Increase ROI With Intelligent Message Mapping
- Audience Breakdown: Understanding Different Audience Types
- Mapping Buyer Personas
- Using Personas to Map Customer Journeys
- Getting More Value from Your Audiences in Google Analytics
- Live Ad Auditing: What Makes a Good Online Ad?
- Key Takeaways: Using Audience Exclusions, Defining Buyer Personas, and More
Navah: Hey everybody, thank you so much for joining us for this power hour webinar discussing intelligent message mapping so that your incredibly important messages land in the appropriate audience in 2020 and beyond.
My name is Navah Hopkins. I'm over at WordStream and I'm delighted to have as my co-panelist Amy Bishop. She is the founder, owner, chief marketer. To kick us off, we're going to share a little bit about ourselves, a little bit about why this topic is so important to us and then we'll dive right into the content.
I've been in digital marketing since 2008, really diving headlong into PPC in 2012. The reason why this topic is so important to me, is that I find a lot of folks invest so much time in what I like to call the grunt work, the mechanics of management, that it takes a lot of effort to take a step back and think creatively, analytically, and innovatively about how our messages are landing and actually investing the time in making good creative.
One of my absolute favorite perspectives in the space is Amy Bishop. I asked her if she could do this webinar and she said yes and SEMrush...was kind enough to host us. Both of us have been a top 25 influential PPC folks. We speak on the international circuit. Amy, did you want to say a couple things about yourself? Why is this interesting to you?
Amy: I've been doing this since about 2010. Really as Navah said, focusing on digital media, paid search, paid social, and you really nailed it on why it's important. We spend so much time optimizing our campaigns and there's this piece that seems to be commonly missing, which is just making sure that the messages are really speaking to the person that you're trying to speak to.
We'll talk a little bit about ads today. It's also not just ads, it's landing pages and making sure that the content that you create is really relevant to the people that you're trying to target and what they're interested in.
Because ultimately we'll be most successful at selling if we're taking a look, not just from our perspective at pushing things, but what do they care about? What problems are they trying to solve? How can we help them solve them?
Navah: We divided this webinar up into three basic parts. The first part I'm going to cover is the audience breakdown. Really giving you guys the fundamentals of the different audiences.
Amy will then pick it up with persona building. I cannot overstate how much you all should be taking down notes, really thinking about this going into 2020. She's going to give you a lot of really good actionable content and then we're both going to roast some ad copy. Some of the ads are going to be great, some of them will have room for improvement, but everything comes from a place of goodness.
Audience Breakdown: Understanding Different Audience Types
All right, let's do this. I would argue that the most important part of advertising is the people. We need to speak to our customers, not just talk at them, not just hit them over the head with messaging. We really need to engage them and understand who they are and what motivates them. Audiences, in truth, are based on not just our interactions with our brand, but also behaviors they exhibit outside of their interactions with us.
The world is not about us, the world is about them, and therein how we can potentially engage with them in a positive way. This is WordStream data looking at advertisers who had at least a dollar of spend in September of 2019 and at least one conversion. What I found really fascinating is that folks are far less likely to engage with you and your creative if there is no audience protecting/pre-qualifying that messaging.
What I also found really interesting, and I wasn't expecting this, is that similar audiences, so the audiences that Google creates based off of whatever audience actions you've told them to track, whether it's converters, site visitors, whatever, had the third-highest click-through rate.
Not surprised that website visitors had the highest. Customer lists, again, also fairly high there. But it's really important to know that going into 2020, not pre-qualifying your ads with an audience is setting them up for failure.
The cost per acquisition doubles down on this concept. If you have no audience, you should expect that cost per acquisition to be high because you're not pre-qualifying your messaging with the actual intelligence to ensure that it's going to land.
Finally, when it comes to conversion rate, no surprise that “no audience” was on the lower end. The in-market audience...had the highest. This is where we get into that conversation I love having with customers, "Do you value volume or value?"
In-market is really good at just getting those leads in. We have to assess whether we're happy with the cost of each of those leads and if those leads truly are worth that additional value or that additional premium.
As I mentioned, audiences can include folks who have been to our site, who've shown interest in a topic, have shown an interest in our products or services, or a part of a desired demographic. You want to pre-qualify and think about your perfect customer. It's not just about the message, it's also about what is the context around that message.
That's just some of the things to think about when you're thinking about creative and the mechanics of audiences.
That audience type number one that they interacted with your site. A lot of people forget that YouTube and Facebook videos can be that remarketing piece too. What's interesting is that YouTube videos come in on average about two cents a view, Facebook about penny a view.
