Google Data Studio Perfected for KPI Reporting

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Google Data Studio KPI dashboards help clients view multiple reports and a wide range of data in one location. They allow for true visibility into account and campaign performance and show how the SalesX® account optimizations are performing. These reports capture near real time (refreshed every hour) data from Google Ads, Bing, Google Analytics and custom scripts.

The reports start with high level KPI data - spend, KPI goals and the changes that have occurred in the account. This gives clients a quick look into progress and success of the account with a quick glance. The first page also includes allocation and recent projects that the SalesX® team has worked on. Below the fold, the page shows recording breaking dates for CTR, conversions and CPA / ROAS. Finally, the report’s first page shows possible errors which are monitored by scripts, with SalesX® often notified before Google or the client is notified.

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Diving into the second page is Google Ads performance, high level data on the top campaigns and device breakdown. Clients can review impressions, clicks, CTR, conversions and CPC. Specific campaigns can be chosen and the date range can be modified to show specific time frames, allowing clients to see campaign trends.

Since customer interactions are insightful and vital to understanding our clients needs, the third page of this report shows Google Analytics data - users, sessions, page views, locations and the media driving traffic. This allows clients that ability to review Google Ads and GA data in the same report.

Pages four and five are labeled ORCA and they provide additional insight into some of the areas where we optimize the account. These pages show information on the day of the week, time of day, device, gender, etc. It helps show how the performance of the account can be adjusted with bid modifications to help the account perform.

Our Alpha/Beta process, X-Alphas®, is one of the key factors to our clients success and the difference in these campaigns can be seen on page five. Comparing the key indicators in the campaigns help show the success of the Alpha campaigns. The Alpha campaigns have increased CTR, conversions, conversion rates, higher ROAS,  lower CPA and a better avg. CPCs.

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The final page of our report shows Google’s Auction Insights from the client account. The auction insights report lets them compare their performance with other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions that they are in. This information can help determine bids/budgets and potential missed opportunities in that account. The auction insights report shows impression share, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, and outranking share.

At SalesX® each client receives its own custom Google Data Studio report that is curated to fit their needs. These reports can also show custom Google Analytics data as well as data from other platforms such as Bing and Facebook.


Is Your Digital Marketing Agency Making You A Hero?

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Key Points: Your campaign’s performance analysis must align with your company’s standards for measuring metrics. To achieve such alignment, your agency requires three specific masteries, as described in this article.

Cultivating Digital Marketing Agency Best Practices

It’s Friday afternoon. You and your colleagues are gathered in the boardroom. Your latest digital ad campaign has far exceeded expectations. Consequently, you’ve received a raise, and your fellow execs are relishing the accolades they’ve been showered with. Pop open the champagne!

A dream scenario? Actually, it can be your reality -- provided the following factors are in place:

  • Your agency is finding and maximizing new channels of advertising that systematically impact key business value areas of your enterprise.

  • Advertising successes are aligned to how your company measures its metrics, thus keeping you on top of your campaign’s performance.

Alignment Generates Transparency — and Increased Accountability

Performance and metrics alignment results in transparency and greater accountability: The digital advertising is on the hook to perform, while your company must maximize the results of that performance by having internal processes ready to receive and interpret the data from that digital effort.

What Alignment Looks Like

Let’s say your company is a services company with 200 locations. You measure success for each individual location by assessing new client acquisition growth weekly, year over year.

Your analysis might address new client acquisition results on week 17 of 2018 vs. week 17 of 2019. Was there growth? If there was, what was the percentage of growth for each branch of your 200-branch services company? Comparing last week’s results with your year-to-date results, are you on track to meet your annual number -- and to distribute bonuses to stakeholders in your company?

If that is how success is being measured inside your company, then your digital advertising should be measured the same way. The tools and methods to achieve this are readily available. The onus then is on your agency to have the skills to provide you with the data the way that you want to receive it.

Simply put, your agency must respond to your needs in the specific ways you’ve communicated to them.

23,000 Options For Achieving Campaign Success

How can your agency best meet your needs? Well, therein lies the beauty of digital advertising. For example, Google Ads alone has 47+ different features that can be leveraged in accordance to needs.

Further, there are at least 26 common areas that require monitoring and adjustments on a routine basis to ensure your campaign is up and running with optimal effectiveness (these were previously published in the SalesX ORCA Checklist).

There are also 19 different business performance value areas (a.k.a. Business Value Dials as identified by Intel Corp) that you can measure internally. Some examples of these are the obvious Direct Income, and the less obvious opportunities for Cross Selling, Upselling, Opening New Markets, reducing your Time To Market, Maximizing Existing Markets, Increasing Inventory Turnover, Reducing Returns, etc.

