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Advanced PPC #1: How to target users at different stages of the decision making funnel


Hit, Hit, Sale – Funnel Marketing Strategies with Paid Media Channels



Joel Bondorowsky: We are very excited today to be presenting with Sam Noble. We also have Arianne Donoghue, and Kirk Williams, and of course, myself, Joel Bondorowsky, for this very exciting webinar where we'll be speaking about how to target users at different stages of the sales funnel.

Okay, so I think at this point, I'll do the formal introduction of everybody. So I, Joel Bondorowsky, will be hosting this webinar. It's the first on a series that I'm hosting of advanced marketing, mostly PPC strategies. Today, our first presenter is Samantha Noble. Samantha's been working digital marketing for over 12 years, specializing in paid media across both search and social. She does work the client side, agency side, and has recently set up a paid media consultancy and trading business which is called Biddable Moments.

Also joining us is Arianne Donoghue. She started off her digital career over a decade ago. She's with both agencies and in-house brands specializing in all things media. She's now back agency side focusing on marketing strategy at Epiphany Search.

And Kirk Williams, I've done an episode before with him. He's actually been named one of the top 25 most influential PPC-ers in the world by PPC Hero for three years in a row. And he has written articles for many industry publications.

Joel Bondorowsky: Okay, so I think we're about ready to get started.

Samantha Noble: Okay. As Joel was saying, I'm gonna be sharing some tips, tactics, and strategies that you can use to target people across the different stages of the purchase funnel. So one of the things that I like to talk about is something called R.A.C.E.

R.A.C.E. Framework


So we've got reach. It's the first part of any marketing campaign that you're doing. So, when you're trying to reach people that are either aware of your brand already or who are not. Two very different audiences, but they sit within that reach campaign area. Then we move onto act, and this is whereby we’ve warmed that audience up a little bit. They're aware of who we are, they're aware of what it is that we're selling, or promoting, and now we need to encourage them to take that next step and start moving them towards purchasing. And that's when the convert stage happens.

And what I see a lot of businesses doing is they get to that convert stage and then they stop. But there's one other real fundamental area that I think paid media particularly can do really well for businesses, and that's the engage stage. You spent all this money, and all this effort that you put into play to try to encourage people to buy from me the first time, but you need to continue to market to those people. You can't just leave them there and expect them to continue to be a customer because they have to be worked, they need to be given constant reminders that you're around so that they keep coming back time and time again.

And the way that you see success is if you target every single section of this framework. There are so many businesses that will just purely focus on the conversion stage because that's where they're more confident in their approach. But it's really, really important to target everybody at the different stages of the framework. I'm just gonna give you strategies that you can use for each of the four different areas of that framework that we spoke about previously.


Reaching Out To Target Audience

Starting with reach; so something you can actually do here is the Facebook SDK utilized with Lookalike Audiences. So if you're using that framework and if you've got an SDK in place, you can actually get a lot more targets hit with your approach. So this is a really smart way of actually targeting people at the awareness stage, at the reach stage, without actually having to go too broad in your approach.


Another thing that works really well at this stage is Facebook video ads. I think more and more people are starting to use video. It's just a really eye-catching way of trying to drive traffic back through to your website. And utilizing all of the different targeting features that you've got within Facebook, you can really hone in on the people that you're looking to reach and try to promote something to them at this stage.


The main thing at this stage is you're just trying to educate that user, and video can be a really good way of warming that audience up. And then you can remarket to those people at a later day.

Something that is potentially coming soon is we're seeing native ads appearing in the Google Discover feeds. You can start to see these ads appearing in and around relevant content to what that person's actually looking for and what they're reading online. So this isn't something that's fully rolled out yet, but it's been talked about and it should be something that could be quite interesting to try and reach people right at the very early stage of their decision-making process.


Act To Push People Down Your Sales Funnel

So, next up, we've got the act stage. This is where somebody's actually gonna become aware of who you are as a brand, or your product, and you're trying to push them down that phase. You're trying to encourage them to actually funnel through and make a purchase and complete your desired goal.

One thing that Google's been rolling out of late is the responsive search ads. I've seen some good results from these and I've seen some bad results, so I don't think that this is something where we can sit there and say, "Yeah, every single brand and every single advertising ad and campaign should have these in them." I think it's definitely worth testing and seeing if it works for your brand, but don't be alarmed if it doesn't.


