9 Ways To Get Ahead Of The Game For Google Ads

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Get Ahead Of The Game For Google Ads

PPC tactics and consumer behavior are changing fast in the 21st century and Google is matching those needs.

To stay relevant in 2019 on the search network, you can’t just sit back and watch 2018 campaigns sink.

What worked in early 2018 and 2017 isn’t going to work as well in 2019.

Here are nine expert tips to get ahead of the game for Google Ads success in the coming year.

1. Automate Your Bidding

The first expert tip for Google Ads in 2019 comes from Brady Cramm, Director of PPC at Directive Consulting.

To make sure your PPC effort suceed, I recommend using automated bidding rules on Google Ads.

It’s a sure way to save time and money.

For example, in the rules section of your Google Ads dashboard, you can create automated rules for account optimization:

Here you tell Google Ads how to manage events in your account, like increasing your ad spend when the average cost per click is low:

Directive Consulting works with a lot of large accounts that frequently start and stop campaigns based on iterative performance. That can be a managerial nightmare. It’s incredibly time-consuming to babysit campaign performance to the required level of granularity. And the risk of missing something and overspending is high.

To (try to) avoid any risk, Brady Cramm uses Shape.io to manage their budget and ad spend across so many different concurrent campaigns. With Shape, you can set up predefined targets with caps for multiple campaigns under each client. 

And it offers a cool, all-in-one visualization of all channels.

It includes budget trend, predicted spend based on real-time performance, how increases or decreases will affect performance, and also an autopilot feature to catch trend lines to not overspend.

2. Use Google Ads and Facebook to Drive Content Success

When looking to use PPC to grow, most companies will hit the SERPs and target bottom of the funnel keywords, like “buy SEO tool.”

You know, keywords that signify someone wants to buy something. ASAP.

But these don’t work as well as content engagement campaigns do, and for good reason:

These people have likely never heard of you.

That’s why Brian Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer at Kinsta, gives this tip: 

There’s a direct correlation between social proof and increased search traffic. It’s more than people think.
Organic reach is just going to get worse and worse and worse. It’s never going to get better.
That’s why I’d suggest to use Google Ads and Facebook together to automate content success

This is not just theory, it works and he proved it.

Brian published a blog post for Kinsta on bootstrapping, which went live in November and instantly it hit the top of Hacker News.

This resulted in their website getting a consistent 400+ concurrent visitors all day.

Within hours their post was ranking on the first page for the term “bootstrapping,” which receives around 256,000 monthly searches.

How did that happen?

Essentially, you’re paying Facebook and Google Ads to increase organic rankings. You take good content, add paid syndication, and watch keyword rankings go up on the search network.

Kinsta’s big goal with content promotion is to build traffic and get as many eyeballs as possible.

Then they’ll use display retargeting and RLSAs on Google Ads, targeting the people who just visited with lead gen offers to start a free trial or a money back guarantee:

Content success is a key part of generating leads.

While PPC ads targeting bottom-of-the-funnel users can work, it’s not always affordable for your bottom line, nor is it sustainable.

Try cross-promoting your content like Brian by utilizing Facebook to distribute and Google to remarket interested users.

3. Put Your Message Match on Steroids

Chief Marketing Officer, Casey Armstrong, reported that they’ve been able to scale their ad spend over 60% quarter-over-quarter while keeping ROI the same.

How did they do it?

We hyper-focus on customization from ad to landing page to on-boarding experience, with a special attention on the ad-to-landing page experience.
We create dynamic header and copy changes throughout the page. Then we mirror our ad campaigns and ad groups to each landing page, as we run over 1,000 campaigns and over 100,000 groups.

So for example, you Google “Shopify Order Fulfillment” and see this exact-match ad:

You click it, and then land on a page that exclusively focuses on “Shopify order fulfillment” (hence, the headline and sub-header and content):

Now, you’ve got funnel segmentation.

You’re treating landing pages like content mapping, aligning unique pages with each different offer, segment, or audience, within each stage.

Using SKAGs, they match each landing page to a specific, single keyword ad group:

Now that’s solid message match. 

Better message match = better Quality/Relevance Scores = lower Cost Per Leads.

But if you want better results, you need to put your message match on steroids.

The next step is to align messaging for each page to:

And that’s where Dynamic Text Replacement comes into play, a handy little off-the-shelf feature in the Unbounce editor to help you personalize PPC landing page content.

Inside the editor, you can highlight a content section, like the headline, to have DTR. Click on the “Properties” section, then select “Dynamic Text Replacement.”

Next, you can set the parameter and default text to show visitors as a backup plan.

AdWords IF functions are another game changer for message match because now you can pair the two to customize ad + page, automatically.

For example, you can use RLSA audiences or even device type to customize ad text on the fly, even going so far as to change the offer for each.

