 

Evaluate channel possibility

So you have a big list, now what?

Even lean testing means an entirely new set of processes, resources, and outputs, so it’s important to be intentional with how you and your team spend your time. Attempting to drive growth on too many user acquisition channels at the same time will divide your resources and dilutes your focus.

One way to manage your tests and increase the chances of success is to spend time upfront evaluating emerging channels—the idea is to test and get early access to good opportunities, but you can’t do everything.

Consider the following questions to help you prioritize channels with a “high propensity” to work for your business:

  • Does the channel have an audience that roughly matches your customer personas?
  • Is this channel crowded or emerging? Are your competitors there and will you have to shell out buckets of cash to play?
  • What part of the buyer’s journey do you believe the customer is in when they’re spending time on this platform? How does that align with your business goals?
  • Can you effectively filter your ads to reach only your target audience to better manage your costs and get the best bang for your buck?  
  • Is this a compounding loop? Will this channel enable our users to grow the product for us?

Assemble a team to make it happen

We have seen a lot of founders focus on growth strategies. The starting point for that is almost always, “What should the structure for the growth team be?”

As we’ve outlined in the process above, the first step is defining the user acquisition channels that will or have the biggest impact on growth, and working your way backward to the team needed to execute effectively. When you do that, you will quickly realize that to execute on your ideas you need a cross-functional team with a mix of engineering, product, data, design, marketing, and sales skills. The mix will depend on the particular channel you test.

Which is why I love that we are building Tuff not just for our clients, but also with them. We believe the future of growth agencies is in being value drivers, rather than service providers. Sure, we have a number of top-notch services we regularly execute. But, it’s bigger than that.  In order for you to find traction and scale growth for your business, you need a customizable, plug-in growth team.

So, what do you say, ready to get started? Join us for a free growth strategy session where we can dive into the user acquisition channels right for your company and growth. 

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5 Simple Strategies to Improve PPC Results

Woman with her laptop sitting on a cloud with arrow pointing up

One of the most exciting pieces of working on PPC is that every account is different and some tactics that work for one account may not work for another.

However, every time we roll up our sleeves and start a new campaign or want to see changes in a current campaign, we have 5 go-to strategies we feel confident will improve PPC results.

In this post, we share 5 straightforward ways to improve your PPC performance — all of which are proven and have worked for us.

What’s included?

  • Can we reduce non-converting spend?
  • Can we improve our keyword match types?
  • Can we align our ad copy more closely to our landing page?
  • Can we make bid adjustments by device?
  • Can we utilize remarketing lists for search ads?

Let’s dive in!

#1: Can we reduce non-converting spend?

This is a quick, yet effective strategy. Can you identify keywords that have lots of impressions and clicks, but no conversions or orders? This is called a non-converting keyword: a keyword that spends a significant amount of your budget without providing a valuable return on your investment. It’s important not to get distracted by the vanity metric of clicks, the end goal is conversion.

Reviewing your account and identifying non-converting keywords will help you:

    • Eliminate waste: Optimize or pause keywords that have not converted.
  • Improve the user experience: Investigate keywords that have a high CTR and high Bounce Rate because this means that the keyword is relevant to the ad but the landing page is probably not correct.

We recently used this strategy when we took over the Adwords account for Jackson Tree Service. This technique helped reduce their Cost Per Click (CPC) by 45% and increase their Click Through Rate (CTR) by 39%. 

#2: Can we improve our keyword match types?

Broad match keywords can be costly because they often generate a large amount of unqualified traffic. Can you, on a weekly basis, use more restrictive match types (modified broad and exact) to filter out unqualified traffic? While clicks may decrease, you’ll be showing your ads to more high intent search terms which will improve sales and increase quality scores.

Broad match is the default match type for keywords unless you select a specific match type. Because broad matched keywords are aimed at capturing a large number of impressions and reach, your ad can show on irrelevant search causing costs to rise fast. Monitor your account for low quality keywords and eliminate any broad match terms that are monopolizing your budget.