Also interesting is the view time. You can actually build remarketing lists not just based off of people interacting with your site, but people interacting with your video content. That can be particularly useful if you want to really hit home a particular message.
Display: absolutely powerful when it comes to building remarketing lists for search ads. And what's interesting is that we found, for about $500 per month, we're able to effectively get that remarketing list for search ad list. You need at minimum a thousand people in a list in order to exclusively target them. For 500 bucks a month, that's not bad. Create a curated list to perfectly match your messaging.
The second audience type is that they searched for or showed interest in your service. They are in-market for that service. When you're in-market for something, you're not going to be in-market for it forever.
The third audience type is customer match with email. A cautionary tale here you actually can only use this audience type if your account has been running for at least 90 days, it has a lifetime spend of $50,000, you have a dedicated Google rep and you have no policy violations. However, once you clear those hurdles, nothing can compare with being able to perfectly match your messages to that curated list.
The fourth type is that they've displayed interest in behaviors, whether it's affinity or custom affinity. They are your sort of people. They are aligned with your brand.
I do want to give a shout out to similar audiences. We found that folks that use similar audiences see 60% more impressions. More importantly, those 60% more impressions trickled down to 48% more clicks, which trickled down and turn to 41% more conversions. I am not going to stand here and say that similar audiences are perfect, they're not, but they are a very easy way to test the water with layering in audiences based off of similar to converters.
A couple of last-minute notes before I hand the reins off to Amy is a checklist on whether an audience should be on” target and observe” or just “observe”. Should you be exclusively targeting people in this audience list? Or should you have it on an observation? Either bidding it up, bidding it down or just viewing it.
If the message changes based off of the audience, you may want to have it on “target” or “target and observe” as opposed to just “observe”. However, if it's under a thousand people, you will have to keep it on just “observe”.
If it's targeting display or video, you probably want it on “target and observe” because you want to be able to filter in on those exact people that you create this messaging for. If you favor the audience but you're really open to everybody, it would be shooting yourself in the foot to do “target and observe” because then you'd be stunting your volume, particularly on search.
If it's remarketing, a search campaign, you have to have it on “target and observe” because the whole point is that you're targeting off of initial engagement. You may also need to get the data to prove that the audience is worth targeting and that's when that observation mode is really key. I realized that was a ton. We're actually going to turn things over to Amy.
Mapping Buyer Personas
Amy: All right, so Navah did a great job of walking us through why audiences are important, ways you can use audiences, and a really good overview and a foundation.
What we're going to do now is just start to build on that. Your website is basically your digital salesperson. Your website's job is to educate, guide, and convert. But the only way that it can really do that is if it's collecting information at different steps to understand who this prospect is, what they care about, what they're looking for, what problem they're solving, so that it can start to guide them in the right direction, which will ultimately help solve their problem. It will also solve our problem, which is that we need more sales, right?
I like to start by just kind of mapping out personas. In an ideal world, every client would have personas already. Ideally, they would be detailed, they would be accurate, it would be grounded in data, they would be validated. But we all know that we don't live in an ideal world.
More often than not, when I start working with clients, they don't have personas that are already mapped out. What we would want to know is what are their demographics? Where do they obtain information from? What are their hobbies? What problems are they solving for? Because every service or solution solves a problem for somebody.
What are their priorities and what are different factors in their decision-making process? Here it's in Google docs, we're not going to open it today, but it's different for B2B and B2C. if you want to download it, you're more than welcome to. It just walks through different questions that you can ask to help identify and hone in on who that persona is.
It's really good to have this conversation also with your salespeople and with your customer service team. They're client-facing, they get a really good sense of what problems that consumers are trying to solve that leads them to your business so that you can go find more people like them. Don't be afraid to have multiple perspectives. No business should just have one persona.
Using Personas to Map Customer Journeys
Once we have our personas defined, what we want to do is start to map out what does that purchase path look like for them and what decision factors are important to them. I like to use this map and basically what this says is for this particular persona...what stage are they in? What information do they currently need to get to the next stage?
They may be using multiple devices, so we may have actions or resources that are better for certain devices than others. Then how can we track or ensure that we are creating audiences off of that action so that we know that they're taking that action?
For instance, in this one, this person, they're researching car comparisons. Maybe just at that kind of high level, they just want some unbiased car comparisons. We would send them to the vehicle comparison tool on desktop. If they're on mobile, that tool is a little bit cumbersome, so we'll send them to a video.
