The 7 Best Things We Learnt At Google Partners Masterclass
Recently Google held a Masterclass event at the Brisbane Convention Centre for agency members of their AdWords Partners program - the new initiative that they rolled out at the end of 2013 to replace the older AdWords Engage program which allows AdWords Professionals to gain certifications to prove their knowledge of best practices for managing AdWords campaigns on behalf of clients.
These Masterclass sessions are a semi-regular series that the Partners team at Google arranges to help give agencies the latest updates on AdWords and to share news about new features or optimisation techniques to make sure clients get the best value for their ad spend with Google.
For this session Google brought over Dave Booth, co-founder of Cardinal Path, to share some of his tips for optimising AdWords and general online marketing campaign, which he all wrapped up under the theme of "Work Smarter, Not Harder" as a way of encouraging marketers to make use of some very clever, but under-used, features in AdWords itself and in third party toolsets to help run campaigns more efficiently and to report more accurately on the successes and goals achieved by those campaigns.
Dave covered a whole lot of information during the day long event but these are the things that really stuck with us as we return to work at the Fastrack office and start looking for ways to use Dave's advice to make our AdWords services even more effective for our clients.
1. ADWORDS CALL TRACKING EXTENSIONS ARE COMING TO AUSTRALIA (soon-ish)
Although Dave was under orders from the folks at Google to hold back on giving a definitive date for the long awaited Call Extensions system to launch for AdWords clients in Australia, he was able to say that Google should be announcing these "in the next few weeks."
For those of you who don't know, these will differ from the current Call Extension option in AdWords by creating a unique phone number for your ads which relays on to your actual business number and will allow you to track not only if someone clicks on the "Click To Call" button on a mobile device (which is all the current version does) but also incorporate tracking of whether or not that phone call actually connects and how long the call lasts, meaning that we could set up a conversion goal to monitor for calls from these AdWords ads which last longer than 30 seconds (for example) as a way of confirming that they have resulted in a business lead.
2. ADWORDS CONSUMER RATINGS ANNOTATIONS AD EXTENSIONS
This is a brand new ad extension type which Google has just launched in the US and UK but isn't yet confirmed for Australia. It works by adding customer survey ratings as another option to run alongside your main AdWords ads, further encouraging searchers to click through on your ad rather than a competitor's.
While there's no clear timeline set for when these will be made available in Australia, Dave did point out that the Google-powered Consumer Surveys which will be used to fill in these extensions are available now and not very expensive to use, so it could be worthwhile setting up some surveys now to get a headstart on the competition when they do become available here.
3. VIEWABLE IMPRESSIONS FOR DISPLAY ADS
One of the big problems for advertisers using AdWords' Display Network is that traditionally it counts an impression for your ad as soon as the page it's on loads, regardless of whether it's shown in a lower position on that page ("Below The Fold") and the user never actually scrolls the page down far enough to see it.
With AdWords rolling out a new "Viewable Impressions" system, this will all change and an ad will only count as having had an impression if at least 50% of the ad is shown in the viewable portion of the user's browser for more than 1 second.
This is going to make a big difference to assessing the effectiveness of advertiser's Display campaigns as it'll be much more certain that the impression counts provided really do reflect people seeing the ads.
4. TRACK EVERYTHING
Dave also highlighted how important it is to make use of Google Analytics features like campaign tagging to make sure that you can effectively track traffic coming to your website from all of your marketing efforts and campaigns.
Using Google's URL Builder it's really easy to add these campaign tags to the links that you put in emails to your subscribers or links you share on social networks and even (with a little bit of extra though and some clever redirections) on the addresses you put into print adverts and promotions.
This all adds up to giving you and your marketing team a much clearer picture of how people are coming to your website and which ones are converting into business goals.
5. DON'T MISS THE BIGGER PICTURE OF WHERE YOUR CONVERSIONS COME FROM
It's easy to forget sometimes that Google Analytics conversion reports default to what's called "last click attribution" meaning that the source for each conversion reported is the most recent way a visitor came to your site before converting and this can sometime fail to take into account repeated visits from users before they take the final step to becoming a customer.
Using Analytics Multi Channel Funnel (MCF) conversions report can help to identify assisted conversions from sources before the customer's last click, so you may be able to see that someone who first came to your site from a click on a generically targeted AdWords ad later came back to your site from an organic search for your brand name.
Without accounting for this earlier step all you would know is that someone searched for you by name and made a purchase from your site. By using MCF to get the whole picture you can get a much better view of the whole conversion funnel and find out which marketing efforts contributed to that sale.
6. THE BENEFITS OF USING GOOGLE TAG MANAGER
One of the key Google Products that Dave talked about was Google Tag Manager, a system for more easily managing the abundance of different tracking codes that soon need to be added to a website once you start trying to measure your marketing properly.
Tag Manager means that you only need to have one standardised piece of code added to your website and then everything else, from Google Analytics to AdWords conversion codes and even third party solutions like Clicky or Woopra can all be added and managed through the Tag Manager interface without ever needing to go through the hassle of editing the code on your actual website.
Dave did go to pains to point out that "easier doesn't necessarily mean easy." and that it still needs some careful though and implementation to get the codes working the right way, but it does really streamline the process for updating or adding new tracking codes to websites.
7. WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
This was the theme of Dave's entire final session of the day as he shared the story of how he started Cardinal Path and the years of hard work (and occasionally misplaced priorities) that lead to the success it's become today. Along the way he shared some of the productivity tips that he's discovered over the years, including a few scripts for automating simple, but repetitive tasks for managing AdWords campaigns and some other tools and systems he uses to streamline the "manual labour" side of online marketing to focus more the doing and less time on data gathering and reporting.