What responsive search ads do is website multivariate testing, but for ads. So rather than having to continuously write different ad variations, and wait and see whether that ad is performing for you, what you can do with these is you can basically upload lots and lots of different headlines. And what Google will do is they will mix and match those to make different ad variations so that you can try and make decisions quicker in terms of the ad performance than what you would do if you were just running parallel to one another.

One of the key things to note here is Google can mix and match the ads and the different headlines. It's important to make sure that no matter what order the headlines and the descriptions are appearing in, they actually make sense.

Augmented reality ads are something that Michael Kors and Sephora are testing at the moment with Facebook. Michael Kors are basically allowing you to hold your phone up and you can take a selfie of you with a certain type of glasses on. So you don't even need to go into the shop to try the glasses on because you can do that from the comfort of your own home. And Sephora are doing a similar one where you can test out different lipstick shades.


As this evolves over the coming months and years, I think this is gonna be really interesting to see how brands start to utilize augmented reality within their advertising campaigns.

And then the final bit with this particular section is we've got the Bing intent ads on MSN and Outlook. So Bing launched these last year and what they basically do is take your search intent, so they look at your search queries, search history that you've done in previous searches, and they will start to display ads that are relevant to those particular queries within MSN or within Outlook. So it's taking that search intent and putting it into a native display. Bing was saying that this is working really, really well for them. And a lot of businesses are getting some great exposure for their brand off the back of it. So if you're looking to do any kind of awareness or re-engagement campaigns, this would work really well.


Convert Into Sales

So if we move onto the convert stage, one thing that I've seen some big successes in is the Google local search map ads. When I first started doing PPC, we had Google maps that had absolutely zero ads. It was really easy to get everything ranked organically within the listings. And you sit there and think, "Wow, Google's probably gonna start to monetize this at some point." And low and behold, last year, they came out and said that they were gonna be doing one ad appearing at the top of the main search results. In a lot of cases, we're seeing two. Now, for the advertisers that have been using Google Maps for a while and seeing some really good results organically, this isn't good for them because this is gonna be using up a lot of that search volume that they're getting from here.


But what I like about this is it actually gives some of the smaller advertisers an opportunity to rank within the search map ads because they can start to appear above those that have been there for a long time within the organic map listings. And these are really, really good as well if you're looking to drive footfall into a local store. They're a really interesting way of trying to take that online journey offline and encourage those conversions.

Another thing that we're starting to see is the product listing ads appearing in two carousels. So it's like a double-decker product listing. So at the top, we can see things that are related to the keyword that's been searched for. So we've got the shop for engagement rings, and we've got all the different engagement rings across the top. And then below that, we've got the shop by store. Both of those carousels are sponsored.


Engage People

As we move into the engage stage then, one of the things that works really well... if you've got data that is GDPR-compliant and you are able to upload that into Facebook, this can be a very, very good way of actually targeting people for renewals. So for example, Direct Line is a car insurance provider based in the UK. And if we take a list of everybody that purchased car insurance with Direct Line in March 2018, when it becomes February 2019, we can upload that data in Facebook, Google, and say, "These are the people that have purchased car insurance during March 2018." So we know when it gets to around February time, their likelihood is that they're gonna start shopping around. And what we're gonna see as advertisers and as brands, we're gonna try and retain that customer.

So by uploading a customer match list and sending out adverts to those particular people reminding them that their car insurance is due for renewal and maybe offering them a discount for staying with you as a brand. There are different ways that you can do things like that, but customer match segmented by month of purchase for anything that's a renewal or a subscription-based model can work really, really well.

Click to WhatsApp messenger ads is something that seems to be on the horizon as well, and I was wondering how Facebook was gonna start tying WhatsApp into their whole advertising strategy.


The Click to WhatsApp messenger ads could be used to try and promote loyalty programs or to try and have that follow up engagement with customers. I had a really good example of how a brand has actually used this for something. I bought a T-shirt for a friend of mine and we saw a Facebook messenger ad afterward. It was basically thanking me for the purchase.