For more examples on keyword match types, check out this help doc from Google Adwords support center.

#3: Can we align our ad copy more closely to our landing page?

It’s tough to get potential customers to convert if their pay-per-click experience is not relevant. One of the best ways to make their click experience more relevant is to match the creative and copy of your landing page to the ad copy served on Google.

Here’s an example: If you are a landscaping company in Denver and bidding on the keyword ‘+professional +lawn +service +company +near +me”, you’ll want your ad copy to include the terms “lawn services”, your url extensions to include lawn/service, and your ad description to mention “lawn services”.

In addition to making sure you align your keyword closely with your ad copy, send them directly to a page showcasing your lawn services.

#4: Can we make bid adjustments by device?

If desktop is performing significantly better than your campaign’s average cost per order, and tablet is performing significantly worse, it probably makes sense to increase bids on desktop, while decreasing bids on tablet. This doesn’t mean you have to turn off a device completely. By bringing each segment’s performance closer to the overall average, your campaign should become more efficient and yield more total conversions.

You can see how your campaigns are doing by selecting a campaign, going to your settings tab and clicking “device”. This example shows bid adjustments for desktop and tablet.

#5: Can we utilize remarketing lists for search and display ads?

With remarketing audiences, you have the ability to increase bids for users who are more likely to convert than your average Joe on the street who has never heard of your company and might not be a quality click. This gives you the ability to potentially bid down across product category Search campaigns as a whole but bid higher on audiences more likely to convert. If you have a product category that has a low ROI and isn’t bringing in new 01’s, you can only serve this category to returning visitors.

In order to leverage a remarketing list, you first must place the Adwords Remarketing tag on your website. To access to retargeting tag, open your Adwords account and select “Shared library” from the left menu bar. Under Shared library, select audiences.

If you’re creating a remarketing list for the first time, you’ll see several remarketing options. Under “Website visitors,” click “Set up remarketing” and complete the setup process

Over to you! We’re excited to share our strategies, open up conversations on PPC and learn all together. What PPC strategies do you lean on when looking to supercharge results?

Free Growth Strategy Session

If you’re looking for a PPC solution, drop us a line and hit us with all the details. For more help with your questions feel free to reach out to Tuff! We’d be happy to review an existing account in a free growth strategy session.

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The Biggest Mistake Most Businesses Make When Investing in PPC

What is the ROI on your PPC channels and how does it compare to your other digital marketing efforts?

If you can’t answer this question, you’re not alone.

When it comes to digital marketing, PPC is a critical piece of the client acquisition mix. Done right, it can bring you more leads, more sales, and more revenue. Done poorly, it can be a huge expense with minimal return.

A man stacking building blocks.

After managing millions of dollars in ad spend we’ve learned that one of the most critical components to account success is managing campaigns to an efficient ROI. It’s our favorite and most telling metric. Understanding ROI from your paid digital advertising campaigns means tracking leads from click to close and measuring revenue on a per-channel (or campaign) basis.

When you understand which campaigns and channels are actually generating revenue, you’ll know where you’re making or losing money and have a powerful data set to share with your fellow executives and investors.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to invest in PPC for the long-term and learn about the unlimited opportunity to maximize your ROI.

How to identify an ROI target

When it comes to maximizing your results with PPC, the first step is to identify an ROI target. While this can be difficult to track, it’s one of the most important KPIs for your business and advertising health.

How do you determine an ROI target for your PPC efforts? Here’s how we do it:

(Sales – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = ROI

So, if a PPC campaign generated $1,000 sales and the PPC campaign cost $100, then the campaign ROI is 900%.

($1000-$100) / $100 = 900%

While this doesn’t account for Lifetime Value (LTV), it’s still one of the most important metrics for you to track so you can make informed budget decisions.