Thus, when you multiply those elements together, you have over 23,000 options (47x26x19=23,218) for making your campaigns run in the most effective way. Your agency’s responsibility is to find the right combination.

Three Requisite Agency Masteries

Technical Mastery

Technical Mastery

From a technical perspective, a proven way to gain mastery is to continuously test, have the ability to analyze results and to execute changes based on the findings of those tests, en masse. While it is easy to claim continuous testing, the key is to routinely and rapidly analyze the results and to execute action based on those results. Granted, that is easier said than done, unless your agency has expert PPC obsessors whose DNA includes the continuous testing and execution cycle.

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Business Implications Mastery

For the business side, the next step is to tie results back to business value. That’s where the executives of your agency must have veteran-level business experience that enables them to educate you about the nuances of digital advertising -- and to collaborate with you so that measurable business value relates back to campaign results.

For example, a company with 50 branches decided to discontinue their ineffective TV advertising in favor of doing digital ads. The goal was to capture prospects who were likely to tour their locations and sign up. Surprisingly, they soon discovered that despite the increased prospect sign-ups, the ratio of no-shows for the tour had actually spiked, thus giving the impression that the digital ad sign-ups were less effective that the ones acquired through the TV ads.

However, upon further exploration, we found out that the company’s internal processes did not include reminder emails, calls or text messages. Subsequently, we coached the company about the nature of digital leads and the necessity to employ follow-up emails and texts right up to the tour date/hour.

With the above corrections in place, the issue was resolved and the increased leads were accompanied with a corresponding increase in the tour and sign-up numbers. This was a matter of helping the company understand the nature of digital leads, and to provide them with guidance about using best practices to adjust for those nuances in order to maximize results.

Transparent Reporting Mastery

As to reporting and transparency, your agency should be showing you the results that are being achieved and the level of effort that is being applied. For instance, an e-commerce company might have 150 different categories and hundreds of thousands of keywords they are targeting. Their agency should, in real time, provide the following current and historical data:

  • The status of all primary and secondary KPIs

  • Recent projects and time allocations with the ongoing work that is being done for them

  • Spend allocation by channel

  • Record breaking dates and trends

  • Possible account errors and flags

  • Click through rates, impressions, conversions and value, costs, top campaigns and device breakdowns

  • Sessions trends and top performing geo locations and hours

  • Channels driving unique purchases

Maximizing Value From Your Digital Advertising

Digital advertising can -- and should -- be leveraged to impact the entire length and breadth of your opportunity funnel. However, your agency needs astute technical chops, real life business experience, and the ability to program for innovative data measurement that matches your business needs. If they have those three foundational elements -- and can quickly identify and remedy any gaps in your business processes to ensure seamless matching to your digital opportunities -- extraordinary results will be inevitable. This positive result is captured in the The Upward Funnel of Business Value Maximization illustrated below:

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Keyword, You're a Loser! Separating Winners and Losers in Googles Ads with X-Alphas® Script

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Within an online campaign, the holy trinity would be stability, predictability and account manageability. How can you create an account that is exceptionally stable, predictable and manageable in a world of changes happening every second?

The Greatest PPC Search Stability Problem

The most significant problem within search campaigns when creating stability is the ability to judge if a keyword is a loser or a winner.  Within these keywords, you have four match types that we rank here based on stability:

  1. Exact match

  2. Phrase match

  3. Broad match modified

  4. Broad match

The more exact match keywords you have within your Google Ads Search account, the more stable and predictable is your account. Although exact match is exceptionally stable, the drawback is keyword growth/exploration. It's unfavorable to have an account that only has exact match keywords leading you to 0% keyword expansion. To compensate for the exploratory issues of exact match we also keep phrase match and broad match modified keywords in the exploratory (Beta) campaigns. Beta campaigns allow for us to keep exploring new valuable keywords all while controlling the overall spend for keyword exploration.

Why SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups) Aren’t Typically the Solution

The key is having stability and predictability while keeping everything manageable. SKAGS should be used in particular cases only.  One of these use cases would be using the top converting keywords and converting them into SKAGs. SKAGing the entire account gives you the ability to have exceptional control, but you also lose lots of predictability which would come from grouping similar keywords in one particular ad group to acquire data much faster.

Let’s say you have an account with 5,000 keywords with 5,000 clicks per month. If you choose the SKAG route, then you have 5,000 ad groups with 10,000 ads being a/b tested. For a single account manager to test 10,000 ads will be a feat in its own, but you also have to deal with massive data segmentation.  The ad group to click ratio at 1:1 leaves you with massive predictability loss. The loss in predictability is why SKAGs must be used sparingly and with keywords that are highly important and have large volumes.