Take this advice from Samantha Drane of CPC Strategy:

The way we use our mobile device is different than the way we search on desktop.

Mobile is more ‘in the moment’ – maybe you’re going somewhere or looking for something near you but desktop is considered more of a research tool.

The challenging part is doing this for major campaigns and scaling your efforts. Dynamic text replacement solves this (almost) overnight!

And this is just the beginning.

You can create page templates for each segment, too.

So that in addition to copy, other page elements can be customized, like an attorney-looking dude that pops up when you search for “attorneys”:

While a doctor-looking dude comes up for “doctor” searches:

(Note: These examples are both dudes because the targeting was primarily dude-specific.)

Laser-targeting each landing page like this to every single keyword you’re bidding on might be the lowest-of-low-hanging-PPC fruit.

Obsessive message match in this last example decreased cost per converted click from $482.41 to $147.65, while increasing the conversion rate from 4.08% to 12.76%.

Multiply those cost changes against a $30,000/month budget (which this was), and you’re talking about hundreds of more leads for tens of thousands less.

4. Upgrade Offers, not Buttons

Google Ads can trick you.

Nowhere else can you get sales-ready leads with such precision and accuracy. No other platform — online or off — delivers people to your door with wallet in hand.

Why? Keywords and intent!

That’s why the same old boring “Free Quote” landing page works OK on Google Ads, but bombs on pretty much every other channel out there.

The final ingredient separating double-digit landing pages from sub 1-2% is the offer you’re using to draw people near.

Three billion in ad spend analyzed can’t be wrong.

So it’s not necessarily a direct hard sale…

But one that focuses on the end results your customers and clients receive…

Except, how do you balance message match (who they are, where they’re coming from, etc.) with more persuasive copy that gets them to convert?

Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers has the trick to balancing the two (and a few more tips):

If you want to boost your results in 2019 try the 10/90 messaging hierarchy layout.
First, focus on optimizing the consumer offer.
Then, communicate that value with better copy.
And remember: Optimize your offers and persuasion, not your buttons. 

But what exactly is the 10/90 messaging hierarchy layout?

And the bottom 90 percent for persuasion, like:

Then, you can split test different types of offers on your pages for the same campaign.

The moral of the story is: 

Simple changes in your button text won’t do much if it isn’t paired with an upgraded offer that results in more value

Yeah, grammar changes can help you manage intent. But button changes are just that: button changes.

5. Split testing — not AB testing

The experts at Wistia recommend split testing video placements, not A/B testing.

Put your video to the test by making two different versions of the page and seeing which one drives more conversions, the one with or without the video.
Then you can even split test different types of videos or demos”.

Split testing pages, not necessarily A/B testing, is a recurring theme.

Brady Crammfrom Directive Consulting also loves to split test, especially video content.

They’ll often do on-demand or evergreen ones (as opposed to scheduled ones), so prospects can view the video at their own convenience.

Here’s a perfect example:

Extras like this help a lot in a competitive environment, like Google Ads or Capterra, where the same person might click on the first ten companies to compare them all within a few minutes.

Convenience can provide a big lift.

Brady Cramm focuses on ad copy next, but not just for message match in this case.

Page elements, like teaser bullets, can provide quickly summarize the main outcomes and benefits (not features) a prospect might get.

This is a common mistake Brady sees on most B2B landing pages.

It’s so important to get that outside perspective.

There’s a poison in many B2B companies, where everyone uses their own language around the office. They all understand it.

But nobody (outside of the company) knows what they’re saying when they bring it to the web.”

So NOT this:

Device targeting can make or break your campaign’s offer messaging.

Landing pages need to be treated differently if they’re on mobile vs. desktop.

One time, a Directive Consulting client had their form below the fold on mobile devices. 

Like this:

The page was responsive, but the mobile layout wasn’t ideal; forcing the form out of sight, out of mind.

We swapped [the form] to the top and conversions went through the roof.
Mobile traffic was sharing and clicking, which is good.
But they weren’t staying very long, consuming it, or opting-in.
So we also decided to segment paid campaigns only for mobile or desktop.”

Pay attention here: mobile OR desktop, NOT both

Users exhibit different behavior on mobile vs. desktop. Brand awareness campaigns or content promotion might work well on social for those reasons. However, lead gen campaigns are often better reserved for desktop.

I’ve confirmed this across several promoted content tests on Facebook.

My company, Getcodeless, spent $984.69 on one content campaign and found that the three primarily-mobile placements (Audience Network, Messenger, and Instagram) significantly outperformed desktop and right column placements for top-of-the-funnel traffic.

It makes no sense to continue spending anything on desktop placements.

You might as well drive as many cheap clicks as possible, so you can later retarget them with better offers on desktop when there’s a better chance they’ll convert.

Here’s how the math breaks down if you would have shifted more ad budget to the mobile-based placements:

Nearly 2,000% more clicks for the same spend.