How to invest in and evaluate your PPC to yield the highest ROI

Now that you’ve set an ROI target, the next step is to evaluate your performance based on ROI. It seems simple yet too often companies come to us after running PPC campaigns with uncertain feelings as to whether or not it’s working. If your PPC reporting looks like the below screenshot, it’s bad and good. Bad because you’re missing an opportunity to be more data-informed but good because we can work on it.

A screenshot from a PPC report demonstrating ROI.

Instead of just looking at top of the funnel metrics like reach or clicks shown in the report above, once you have your ROI targets, we monitor results and evaluate performance based on ROI.

The cadence of your reports should be determined on your lead-to-close time. For example, if you typically close a lead in a 7 day window, you might look to do weekly reporting. We’ve also worked with clients with longer lead-to-close times, as long as an average of 3 months. In cases like this, you might look to do quarterly evaluations.

With ROI reporting, we track the following metrics at the account level:

  • Spend
  • Traffic
  • Sales
  • Cost Per Visitor
  • Sales Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per Sale
  • ROI

The biggest mistake most businesses make when investing in PPC

Our most successful PPC clients also focus on retention. Rather than putting their entire budget into the upfront traffic drivers and then hoping their leads will turn into profitable clients over time, they apply proven customer retention strategiesthat lead to high ROI on their PPC investments.

Before launching your PPC efforts make sure your retention plan is solid. It’s hard to have the foresight to plan for every bump a customer might run into but making sure your team is empowered to spring into action on the customer’s behalf is critical. You’ll end up wasting time and money if the clicks you acquire through PPC don’t stick around.

To share an example, we have an existing client that consistently generates 100 leads per month from Adwords. We’ve been working with their team closely on PPC for over 15 months. In Q1 of 2018, we saw average returns  – for every $1 we spent, the business made $2. We spent $40,000 each month and we got $80,000 each month in return. While this was positive, our other marketing channels were operating at a 3:1 return. By the end of March, we were so unsatisfied with our gains that we almost walked away from Adwords and Bing completely.

In May, we tried something new and it changed the situation completely. Instead of focusing on the click, or PPC channel, we dug deeper on the post-click. Asking, once we get a user to the site, how do we get them to convert? Once we get a user to call us, how do we close the sale? We listened to over 200 phone calls and found that certain sales reps were more successful with internet leads than others. We rerouted the PPC calls to a specific group of sales reps and within 30 days our ROI when from 2:1 to 7:1. We spent the same budget, generated the same amount of monthly leads, but increased revenue by 600%.

Why thinking long-term yields the greatest returns

In this blog post, we’ve talked a lot about ROI and managing your PPC accounts to an accountable ROI target. While a high return is generally the key goal for your PPC efforts as a whole, picking a metric that’s relevant to your campaign objective is equally important.

For example, one of our clients is actively advertising on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Adwords. We use these channels in a comprehensive cross-channel PPC effort to funnel customers through the path-to-purchase.

When it comes to YouTube, we use this channel to strengthen brand awareness and open up the funnel to as many potential people as possible. Because of this, we evaluate our YouTube campaigns based on reach and impression metrics, rather than ROI. We then use Facebook and Instagram to retarget video viewers and drive as much quality traffic to the site as possible. We evaluate these campaigns by click metrics. Last but not least, we then use a combination of Adwords and Bing campaign types to drive sales. Our collective PPC efforts – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Adwords – are then evaluated by an ROI target.

From plug-in equations to determine your ROI to higher level strategy focused on customer retention, PPC is a powerful and important digital marketing tool. Empowered with data, you can learn how to yield the highest PPC ROI for your campaigns.

Free Growth Strategy Session

Our team at Tuff loves helping people learn and use these tools. If you ever have any questions or new strategies you’re looking to explore, join us for a free growth strategy session.