X-Alphas® Solution to separating winners from the rest

Through years and hundreds of millions of dollars of testing at SalesX®, we have found X-Alphas® to be the ultimate solution for providing stability and predictability, all while remaining manageable. With SalesX’s X-Alphas® process we keep the exploratory keywords as stable as possible by segmenting them into a specified Beta campaign. We run our ORCA™ (Optimization Recurring Checklist for Ads) process weekly which adds all negative search terms within the SERP report along with bid adjustments and ad testing thus creating the most stable exploratory environment possible.

Once a keyword within the Beta campaign produces a conversion, the converted search term is then sent for approval to the account manager to be pushed into its respective Alpha campaign. The Alpha campaign then becomes 100% exact match, with 100% converted keywords in the past. To avoid losing any predictability we also import the converted term to its respective ad group relative to the Beta campaign.

The X-Alphas® process leads to a cleaner text ad a/b test, extremely stable campaign, and highly predictable results.

Benefits of X-Alphas®

  1. Account Stability

  2. Account Predictability

  3. Manageable Account

  4. Manageable Growth

  5. Great for Limited Budgets

  6. Great for Quality Score and Massive CTR Improvement

Google Images Search For Shopping?

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Google Images has always been an important part of the search options, whether you are looking for Cat in the Hat images for Dr Suess’s birthday (March 2, 1904), or trying to find that part on your refrigerator that is leaking.  Google Images is a place people go to search for all kinds of information and since people are visual creatures by nature, it only makes sense that is included in the Google Search Network. Google started including the Shopping ads in the Google Image results as a beta in 2016.  There have been different variations, but currently, the Shopping ads in image searches appear at the top of the page with the word sponsored in the left corner.

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While Google has been testing different versions of these Shopping ads since 2016, this was only an option, if you opted-in to search partners.  Google is now making a change and these ads will be part of the Search Network. If you were opted into the Search Partner Network, you will see a decrease in traffic and an increase in traffic from the Search Network.

Impact of google shopping ads in Google images results

How will this change affect online retailers who are running shopping ads?  Now that Google Images is part of the Search Network (which includes Google Search, Google Play, Google Shopping and Google Maps) we can expect an increase in increase in impressions, clicks and spend.

This new change will give clients more visibility, but in a different area, instead of a traditional SERP with text ads and organic listings, in the Image Search, clients ads will show against other images.  It will be interesting to see how this will affect pricing and conversion rates. Google is estimating a 3-10% increase in traffic with lower CPC and conversion rates

It will be important to watch this new change unfold to see how it affects shopping campaigns.









X-Octane® - Custom Google AdWords Script by SalesX®

 
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Agency benefits + In-house level attention: How to get the best of both worlds when setting strategy and overseeing performance for AdWords

Companies hire agencies to manage their Google Ads campaigns because they want and need the skills, experience, systems, and tools that agencies have to offer. Other companies have in-house account managers because they want someone to watch their account closely throughout the day, every day.

While working with an agency has its distinct and irrefutable benefits, it can also take some getting used to because while an agency brings a lot more resources to the table, the allocation of those resources to any given account can be far less than having a full time person on staff for each type of task. This has been an age old problem, until now.

Difficulty in Continuously Monitoring Performance in AdWords

Traditionally agency account managers monitor the performance of their accounts and as long as KPIs are being met they keep their focus on new and upcoming projects. When something looks off or an account is having a particularly challenging day they might look into making changes to it or to give it another day and see if it’s a fluke that will right itself.

The other thing that happens is that account managers check Analytics for spikes or dips in performance then go back and try to figure out what might have caused those spikes or dips. Yet invariably this will be after the fact and too late to do anything about it in a proactive manner.

These types of behaviors are typical because AdWords is an auction environment with changing conditions and it’s unwise to jump to conclusions based on any given day’s data. Yet this is also the reason as to why extraordinary days aren’t being modeled immediately and why awful days aren’t being stymied instantly. This is also why while the KPI of an account might look fine today, in a few days it might suddenly tank because of various factors that cause lag in seeing the results in AdWords.

Leveraging AdWords hourly data for quick wins and fast stop losses

One way we’ve solved this problem at SalesX® is via a custom AdWords script we call X-Octane®. Using X-Octane® we check each of our account’s performances automatically every hour, compare it to several other performance metrics, and flag whether the account is over performing, underperforming, or is running on par with expectations. We are able to tell how the account is doing compared to the last 7 days, compared to the last 14 days, whether the account is meeting or exceeding KPIs and by what percentage, and how the account is running based on the expected pace for the month, i.e., how much room do we have to accelerate based on the current positive conditions.