As they're starting the consideration process, maybe the things that are most important to them are gas mileage, safety ratings, seating info. That tells you something about who this person is, that hopefully you would already know by having identified their persona. But if it were a different persona, those key information pieces could be totally different. Somebody that's buying a sports car may not have the highest priority of gas mileage or the number of people that it seats.
This is why it's really important to make sure that you know who you're targeting, what they're interested in, and we start by having a good sense of who that persona is, but that doesn't mean that if they give us other signals that we stick with just what we know about that persona. If they're giving us other signals, then we should be learning from those and making sure that we're adjusting accordingly.
Getting More Value from Your Audiences in Google Analytics
I want to talk about leveraging those audiences and ads. As Navah mentioned, we have the ability to customize our ads based upon the audiences that people fall into. Based on the spreadsheet that we just looked at, we would have a lot of audiences that are built out based upon different actions that people have taken. There are also some different ways that we can build out audiences.
In certain platforms, we have the ability to be really specific about what demographics and interests that we would want to target. We can build audiences off of that.
We know something about what they're interested in. Delivering them the most accurate content based upon that can be really valuable. For people that have already purchased, it could be something like, "Welcome back. Have you seen our loyalty program?"
I want to talk about one of my very favorite things and I use this to drive the most value with audiences. That is the audiences report within the audience report in Google Analytics. It's confusing nomenclature. I did not name it. Within the audiences report there's so much information that you can see.
In order to set this up, you just want to make sure that when you create your audiences in Google Analytics, that when you enable them for Google Ads, you also send them into Google Analytics. You shouldn't necessarily have to tell Google Analytics that it can use something that it created, but in this case, you have to.
The reason that I think that it is so valuable is because most of Google Analytics is based upon last touch. Performance by source is only going to show you part of the picture. As you're mapping out these audiences, one of the main reasons that people like to do this is to make sure that they have a really nice flow from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel.
But then you look at your top of funnel campaigns in Google Analytics and sometimes they don't look very good because it's only showing part of the picture. In this case, we're looking at the source/medium report within the acquisition reports. As you can see, this particular channel is not doing very well. It's one that we primarily use for top of funnel.
But if we dig in and we look at the audience that is built off of that campaign, we see that the audience looks much better. Ultimately, what we see as the audience report indicates almost 15 times more revenue for this particular campaign than what the source report reports.
The acquisition report just shows that last touch performance, which for top of funnel campaign is typically not going to look very good. The audience report shows the longer term performance of any given audience. In this case, it's built off of that top of funnel campaign and so it's going to show you the longer term performance of those efforts and ultimately it's going to tell us, did those people in that audience convert?
We know that there have been other touches on it since that, so we wouldn't necessarily attribute all of that value back to the top of funnel campaign, but we also know that we wouldn't have that revenue if it weren't for the top of funnel campaign.
If you go into that audiences report, it's going to show you all of the audiences that you have enabled for the audience report and it's going to give you data like this, just about their user behavior, the folks that fall within those audiences. You can also add secondary dimensions.
The three main ways that I like to use this particular report are: one, to get a sense of if we had more money, where should we put it to try to drive more value? An audience is really only as good as it is big. If we start putting a lot of money behind one audience, but the audience isn't growing, it's only going to work for so long before it just starts to burn out.
The second thing is which audiences do we need to focus on growing? The third thing is these audiences don't have to be built just off of targets. They can also be built off of things like which sources did these folks come from and which micro conversions have they completed? That's going to give us a sense of what is actually influencing these people long-term.
For instance, if we have a guide and we have an ebook, we could create an audience off of each of those and then we could monitor to see long-term, which of those seem to actually have influenced that audience to ultimately purchase.
If you have Google Analytics 360, you can also use custom funnels. This means there are so many different ways that you can now take all of this data and mash it up with other reports.
One of my favorite ways is to look at the behavior flow report. This is going to give you a sense of, as these people are coming back that were in this audience, how are they engaging with content?
This is going to allow us to go back and validate what we had mapped out in that Excel file to get a sense of were we right? Is this the right content that these people are interested in as we're flowing them through or do we need to make changes?
We can also layer it over the behavior reports to get a sense of what content resonates well with them and we could change our landing pages if we needed to based upon that.
This last piece, reporting on audience performance. This is something that I think is really valuable. I'm passionate about it. What you can actually do is you can create custom dashboards by audience.
You can get a sense of what our transaction trends look like for that particular audience. The reason that this can be really important is, if we start putting more money behind this audience and if we start putting more money into creating more of this audience and growing the audience pool, is that changing anything about the behavior of the audience?