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Top 5 Common PPC Questions Our Paid Acquisition Expert Answers

Running paid ads on Google, Facebook, and various other paid platforms is often new and exciting to any business owner looking to crack into new sources of leads. In my role as a Paid Advertising Specialist at Tuff, I partner with CMOs and business owners and get the opportunity to answer their initial questions when getting started. Here are the most common PPC questions and responses to those questions.

Let’s dive in!

1. Is PPC right for my business?

This is a big one, the most high level of common PPC questions. Owners and entrepreneurs have seen ads all over the internet and usually have fair concerns about the validity and effectiveness of them. I look to a few specific things to answer this question:

What industry are you in?

The type of business you operate is of big concern to me. If you are a niche business with no competition and Keyword traffic, PPC is a great fit for you. If you are a brand new Real Estate Investor in a crowded NYC market that has a ton of expensive competition, PPC would be a tough nut to crack. Usually clients fall somewhere in the middle and it’s my job to find the sweet spot in the market space.

Do you have systems in place to handle leads?

It’s not a great experience for potential customers if there isn’t a sales funnel or process in place to convert this new channel of incoming leads. It’s important to ask yourself, does my business have a reliable CRM? Will my business be able to provide a reasonable amount of creative flexibility with landing pages to test new traffic? Do we have a reliable IT process?

How much traffic is out there for you?

This might be the most important starter question. I always check if there is enough traffic out there looking for exactly what your business does, using Keyword tools like Keyword Planner, and SpyFu. Bottom line, if there’s not enough traffic PPC might not be the answer. Traffic doesn’t just mean Keyword impressions, it could also include audience groupings for display, youtube, facebook, etc. If there aren’t market segments that exist already, you would essentially be creating a market, and for a lot of business owners the capital to do that is limiting.

2. How much should I spend?

This usually comes on the heels of agreeing that PPC is right for you. Now, it’s time for me to align PPC expectations:

What are your goals?

There is a big difference between looking for engagement to drive leads and looking to drive sales of a very expensive online item through paid ads. This question is an opportunity for me to set realistic expectations based on experience and traffic estimates. This is also a great time to be more specific about how we plan to turn cold traffic into warm traffic through blogs, white papers, videos, etc. This is where an experienced PPC manager will explain that turning extremely cold traffic into a sale through one ad and landing page might be too big of an ask.

What is the lifetime value of your customers?

The lifetime value of your customer is an important metric to track. This metric should be ingrained within the decisions you make about balancing your own books. Knowing the lifetime value also helps a PPC manager assess how much we should spend to get a lead and customer or sale through the paid advertising.

Knowing these two things helps me set a baseline budget for testing and makes sure I’m optimizing my campaigns against the right ROI targets.

3. What will I get in return?

So, we’ve decided PPC is right for you and set a budget for testing. Then, we dive into some more questions:

What are you hoping to get in return?

When it comes to maximizing your results with PPC, the first step is to identify an ROI target. While this can be difficult to track, it’s one of the most important KPIs for your business and advertising health. During this stage, I work with you to set reasonable lead and ROI targets.

What are your historic conversion rates from traffic to lead?

This is a necessary metric to know as a PPC manager. With these historic numbers, I can set a baseline for your PPC performance. If conversion rates are too low based on PPC traffic, your targeting isn’t hot enough.

What are your historic conversion rates from Lead to Sale?

Similar to above, this metric is important to grade the continuity of your marketing efforts from ad to sale. If you are getting a ton of leads but no sales, a) your ads aren’t in line with the messaging on site, or b) the site in general isn’t great at converting colder traffic. As an end-to-end growth agency, we love analyzing if it’s a or b and can help optimize either.

With all the above, you can forecast some average conversion rates and some very conservative numbers on what you can expect from the PPC efforts.

4. What platforms should I be on?

This is where we breakdown the platforms for our clients and help them select the right channels to reach their goals. As a general rule, if the objective is brand awareness, we’ll typically start with Facebook, Instagram, or Pre-Roll YouTube ads. Video is an excellent ad format when it comes to reach and impressions, so we’ll often push for this type of creative asset to maximize brand lift.