X-Octane® allows us to monitor every one of our accounts under management every hour and see actionable trends that lead to micro wins or micro stop-losses. These micro-trends then compound for macro wins at the end of the month and/or setback averted.

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In the above example, an actual SalesX® account, on the surface looked like it was doing great, however X-Octane® noticed that while the past 14 days performance was above KPI (108%), the account had been trending downwards and the last 7 days performance was actually lowering the account performance down to 74% of KPI goal for that week. This real time information allowed us to make some adjustments to the account and monitor their impact via X-Octane® seeing that the performance for the day was registering at 118% of KPI, reversing the downward trend, and keeping the overall KPI at 107%.

AdWords Performance via full time attention plus agency expertise

X-Octane® is an example of how smart AdWords scripts automation combinations can yield an optimal performance environment in day-to-day monitoring and management of Google AdWords accounts. While this is just a single example of such scripts usage as one would find in the X-Vault® it demonstrates that even this sole functionality bridges a gap that has previously eluded most advertisers and agencies. I.e., it has enabled the ability to monitor, compare, flag, and adjust account performance every hour, on every account, every day.

Just How Important is a Fast Site on Mobile - Google Let's You Know with Their Scorecard

One tool shows how a site stacks up against the competition on mobile. The other aims to drive home the impact mobile speed can have on the bottom line.

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Google has focused on getting marketers and site owners to improve mobile site experiences for many years now. On Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the search giant the release of two new mobile benchmarking resources to help in this effort: a new Mobile Scorecard and a conversion Impact Calculator.

Both tools aim to give marketers clear visuals to help them get buy-in from stakeholders for investments in mobile site speed.

The Mobile Scorecard taps Chrome User Experience Report data to compare the speed of multiple sites on mobile. That’s the same database of latency data from Chrome users that Google started using in its PageSpeed Insights Tool in January. Google says the Mobile Scorecard can report on thousands of sites from 12 countries.

As a guideline, Google recommends that a site loads and becomes usable within five seconds on mid-range mobile devices with 3G connections and within three seconds on 4G connections.

To put the Mobile Scorecard data into monetary perspective for stakeholders, the new Impact Calculator is designed to show just how much conversion revenue a site is missing out on because of its slow loading speed.

The conversion Impact Calculator is based on data from The State of Online Retail Performance report from April 2017 that showed each second of delay in page load on a retail site can hurt conversions by up to 20 percent.

The calculator shows how a change in page load can drive revenue up or down after marketers put in their average monthly visitors, average order value and conversion rate. Google created a similar tool for publishers called DoubleClick Publisher Revenue Calculator.

The Mobile Scorecard and the Impact Calculator can be both be accessed here.

Be sure to read the article in its entirety on Search Engine Land.

 

How to Build a Stronger, More Effective PPC Team

 
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Contributor Frederick Vallaeys believes the PPC professionals with the strongest knowledge of paid search fundamentals will have the best opportunities for successful campaigns and solid career growth.

I've been doing pay-per-click (PPC) since 1998, when virtually every setting was manual. While it was painful to manage everything by hand, it forced me to learn the ins and outs of PPC, and that helped me build a successful career. 

Today, with automation playing an ever-more-important role in PPC, new account managers don’t have to learn all the fundamentals because tools handle the details. 

But as humans learn how to co-manage accounts with artificial intelligence, I believe that those with the strongest fundamentals will have the best opportunities for career advancement.

Automation erodes expertise

Remember the days when photography was an expensive hobby? Before digital, every time you clicked the shutter, you used another frame of film. To see the result, you’d spend more money to get the roll of film developed and printed. And not only was it expensive, it was also slow, with most labs taking an hour or more to turn the film into a print.

In the pre-digital days of photography, it mattered that you understood how to frame a shot and set the right exposure to get a beautiful photo. If the photo you took didn’t look amazing, there was very little you could do easily and cheaply to turn it into a masterpiece.

Compare that to today, where everyone has a decent camera on their smartphone and hobbyists have mirrorless cameras that can shoot 60 frames per second. Results are instantaneous, and all the computing power in the camera almost guarantees correct focus and exposure.

In PPC, where Google is pushing really hard to automate as much account management as possible, we run the risk that new PPC professionals will grow up in an era where they do nothing manually and never learn the fundamentals.

When the machine learns too slowly, results suffer

So, why does it matter if the person you hire to manage your AdWords doesn’t know the fundamentals? Even my 4-year old takes great photos, after all. But there is a key difference between taking photos without knowing what an f-stop is and running an AdWords account without knowing how a cost per click (CPC) is calculated.