The nice thing is that you can build as many dashboards as you want or you can just swap out the audience here by changing the custom view segment in order to look at different audiences and get the different data points on those particular audiences.
That's me geeking out on audiences and of course Navah as well. Now we're going to actually talk about some different ads.
Live Ad Auditing: What Makes a Good Online Ad?
Navah: Amy, you want to kick us off with this espresso ad? Coffee is great. We all love coffee. What's wrong with this ad?
Amy: I want to love this ad because I love coffee and I love the idea of having good coffee that's instant. But to me, this just doesn't say anything to me. There's a million different ways that you could market to me. I'm a mom, I'm a business owner. There are so many different audiences that I fall into as somebody that feels like I'm always rushing around.
There are just different ways that you could market this to me to really speak to why this solves the problem for me because this machine is not cheap. It's not inexpensive.
Just to say “one machine, five coffee sizes”, it feels like, "I really needed to get this ad out the door, so I wrote something just so there was something then I launched it." When you look at the headline and it says Vertuo Machine, is that what it's called?
Navah: Yeah. Vertuo machine. Espresso coffee machine buying guide.
Amy: Is that going to take me to a guide? Is it going to take me to the machine? If it's going to take me to a guide, then why isn't the message about helping you find the right machine for you?
Then it says USA, which doesn't necessarily need to be said because I'm in the USA, I am seeing it, I'm assuming that I can buy it here. It's a lot of wasted space and the images isn't really that compelling.
Even if they changed one of the elements, change the image to make it relevant to me, change the message to make it relevant to me. Then the headline is just a bunch of words. It's just keyword stuffed almost, but they're not even good keywords. I just feel like this ad across the board is a miss.
Navah: What was funny was when you sent this over and I was initially like, "but it follows all of the in theory best practice rules, short concise title, headline is kind of clueing you in. It's got shop now." This ad was my favorite example of why best practices don't necessarily mean you have an amazing ad.
We've all been there. At least those of us that love coffee, that symphony that that comes with drinking coffee. It's lost because this ad is focusing on the machine instead of the person.
To Amy's point, there are so many ways that you could target her. There are so many facets to her amazing life. Yet, Nespresso completely miss the mark. They focused on themselves and they ignored their consumers...they probably lost that opportunity to secure Amy and others as a customer.
Amy: I'm sure they have a good product, but they could have converted me if the ad was more relevant to me.
Navah: Butter cloth.
Navah: What's up with butter cloth man?
Amy: This one I actually don't hate. The reason that I don't hate it, just to be even more specific, is this one is targeted to me. I am married, I do most of my husband's shopping and I like that they acknowledged that this is not for me. It's that they're targeting me to buy it for someone else. I think that's clever on their part.
On the flip side, I would say there are a lot of ways that this could go wrong. Just because I'm married doesn't mean that I'm married to a man. But I would say I would hope that they've tested this to get a sense of whether or not it works well.
They are trying to solve a problem by saying “guaranteed to make the man in your life look incredible” and that “my husband is obsessed with it and won't remove his shirt”. I don't necessarily know that those are the problems that I'm specifically trying to solve, but it's a good try in that they're trying to solve problems.
Navah: I do like that this is a subtitled video ad as opposed to forcing the user to listen to the video ad on Facebook. A very important mechanic to think about with your content is what is the user’s state of mind?
While we can talk about whether this ad is or is not great and can it convert, I do want to give them props for the subtitles and that they acknowledge that a Facebook video user is not going to really listen for the volume. They're going to engage with the creative first and then decide to turn on the volume. Let's move on: HomeField Apparel.
Amy: The reason that I like this one is because I am a Purdue fan so they acknowledge that. Even though it does take some extra legwork, your conversion rates will show it and it'll definitely be worth it. I also like that they say it's the most comfortable apparel that you'll ever own.
I would like if they made the headlines on the specific products different instead of having the same one for each. There's a lot of stuff that you can do dynamically with that if this is a dynamically populated ad, but even if it's not, you can still be more specific to that particular piece of apparel.
For products that are not expensive, I like when they include prices. When products are more expensive or luxury items, it also can make sense not to include the prices. That's something that I would at least suggest testing if I were them, but I would expect with t-shirts that it would fall into the realm of makes sense to include a price.
I also like that it includes a discount, although I liked that because I'm a consumer and I want that discount, but this was a prospecting ad and so you don't necessarily need to always go in with a discount as your first impression. I would say try to get that purchase initially without the discount.
Navah: We got one more. Then we're going to switch to the ads that came from a place of positivity.