And then after that, because I'd engaged with it, they then had the whole conversation with me via Facebook messenger and were sending me updates on when the product was gonna be shipped and when I could expect to receive it. And I think all little things like that, little touchpoints like that that you can use when you're not just hammering people with email, taking advantage of the different advertising platforms that we've got to really enhance that experience is where brands are gonna win going forwards.

This is one of the examples that were looking at with Facebook Messenger. So, communication post-sale. You can see the image of the product that's been purchased and then it even gives you a UPS tracker so that you can actually see when your product's gonna be arriving. I think this is a really clever way of communicating with customers post-sale. So...one of the things I want you to bear in mind is a customer doesn't just wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to go and buy from this particular brand and this is the exact product I want." They need to be warmed up.


It does take a fair number of times of touchpoints in order for you to generate a conversion. I was running a training course a couple of weeks ago and we were looking through the attribution reports, and somebody had clicked on 56 different keywords within my PPC campaign. So it cost me 56 times to actually generate that sale.

Importance of Attribution Models


So I think it's really important, moving on to the next point, to use an attribution model that allocates success to all clicks, not just the last click. In the example where we had the 56 clicks before somebody made a purchase, imagine what your actual cost per acquisition is for all of those different keywords. You may have had one sale, and if you were basing it on last click, it might look like you're in profit.

But when you actually take into consideration all of the different clicks it has taken to actually convert somebody, that sale somebody goes from being really profitable for a business to completely unprofitable. So it's really important to use an attribution model that does allocate success to the different channels and the different clicks across PPC.

Campaigns at the reach stage, the awareness stage, are not designed to drive immediate conversions. If you are in a business and you've come up with loads of different ideas of things that you're looking to do for that particular brand, focusing on the conversion stage first and working your way up is where you're gonna get the biggest impact in results. If you start launching awareness campaigns before you've done anything else, it's going to take time for those people to actually funnel down that purchase funnel.

They're not just gonna see an awareness campaign and immediately want to buy. So if you're trying to get the buy-in from investors, or CEO's, or business owners, just focusing on awareness is not gonna help you to do that. And then the last point here is that you do need to make sure that you're focusing on the entire framework, as I mentioned at the start.

So just as a reminder before we go, the R.A.C.E strategy is reach, act, convert, and engage. And thank you very much for listening.

Joel Bondorowsky: Well, I found that very informative. For one thing, you were talking about excellent ways that we could, as the state of the title, reach users across the sales funnel. I mean, people don't just wake up in the morning and necessarily just decide, "I'm gonna buy this." People first have to become aware of what your product is, they have to consider it, they then have to desire it some more before they take action. And then even after they decide that they actually wanna buy the product, they might turn around and start searching for you, searching for who you are, searching for maybe some competitors of yours that might offer something comparable.

So it is important to understand that decision-making process and also, it's important to know the tools. And I think something that I found very valuable here was how Sam was able to present to us some new features that are up and coming in the online marketing world, which I think is very exciting.

Getting Started And Allocating A Budget

Joel Bondorowsky: What I would like to do is move onto some questions. With so many different channels, features, and tools, how do I know where to start and what to allocate my budget to?

Samantha Noble: Okay, so the way that I typically approach any strategy is I start off with a completely blank canvas and make loads and loads of different ideas with the different stages of that funnel. Then I go through and highlight the ones that I think have got more chance of success with. And then I start everything at the conversion stage and I allocate around 80% of my budget that I've got. Things that I'm 90% sure are gonna work and then I take 20% of the budget and I plug that into the act stage, the middle stage, the consideration stage, the preference stage of your funnel.

And then as you start adding more revenue and more conversions back into that funnel, you then start taking it up a level again. And then you start using your budget to test at the awareness stage. So then you're then taking audiences and trying to follow them down to convert.

Joel Bondorowsky: I've actually taken a similar approach myself. One thing that I do, though, if I find myself wanting to be more aggressive, then instead of it being 80/20, I might be like, "Okay, I'll take the same amount of money that I was spending on stuff that's working well and then invest it into expanding. On the other hand, if I'm working on a project where we're wanting to be more conservative, I'd maybe make that 90/10.

Can Bots Help Advertisers?