If you’re bootstrapped and on budget looking to drive leads, conversions, or sales, we often launch search campaigns on Google and Bing knowing these might be more expensive clicks, but should convert at a higher rate than other platforms since users are actively searching for a solution or product. In other words, the search intent is higher.

Selecting the right platform to reach your objectives is one of the single most important pieces of the strategy phase. And, in the ideal world, we leverage a handful of PPC channels to reach potential customers at every stage of the buyer funnel – from awareness, consideration, and conversion with a variety of ad formats and retargeting.

(ellen to create visual)

5. I see my competition all over the internet. How can I do that?

You’re right to think that way. If your competition is doing it they’re taking money off the table. We like to investigate a little further with this common PPC question:

Is copying your competition best? (Think USP)

Any PPC manager should remind you that copying the competition isn’t always the best strategy. Maybe they’re doing a great job and you can borrow a thing or two, but ultimately, they are separate businesses with separate Unique Selling Propositions that should be built into the ads.

Are they bidding on your brand?

If competition is bidding on your brand terms you should 100% get into the game. That other business is stealing business from you, bottom line. From personal experience, businesses have had shut their doors because other digital marketers have cannibalized their brand terms online.

Are they across all platforms?

This is great to research because it can yield opportunities for an account manager. What if a business is slaying it on Amazon but not on Google? What if a huge brand is owning Google but not on Bing, and that competitor can bid on their brand terms? What if none of them are on FB?

Over to you…

What questions do you have about PPC that we might have missed? For more help with your questions feel free to reach out to Tuff! We’d be happy to review an existing account. Sign up for a free growth strategy session with Tuff today.

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How Good is Your Paid Advertising, Really?

How does your paid advertising stack up, compared to your competitors? Where does it fall compared to other businesses where your customers spend money?

Whether you’re doing PPC for the first time or your company has been running campaigns for years, it can be daunting to know whether or not you’re doing a good job. In fact, benchmarking your paid advertising against other companies can be more complicated than measuring the results of your own efforts.

A man looking at a map

Here’s a simple 3-step process for creating your benchmarking report:

1. Understand the metrics that matter most

Earlier this year, Wordstream dug into their clients PPC data and compiled Google AdWords benchmarks across 20 different industries.

They evaluated their accounts based on the following metrics:

  • Average Click-Through Rate (CTR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Conversion Rate (CVR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Action (CPA) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
A Google AdWords benchmark report with CTR, Avg. CPC, Conv. rate, and Cost / all conv.

These metrics vary depending on industry. A useful metric for one industry isn’t necessarily helpful for another. What’s important is that you don’t need to compare every possible metric. With the four metrics above, you’ll have a good sense of what is working and what isn’t and how you can improve.

2. Collect data

Now that you have target metrics for your industries paid advertising, the next step is the execute your campaigns. Once you’ve hit “enable”, your campaigns will start running and the data will begin to populate in your account.

2-30-day-view.png#asset:207

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on at least 30 days. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your evaluation to be statistically relevant.

3. Analyze the results

At this stage, you’ll map your internal scores for the same metrics against your collected data. Where are you doing well? Where are you falling behind? What smart ideas can you quickly implement? How can you improve?

Let’s look at two different Tuff client accounts and walk through different ways you can analyze and understand your results.

eCommerce

Tuff has been partnering with a high-end jeweler in the US for over 2 years. Working closely with their marketing team, we manage their paid advertising for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Bing, and Adwords, spending around $150,000 per month in media allocations.

In the chart below, we’ve compared their Q1 Search Performance with the industry average. Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

A chart benchmarking CTR, CPC, CVR, and CPA

Ah, so much red (my first reaction)!! Let’s review…

CTR: We’re only slightly above the average on CTR which made this feel like a key opportunity to improve. Using this info, we sorted our ads from top performing to lowest performing. We kept our top 50% and generated a new set of ads to replace to lower CTR ads. We also layered on two new ad formats: Call Only Ads and Responsive Search Ads.