And we were able to repeat this trend again and again and again.

So the campaign success wasn’t just indicative of a single headline or button or any other variable on your PPC landing pages. But from aligning everything from the funnel segmentation, with message match, and offer messaging for each aspect or placement.

The takeaway of Brad Smith, founder at Codeless Interactive (a content creation company for the best SaaS sites on the planet) is:

Mobile campaigns are great when running ads for top-of-the-funnel activities.
Desktop succeeds when you want to convert bottom-of-the-funnel leads.
So, tailor your ad targeting to each strength“. 

7. Stop Pushing Sales and Start Pushing Value

Yes, you read that right. Being too pushy for sales with PPC in 2019 is a big mistake.

Google has shifted to be more customer-centric and advertisers need to as well. No longer are the days of pushing product and being overtly salesly.

Google Ads do have intent, but people aren’t converting on a dime.

Louis Grenier, Content Lead at Hotjar, says:  

2019 for us means going back to the fundamentals. We’ve identified opportunities for topics that we are not bidding for yet purely because they are not directly related to the features we offer.
Instead of trying to quickly convert visitors searching for such topics, we will build funnels to slowly share our point-of-view and slowly convert the right types of leads so they stick around longer.”

This means producing content that people want to read and advertising it on Google results.

Slowly building up traffic and nurturing them from brand awareness to sale, rather than just pushing high-intent keywords to get a 2% conversion rate.

Next time you run ads, target keywords where advertisers aren’t giving enough value and watch your conversions and CTR go through the roof:

Instead of promoting your product as the best, promote your brand as a value proposition.

Like this example above, the advertiser provides direct value by comparing CRMs and giving content, rather than pushing their product first.

What else can you do?

Almost unlimited tactics come to mind.

One, for example, is directing remarketing traffic via Google Ads to a knowledge base software where existing customers or free trial users can improve their usage of your tool, thus becoming dependent on it for success:

This works to strengthen the value your tool brings to the table.

The better you can get someone to use your product or service, the better growth they will get, and the more they will spend with your business.

Focus on value in 2019, not selling. Value will take care of the selling for you.

8. Test Different Bidding Models Like Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an interesting topic that can give us insight into PPC success.

With affiliate marketing, there are a few common types of payment structures for affiliate marketers:

Adam Enfroy, affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce, recommends:

Just like Google Ads and PPC, there are many models of bidding that can work (or fail).
My tip to drive success in 2019 is that of testing your bidding models just like you’d do in affiliate marketing: CPC vs. CPL or CPA.”

With Google Ads bidding, you can choose from any of the following types:

The key takeaway we treasured from our conversation with Adam is:

Switch up your bidding in 2019 and run split-testing campaigns to see which drives better results.

9. Run an Account-Based Marketing Plan

David Zheng of WiseMerchant and GrowthWit works all day looking for low-hanging fruit with PPC campaigns. 

He’s constantly on the lookout for ways to, as he puts it:

We double-down with resources to get the most growth.
Then once we can get it to work a little bit, we increase conversion rates.
Like, get strangers to give us an email, convert to a free deal, and then hopefully close into a new account.”

For example, if one Google Ads campaign is already working, can you 10x it?

Or does it make more sense to start testing paid social ads in conjunction with remarketing on Google’s display network for content amplification?

In 2019, I recommend experimenting with account-based marketing (ABM) techniques.
In this way you can manage to land high-profile clients rather than chasing 1,000 small clients on PPC.
Less is more should be your mantra this year.”

Let’s make it real with an example.

David and his team can identify, research, and qualify leads without ever leaving LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to start:

Then they can run ads for different offers, including eBooks to webinars or consultations, to see what sticks.

From there, they can remarket them on the display network and drive an opt-in to start emailing them.

And to supplement this effort, David uses tools such as ClearBit and Gmass

In addition, they use Canva to create a lot of the sales and marketing collaterals, like presentations and PDFs, to help them get a foot in the door.

You can have a go at making your own sales collateral with this Canva template

These bigger, complex deals don’t happen overnight, though.

Data from Salesforce shows that the average deal takes at least 6-8 ‘touches’ before closing. Which means re-engaging warm leads throughout the process is critical.

Almost every single study shows that remarketing is one of the most efficient ways to close more customers.

By using RLSAs, you can produce ads for smaller audiences and make them more targeted and focused, tapping into account-based marketing tactics.

In 2019, personalization is going to win. But not just any personalization: real personalization based on real interests and behavior with your business.

Google Ads is constantly updating, changing, and improving. And so is consumer behavior.

Take a hard, real look at your current Google advertising strategy.

Have you updated campaigns in a while?

Is your bidding automated?

Are you using upgrade offers, personalization, and premium message match tactics?

If not, it’s time to get ahead of the game.

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