I have a question from, actually, this is from YouTube, Nicholas. He's asking how are messenger bots going to help advertisers?

Arianne Donoghue: Well, it's a tricky one because I don't think we've necessarily seen the use of bots by businesses take off in the way we maybe thought it would a couple of years ago. But I think we are starting to see more traction with it. Sam showed in her example with following up through Facebook messenger, the option for someone to then buy the matching pair of shoes within that chat. And that is where I think you're gonna start seeing more of things.

But it's certainly gonna take time. I think it is certainly a good option and Bing show many examples of this, of how they embed bots into the results page so that you can ask questions without having to go into the website or potentially open an app on your phone. So making it easy for people to use them is gonna be key. I think we've potentially all been a little guilty of racing to build a bot just because we can without any real thought for exactly how it's gonna help the customer and make their lives easier.

But if we can think of ways to do that, then people will want to adopt them because why wouldn't you use something that's going to make your life easier. But I think we've just gotta bridge that gap first between what we as marketers wanna do and what's actually useful for the user.

Kirk Williams: For a further resource, I would say look into Larry Kim and his company MobileMonkey. Larry Kim started Wordstream, now he's doing MobileMonkey, which is literally messenger bots. And he has done some really awesome presentations speaking to that exactly, speaking on the importance of them, how we can do it, and then real practical, how you can build some.

Arianne Donoghue: I could also recommend, if you wanna get started with a really simple bot yourself, Bing gives you the ability through their Microsoft bot framework to build a really simple Q&A bot where you can teach it answers to the most common questions and then train it to deal with different responses over time. That's really simple.

Joel Bondorowsky: Okay, well, I look forward to seeing how bots mature. I have two questions related to multi-channel attribution. So I'll combine them I think so because they're both related. We have someone asking about if you have any suggestions about how to set up multi-channel attribution as far as modeling goes. And in addition to that, another question I have is regarding how to track users, you mentioned six to eight touchpoints. So six to eight touchpoints, it's probably not on the same device and browser, and whatnot.

Best PPC Tools

Samantha Noble: The golden question. There's a lot of different tools and I think whichever one you use, if you test that against another tool, you're gonna get different results and you're never gonna find anything that's gonna be 100% accurate. The way that I tend to speak to clients about this is if they haven't got an attribution model that they're using currently, it's really difficult for them to sit there and say, "I think we should do this one."

But having something that is used to consistently, across the board in the organization, is absolutely fundamental. If you've got different agencies, or different teams running Facebook ads, and running Google ads, and running Bing ads, they need to be a central reporting system that people are using. Otherwise, you're gonna be double-counting, triple-counting conversions. And we're seeing this more and more.

And I think Facebook actually have come out yesterday with the Facebook attribution tool, which I haven't had a chance to play with yet. But they're trying to bridge a gap by pulling all of the different channels in together. So it's gonna be interesting to see how that one plays out.

For me personally, at the moment, I'm using a variety of different things. So if I'm running PPC on Google, and on Bing, and on Facebook, I use the individual platforms to help me to understand what's working and what's not within those individual platforms, but I don't report from those platforms. I use those to help me make the decisions about whether a keyword is working, whether an audience is working.

But in order to understand what's actually driving the revenue, or the conversions into a business, at the moment I'm using Google Analytics with, again, it depends on the client, but in a lot of cases, a time decay model, or a linear model. So I'm actually seeing across the board how are my different channels attributing to that conversion

Joel Bondorowsky: The really groundbreaking thing about the Facebook tool is that they're not tracking users by their device or browser, they're tracking users by their login. I mean, of course, you never track everything 100%, but most people use Facebook and most people are logged into Facebook on their mobile device and on their computer and on their computer at work, and so on. So if I'm understanding the way the Facebook attribution tool works correctly, it'll know who that person is cookie-free just because of what they're doing with Facebook. Am I wrong?

Samantha Noble: No, I think that's right. And I think it's also, obviously, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger. Correct me if I'm wrong, or any of the other two, because they've got access to all of those different platforms.

Joel Bondorowsky: Yeah, so they're stepping it up. They know who you are in a different way. You can't clear cookies and stop being tracked. It's a very effective way to know what you're doing when you jump from device to device just because you're tracking you by your login.