CPC: Our cost per click is higher than average so we can tackle this in a few ways. We started by asking two fundamental questions: Can we identify keywords that have a high number of impressions and clicks, but zero conversions, orders, or sales? If so, let’s kill them. And can we use more restrictive match types (modified broad and exact) to filter out unqualified traffic? If so, let’s tighten up our match types so we can eliminate waste.

CVR: For now, no action items within the account. We’ll continue to monitor and tackle this next benchmark report.

CTA: This is one of our favorite metrics. How much did it cost you to acquire a lead, sale, conversion? This account has 56 search campaigns with a different CPA for each. We know exactly how many leads we need to convert a sale and what are ROI targets are at each campaign. Compared to the industry we’re $18.57 above average. However, we know that our products, at a higher price point than traditional eCommerce, still have a positive return. Since the campaigns are still very profitable at a $63.84 CPA, this metric isn’t super concerning. That said, one way to get this down would be to consider offering a promotion or deal with our retargeting efforts on display. This won’t lower the Search CPA, but it should help increase post-view conversions from Search.  

B2B

Here’s another example from one of our B2B clients. This company is relatively new to the market but growing fast in the small business bookkeeping and accounting space. We manage their paid advertising for both Facebook and Adwords, allocating 20k per month across both channels.

In the chart below, we’ve compared their Q1 Search Performance with the industry average. Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

A chart benchmarking CTR, CPC, CVR, and CPA

CTR: Nice! We’re up significantly here. This could mean that our positioning is relevant and unique to our competition in the space. While we didn’t make any adjustments to the ads in this account, we did pull the top performing ads for the entire marketing team so that we could leverage that positioning in other channels such as email, Facebook, Instagram, and landing pages.

CPC: We’re spending 3x more than the industry average on clicks, so it was important to dig in here. The first thing we did was look at our keyword position and the required minimum bid to stay on the first page of results. The keywords in this industry are expensive and in order to stay in the top 3 positions, not the first but an average of 2, we had to bid pretty high. The account quality score is high, so we know that spend is one of the best ways to keep us on page 1. One of the tools we use to see keyword bid trends is Google’s Keyword Planner. We use this before we launch campaigns and during optimization so we know an estimate on what things will cost.

CVR: Wow! Big high five to our client on creating high-converting landing pages. While there were no direct actions to take on this one, we did analyze which campaigns had the highest and lowest conversion rates. For any campaigns that we’re budget capped and converting at a high-rate, we increased budget.

CTA: Over by $5 and working to bring this down. Since this is an average and the account has 31 search campaigns, can we identify any campaigns that are 2x over the CPA average? If so, how do we bring them down? This benchmark was helpful in understanding which campaigns we need to focus on the most to see the most significant change in results.

Key takeaways:

  • Use the data to understand your account metrics but not to shut things down immediately if you don’t hit it out of the park on your first swing. As you can see from our eCommerce example, things look pretty red. The benchmark report gives you a chance to identify focus areas and improve.
  • Understand where you fall on the industry paid advertising spectrum. These benchmarks are averages, and it’s important to know where you fall on the spectrum. In our eCommerce example, the average product price is $10,000. This account sees very different results than a lower price product account.
  • Benchmarks give you a place to focus but aren’t the only indicator of success or failure. We always go back to one key metric: ROI. When you understand which campaigns and channels are actually generating revenue, you’ll know where you’re making or losing money and how to move forward.

Over to you! 

We’re excited to share our strategies, open up conversations on PPC and learn all together. What benchmarking strategies do you lean on when looking to evaluate results?

If you’re short on capacity, you can get some of the benefit of benchmarking with significantly less effort by contacting Tuff for a free growth strategy session. We’ll analyze your paid advertising and present your top growth opportunities in a PDF.