Google AdWords: make your campaign the best it can be!

adwords-logoOnline advertising is crucial to every business and it’s a great way to show your ads to those people that are likely to be in your target market, and thus potentially be interested in your product or service. It’s also a great way to achieve the basic goal of just increasing your brand awareness. Online advertising doesn’t just have to be done through a computer or laptop, it can work across all platforms that run the internet, including smartphones and tablets. Using Google AdWords can be a useful tool that can help you with all of your online advertising.

The benefits of AdWords include…

  1. Target Your Ads: you want to show your ads to the specific people that will actually care about your product or service, not just the general population. Ways to do this targeting include using the correct keywords, having the right location for your ads, having the right demographics of your target market, showing your ads at the right time of day or day of the week, and showing your ads on the correct devices.
  2. Control Your Costs: Google offers you the flexibility of deciding how much you’d like to spend each month, each day, or for each ad. Theres no minimum, and you can have total control. The only time you pay is when someone actually clicks on your advertisement.
  3. Measure Your Success: Not only can you just see when someone clicks on your ad, you can also track those who make the desired conversion on your landing page. By identifying which ads get lots of clicks and which ones don’t, you can focus on the successful ads and use this to increase your return on investment. You can also use Google Analytics as well to track how long a customer is on your site before they actually make the conversion.
  4. Manage Your Campaign: AdWords offers  you the convenience of being able to manage multiple accounts if you have them. This can help you save time by seeing all of your accounts in one place. Google also offers a downloadable application called AdWords Editor, and through that you can edit your accounts and campaigns offline.

Here’s a clip of what Google AdWords actually looks like!

google-adwords-pic1-l

Google offers 2 different networks for you to display your ad campaign on: the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Different campaign types run on either one of these 2 networks. The Google Search Network consists of not just regular Google Search, but also Maps and Shopping and hundreds of other non-Google partner websites that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Search Network is primarily used to help advertisers show their text ads in a Google search results page, and quickly reach their customers that are searching for their specific product or service. The Display Network consists of several Google Sites (Gmail, Blogger, Youtube…) as well as partner sites, mobile sites, and apps that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Display Network is primarily used to help advertisers use appealing ad display formats, build brand awareness and customer loyalty, increase engagement with customers, and specifically choose where ads show, as well as to who.

It’s also important to understand where Google AdWords will show your advertisements. On the Search Network, keywords play a big role in what search results pages your ad will show up on. These ads can be shown as just regular text ads, or as ads with extensions (visual enhancements to search ads). Display Network ads can be shown as text ads, image ads, rich media ads, and video ads. You can also use the Display Network to show your ads on mobile phones, and these can be either text, image, or video as well, just in a different format to accommodate the mobile device. The quality of your ads is also a determining factor in where your ads will appear on the Google search results page. Your quality score is a score based on how relevant your ads are to the keywords you have set up with them, and your ad rank is the actual ranked position of your advertisement. In my last blog post, Paid Search, I go through the process of how it’s determined what you pay, but in short… You can place a bid among other bidders stating how much you’re willing to pay per click. Google will use this, and your quality score to determine where exactly you’re going to be put on the results page. The actual amount you pay is dependent upon what the lowest bid was – you usually never pay your max amount unless you are the lowest bidder or have the lowest quality.

The main and most important reason to use Google AdWords is to manage and run your ad campaign. If I were to ever work in the field of search engine marketing, I’d use Google AdWords to help clients have the most successful campaigns that they possibly could given the resources there are to work with. Clients can choose to either have a Search Network only campaign, Display Network only campaign, or a Search Network with Display Select campaign. Search Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the sites that are on the Google Search Network. The clients I’d suggest this method for are the advertisers that want to be able to connect with customers right when they’re searching for their products or services. Display Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the Google Display Network. This campaign strategy matches your ads (text, image, video, etc) to websites (like YouTube) and mobile apps that are relevantly related to your content. The clients I’d suggest this campaign method to would be ones that want to increase their brand awareness, especially if they want an image or video accompanying their advertisement. A Search Network with Display Select is probably the best option though, in my opinion. It gives you the best of both campaign options, making sure you hit every mark and increase your chances of being seen by your target audience not only on the Google search results page, but on other relevant websites that are partnered with Google. Managing accounts and different client campaigns is made simple through using My Client Center. This is the place where you can easily keep all of your linked clients campaigns, track performance, manage budgets, and many other activities.

It’s essential to always measure your results for each ad campaign that is run. Understanding the metrics surrounding each campaign will help you decide which ones to continue, which ones to tweak/make better, and which ones to drop entirely. Google Analytics is a great resource to help track how long customers spend on your page before they make a conversion (or if they even do!) By understanding which campaigns of yours have the best and highest conversion rates, you’re able to focus in on those ones while you work to better your other campaigns that might be slacking (use A/B testing!) Always make sure you concentrate on the metrics that are most relevant to your goals whether that be a purchase, a download, donation, etc.

Here’s a great infographic about some cool Google AdWords statistics – showing just how powerful it is for your ad campaigns!

google adwords infographic

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Google Analytics Platform Fundamentals

Google Analytics requires more than just data to work and provide it’s users with an output to analyze… it has 4 components that all work together in order to give Google Analytics users the most “bang for their buck,” if you will. These 4 components are collection, processing, configuration, and reporting. I will discuss why each of these factors are important to making Google Analytics what it is!