Arianne Donoghue: They are probably one of only three companies who can offer such a solution. The others being Google, particularly with the Android ecosystem. And then you could argue Apple.

Joel Bondorowsky: Okay, so I have another question. Do you have a favorite attribution model? And what is it and why?

Kirk Williams: I really like DDA right now, if you have enough data. So DDA is Google Ad's data-driven attribution. A core problem with that is that it's only single channel, so it's just in Google Ads. So just be aware of that, but it is, to me, at least Google actually applying machine learning to attribution to solving that.

I'd have to say position base is, otherwise, where I land, just because it gets me a little bit of the first-click look, and the first touch, and last touch, and some in the middle, but there's no perfect model.

Joel Bondorowsky: And I think sometimes you have to adjust the model based on the traffic source.

Samantha Noble: It would be really helpful if we could have an attribution model at the campaign level.

Joel Bondorowsky: But there will never be a one size fits all model.

Arianne Donoghue: There's no one true model.

Joel Bondorowsky: And even once you have a model, it's going to change based on your marketing strategies. You do something different, your traffic structure, your traffic sources, the way they come in is gonna change. And the way they influence each other is gonna change. So I think it's always going to have to be dynamic.

This has been a lot of fun. Any other questions from anybody? Actually, I do have one. Where do you start if people have never heard of your business at all? A mix of convert and reach. That just came in literally this second.

Samantha Noble: You need to start at the awareness stage. If you've got something that's completely new, a brand new product that they're not even aware of, you need to make sure you're investing some money in the awareness stage rather than just trying to go in and convert. You need to warm people up to that brand slowly.

Arianne Donoghue: I saw a great talk a couple of years ago and the speaker talked about even when shopping, people on generic queries don't generally click on brands that they don't recognize. So even if you are the right answer to that question for a particular user, if they have no association with you at all, they are still highly unlikely to click.

So having that awareness generated at that earlier stage, whether it's because you've reached them through YouTube, or a display advert, or you've managed to have them see your brand somewhere else. It's so important so at least it's not the first time they're seeing you on the results page in Google, that they already know who you are and they have that trust that you are who you say you are.

Kirk Williams: If we get a prospect who is like, "Hey, we're in a similar scenario, we're new. We want you to help us get off the ground." And then they immediately go to a limited budget with some sort of a really dedicated target ROI, we're basically out. I basically refer them on because I think that you've got to have expectations for the awareness building. It takes money and time.

Joel Bondorowsky: That's right. Yeah, I think if you're first starting off and also if you're building awareness, you do have to wait. Things do take time and the statistics cost money, and they take time to compile. I would like to ask you guys before we go just any single takeaways you could give starting with you Samantha, and we'll move on down.

Key Takeaways

Samantha Noble: One thing for me is I think making sure that even if you're not doing any form of remarketing campaigns at the moment, or you're not using any of your email CRM data, getting that data uploaded into the platforms and getting website audiences built now is absolutely key because you won't be able to do any of this framework without having people to reach. And so having actually things set up so that when you're wanting to go live, you can. So for me, building audiences, uploading databases, and getting that data ready to use is absolutely key.

Joel Bondorowsky: Okay. And also track everything you can from the start. Even if you don't use it, track it. Maybe you'll need it later.

Arianne Donoghue: My tip is gonna lead on from what you just said, Joel, actually that as well as tracking that macro conversion of the sale or purchase, whatever it is you're trying to drive, is track all the other things that people can do on your website. This is particularly important for people in the reach and act stages because that is gonna be how they express their interest in you as a brand.

Kirk Williams: I think based on Sam's awesome presentation, I think that you really have to know how to do marketing well and then how to work that into a paid media strategy. So specifically, where those people are that you're trying to reach, how you're going to use paid media to reach them, and then having realistic expectations on what you can expect in terms of return.

Joel Bondorowsky: Yes. We're actually quite a bit over and I feel like I could keep going. I look forward to hearing from everybody, and really meeting you guys again, both online and even in conferences in the future.

Arianne Donoghue: That'd be great.

Joel Bondorowsky: It's been a lot of fun.

Kirk Williams: Thank you.

Samantha Noble: Thank you.


Check out other webinars from this series