Amy: We have this Facebook ad, it's one I actually like, and then the next two ads are going to be ones that are not as great, and I'll explain why. The reason that I like it is, I think that it combines a lot of really strong elements. It solves a problem for me. It knows that I'm a digital marketer and it's saying “make studio ads in minutes with Spotify ad studio”.
It doesn't go right into just a feature list, but it's just telling me ultimately, "the combination of our features will solve this problem for you." I like that it's really bright and it grabs your attention. It also has different customer testimonials, which is a really nice way to build up credibility.
Again, though, I feel in the headlines and in the descriptions, they have not come in as strong. That's still an opportunity to make a point and add a value proposition to try to get people to click through and try to get people to convert. Those are a little bit bland here, but ultimately I think this is a fairly strong ad.
Navah: I have a theory as to why those really ridiculous titles exist. People who are Google-first advertisers or Google-first marketers really struggle when it comes to the creativity that's for Facebook. People that are Facebook-first marketers I find struggle with the mechanics and the rules of engagement changes on Google. Speaking of text ads, Harry and David, this is so big and beautiful. What's wrong with it?
Amy: If you were brand new to Harry and David, this is a really good ad. It has really good content, it makes use of four different site links that are the expanded texts. It takes up a lot of real estate on the page, has seller ratings, it looks really good.
The reason that I don't particularly like it is because I actually have started a gift list with Harry and David and some of my gifts have been sent, some others I have a list of people that I need to give to, but I haven't finished sending my gifts. Yet when I see ads from them and as I'm doing searches, it doesn't acknowledge the fact that I have already been to their site.
To me, it's just a really big missed opportunity of all of the things that we've talked about today, which is that they definitely know that I am a person that should be sending more things through them and there's an opportunity to convert me to get me to do that.
They have pretty big audience pools. I have no doubt that they have an audience pool that's big enough for them to be customizing ads specific to people that have shown an interest by creating that list that haven't actually finished going through and completing those.
Navah: For the record, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have double the campaigns or double the ad groups, you can use those ad customizers to just swap out the creative.
We'll finish off reviewing this ad and then we'll open up to general questions. Amy, what's up with this? What do we love? What do we hate?
Amy: The ad itself is a decent ad. It's an ad for a subscription and it is somebody walking through what you would get with that subscription and it seems to be fairly authentic. It would seem to be coming from a subscriber. The problem is that this particular ad was telling you exactly what the subscription is and it was sharing exactly what types of stuff that you would get in the subscription. Then there was an offer for first-time subscribers and I'm already a subscriber.
Navah: Oh no.
Amy: That is just wasted money, especially on YouTube. It's wasted money to show me this ad when I didn't skip it cause I wanted to take screenshots so I'm sorry Boxy Charm, but you should exclude me so it's really your fault.
Navah: They're paying a price for not excluding you.
Amy: Not even just on YouTube where at least on YouTube I could skip it. I see their ads all the time on Facebook and it's the same thing where it's an explanation of what subscription is. This particular ad and the other ads just seem to be remarketing with no exclusions whatsoever. They're really focused on bringing in new subscribers. There's even a bonus for brand new subscribers, which they talk about in the video as well. I would not be qualified for that.
Key Takeaways: Using Audience Exclusions, Defining Buyer Personas, and More
Navah: It sounds like the major takeaway for everyone here if there's one thing that they take away is to audit your audiences and do not be afraid to exclude people who do not make sense. Having those hooks in place so that you're not bombarding people that you have already secured with the same messaging as people that you're prospecting with.
Navah: Do we want to just finish off with the one thing that we go tell people to do? I realize I just did that with the exclusions but do you want to maybe?
Amy: I'm combining two things into one thing. It would be to make sure that you have defined your personas and understand who they are. Part two would be taking those personas and getting a sense of what that purchase path looks like. Then mapping your ads and messaging to that to make sure that you're providing the best experience. Then using Google Analytics to monitor that as well and making changes as you need to.
Navah: My big takeaway is akin to yours. It's not just audit the path, but also the profitability of the personas that you're going after. Not every product or service makes sense to go after. It's not going to make sense for you to run a campaign for everything.
With that, we're a minute away. Thank you guys so much for joining us. Thank you SEMrush for hosting us. I'm Navah Hopkins over at WordStream. You can follow me on Twitter, connect with me, ask me any questions you didn't get the chance to ask @NavahF and Amy, do you want to sign off?
Amy: Thank you, everybody, for joining. I look forward to talking to you guys in the future.
Navah: Bye guys. Thank you.