With photography, we can take shots with ten different exposures in one second, knowing that at least one would be great. It costs nothing to throw away the nine bad photos, but if we’re lazy as account managers and we do nine pointless experiments in AdWords, those clicks cost real money.

I’ve made the point before that testing the right things is what will set great agencies apart from mediocre ones. In PPC, that means that fundamentals still matter so that you can set up a reasonable test that gets as much as possible right, leaving fewer variables to test. This helps find winning tests more quickly, and that can make a huge impact.

When humans rely too much on machine learning, we run into the following issue. Google doesn’t care if it takes ten clicks before their bidding model starts to make good predictions; they still make money on every one of those clicks. 

But advertisers should and do care about the amount of investment required to get to a stable situation where machines deliver predictably good results. This matters even more for small companies that may not have the cash flow to wait it out.

The more humans can help machines go in the right direction, the more money is saved and the happier the advertiser will ultimately be. Doing all that requires knowing the fundamentals.

Be sure to read the entire article on Search Engine Land.

 

Use Feed Analysis to Build AdWords Shopping Campaigns

 
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Shopping campaigns are set up very differently from search campaigns in AdWords. The biggest difference is that technically your entire feed is part of each ad group in your shopping campaign. 

Unlike search campaigns where you choose the keywords that should be targeted, in shopping it is specifying what you don’t want to target and bid on separately. This is the reason that when you set up a shopping campaign in AdWords it starts off with one ad group and product group (All Products) which shows ads for all products in the feed. It also means that every product in the feed will have the same bid and it doesn’t matter if it costs $10 or $300.

Having the same bid for products that have a varying price point is not a good strategy and will result in low ROAS. This is because you will invest less in big ticket items which will most likely result in lower returns. To avoid this, it is recommended to create separate product groups for different products and set different bids. Deciding on the structure for your shopping campaign depends a lot on how you want to monitor and manage performance. The new Shopping Feed Analysis feature in the Shopping Campaign Builder gives you the additional layer of data you need to have the most accurate product group structure based on the data available in your feed. Before we get into the details of this feature, let's talk a bit more about campaign structure.

You Can Read the Full Article from GEETANJALI TYAGI on Optymzr published February 5th, 2018

The Technology Behind AI in PPC

 
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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time, so why are we only just now exploring its applications for PPC?

Columnist Frederick Vallaeys explains the technology, its evolution in recent years, and what's next for AI in paid search.

What exponential growth means for PPC

So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.

Build your own PPC intelligence

There are a lot of tools available to automate your PPC work, and multiple third-party vendors are starting to use AI and ML to provide stronger recommendations. But there are also many free tools from AdWords that are getting better every day thanks to advances in AI, like Portfolio Bid Strategies, Custom Intent Audiences, optimized ad rotation, etc.

For those willing to invest in connecting their own business data to AdWords and AI, I’m a big fan of prototyping solutions with AdWords Scripts because they provide a lot of customizability without requiring a lot of engineering resources. Unfortunately, simple scripts you write will fall into the weakest category of AI, where PPC intelligence is achieved through hard-coded rules.

But when you get a bit more advanced in your scripting abilities, you can use Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to start enhancing your own automations with modern machine learning techniques.

The benefit of an out-of-the box solution like this is that you don’t need to learn many types of different models. But that’s also the downside because you won’t get total control over how you set criteria and thresholds to get results that are usable. Our team at Optmyzr tried several ready-made systems but eventually decided that we needed more power — so we’re building our own AI.

You Can Read the Full Article Written by Frederick Vallaeys published on Search Engine Land Jan 17, 2018

Price Extensions Training: Learn All About the Newest AdWords Ad Extension

Price extensions are the latest rollout of ad extensions, additional pieces of information the extend your text ad. Read this article to learn all about how to set them up and apply the best practices to get bang for your buck.

Google Grant Program - The Definitive AdWords Guide for Nonprofits

Google generously offers nonprofits the Google AdWords grant program, allowing organizations to use up to $10,000 in Google's own advertising dollars. Learn how to sign up for this program and learn about the best practices from this definitive guide for nonprofit advertiers.

Custom Columns Tutorial: Learn How to Create Custom Columns in AdWords

In addition to the pre-created range of columns available to be added to the AdWords reporting table, custom columns puts advertisers in the driving seat to select and report on only specific variables with specific metrics.

Attribution Modeling Training - Learn How to Measure Beyond Last Clicks in AdWords

Attribution by definition concerns who or what gets the credit for the results. In the realm of PPC and digital advertising, this is referring to what is the cause of the results such as sales or new service leads.