First, there is collection. This part of the platform requires you to add Google Analytics coding to your website, mobile app, or other device – this is how GA is able to collect data that is specifically useful to you because you will tell it which interactions to pay attention to and what data to actually collect. Depending which digital environment you want to collect information from, you will either use Java Script or an SDK (software development kit), but both essentially do the same thing, just for different media outlets. GA can record all activity from a user on your website or mobile app and will store this activity as “hits.” Then, the information is sent to Google Analytics for the next steps…

Processing and configuration, steps 2 and 3, go hand in hand with Google Analytics. Processing is taking those hits that were created in the first step, and transforming them based on the settings that you have specified in your configuration. Through your configurations, you can set filters. For example, you can filter out all data and hits gathered from employees (recommended), and that way the data you receive will only be from potential customers. Something very important to know is that when your data has been processed, it’s no longer able to be changed.

The fourth step is reporting. This is where all of the configured and processed data that has been gathered eventually goes, giving GA users the final report and data visualizations. The report is shown as columns of data that first contain values of a dimension with the corresponding metrics in the following columns. When requested, data can be retrieved almost immediately!

Google Analytics uses a data model made up of users, sessions, and interactions, to organize the data collected. The user is the visitor to the website, a session is the time they spent on the website, and an interaction is what the user does during their session. What I find amazing about Google Analytics and this data model is that they can recognize returning users from their multiple sessions over time. This is the same as restaurants recognizing regular customers.

Some things that I found interesting:

  • On a mobile device, when a user uninstalls an app, the SDK deletes that users anonymous identifier. If the user reinstalls the application, they are given a new identifier and are then seen as a new user, instead of a returning user. I feel like this could create duplicated data even though it’s emphasized how the GA data and reports aren’t affected.
  • Google Analytics users are able to track the same user over multiple devices by assigning the same identifying number to each of those devices, rather than a new number for each device.

This blog helped me gain a better understanding of how Google Analytics works for mobile devices. It explains the specific actions taken when you’re on your GA page to find when a user is using a mobile device rather than a computer website, and specified the differences between the “Overview Report” and the “Devices Report.” Mobile optimization is the future of marketing and I believe it’s been proven time and time again that companies who use mobile optimization whether it be through an app or mobile version of their website, have noticed the difference in hits and sales.

Google Analytics can help any and every company find the information they are looking for through the easy 4 step fundamentals that make up the Google Analytics Platform. My real question is why are some companies still choosing NOT to use Google Analytics?

Web Analytics – The Present & Future of Digital Marketing

In just about one week I’ll be taking my test to get certified in Google Analytics, and I won’t even undermine the fact that I’m completely nervous about it. The only things I’ve heard about the GAIQ exam are that it’s intense, long, and daunting, but completely worth it. The importance of being certified in Google Analytics shouldn’t be underestimated, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity I have to become certified and add such an accomplishment to my resume. Not only do I want to pass the GAIQ exam, I want to be able to say I mastered it. This certification is a specific one that I believe will set me apart from other candidates during my internship search for this upcoming summer, and my post-graduation job search as well.

Web Analytics is not only collecting, measuring and analyzing web data, but it’s being able to do something important with that information found. For marketing, it’s the perfect way to provide full integration and understand just where your target market’s media habits are. It also allows businesses to measure the effectiveness of their websites and other media outlets. While reading The Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q2 2014 written by James McCormick, I learned that there is now a trend of much more emphasis on businesses using web analytics and not only the technical, IT department of a company.  For marketing specifically, it holds true that web analytics is where the digital era is at, and any company that implements this practice is ahead of the rest. According to this article, there are 4 core functionality categories that are used to differentiate different Web Analytics Vendors. These include data management and availability, reporting and analysis functionality, integration support, and services and support; each with their own evaluation questions/criteria that should be considered. In James McCormick’s article, he explains evaluation process used to find the leading Web Analytics vendors as well as the outcomes. The 75 components that made up the evaluation criteria can be categorized into three groups

  • Current Offerings (data handling; metrics, dimensions, & correlations; reporting and analysis; application usability and administration; integration; and service & support)
  • Strategy (how well each vendor is positioned for success given their strategies)
  • Market Presence (evaluation of financial strength, client base, & employee base)

In the final assessment, only 6 vendors were left: Adobe, AT Internet, Google, IBM, SAS Institute, and Webtrends. Of these 6, McCormick explains how each of them possessed the following

  • A significant base of enterprise-class clients
  • A healthy, sizable business
  • Invested in the future success of the product

The data showed Adobe, AT Internet, IBM and Webtrends as being the leaders of Web Analytics. Google Analytics is able to offer a more competitive option while SAS Institute offers Analytics for existing customers.

So… with all of these options, why Google Analytics? It’s simple. Not only does Google Analytics integrate the full picture across different sources of media content, but also different media sources, such as differentiating between a tablet and a smartphone. GA can help a company break down the path their consumers take on their way to a purchase, as well as the device(s) used to get there. This can help a company decide whether their presence in one area is lacking, or if it’s just right across the board. Google Analytics also offers a feature called In-Page Analytics. This tool is useful for visually understanding how customers interact with a businesses web page. A business can then learn what each customer likes, and tailor their marketing strategies to get the most out of their media and spending. There are endless routes a customer could take to eventually make a purchase, and Google Analytics helps you figure out just what it was that made them think “Yep! I’m buying it!”

Through my own research, I found that 67% of Forbes 500 Companies used Google Analytics as of 2014. The vendors that followed are Adobe, Webtrends, IBM, and Other. In 2014, IBM had a 42.9% decrease in its use among Forbes 500 Companies. Google Analytics has been on the rise for the last few years and it doesn’t look like that will be slowing down anytime soon! All the more reason I’m excited about being GA certified – those are the kinds of bragging rights I’m looking for 🙂

Don’t just take my word for it – check out these other articles that helped give me an even better understanding of just how important and useful Google Analytics really is!

Measuring the Impact of Google Analytics

Google Analytics Success Stories

How Many Websites Use Google Analytics?