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Reduce the Creepy with Remarketing Membership Duration

Google’s Remarketing has been a game changer to paid media since it’s launch in 2010. Features are constantly added every year. It’s because of these new features that customization and best practices are needed to keep from becoming that “creepy” ad that visitors fear.

Setting up a remarketing campaign is heavily dependent on business goals and industry behavior. Targeting is the difference between Remarketing and traditional display, but that targeting it also what concerns consumers. Like many tactics within Google AdWords, it’s all about the tweaking and the execution. One of those key tactics is Remarketing Membership Duration.

The key element to any remarketing campaign is the list, AKA the audience. A remarketing list is a essentially a collection of cookies from previous site visitors. The membership duration is the length of time you want to target this audience.

At the end of the duration period, the cookie is removed from the list. That visitor would no longer see ads that are using that audience list. If the user revisits the site the timing is reset.

Remarketing Membership Duration

Remarketing Membership Duration

The mistake many marketers make is extending the duration to the maximum amount of time. The maximum duration allowed for the Google Display Network is 540 days. That would likely mean that an ad could follow visitors around for a year. There is no value in annoying potential customers.

Determining Membership Duration
Unfortunately, like many things with paid media, there is no easy answer for everyone. Remarketing membership duration can vary by industry. A general rule of thumb is, the higher the purchase value the larger the membership duration.

Days to Transaction
A recommended way to determine membership duration length is knowing the average time it takes a visitor to convert. Google Analytics can help with that. The Days to Transaction and Sessions to Transaction fields in Google Analytics indicates the average number of days and sessions from the first website interaction to purchase. This helps a marketer understand how long it takes someone to convert. The Days to Transaction report can also be segmented. That allows the separation by products, categories, pages, or whatever makes sense per industry.

Google Analytics Days To Transaction

Google Analytics Days To Transaction

AdWords Video Remarketing

Video’s role in marketing is dramatically increasing every day. Recently, Twitter added promoted videos as an option. Last year, Facebook enhanced video metrics.

Video remarketing is another great option within Google Remarketing by opening up your audience to a much larger list. Expanding the audience provides great value when you have a list of people that have expressed interest in your services by watching a video. In fact, it’s not just video viewing. YouTube remarketing provides multiple actions that can be targets.

Available Remarking Actions

  1. Video view or interaction (likes, comments, shares)
  2. YouTube channel visit and subscription
  3. In-stream ad views

Linking AdWords and YouTube
The first step before starting any video remarketing is to make sure YouTube is connected to AdWords.

  • Choose Video Manager -> Channel Settings -> Advanced
  • Open your Google AdWords account in a new tab, sign in, and copy your Customer ID
  • Assign a name to the AdWords account. It’s often best to use the same name you are currently using for you for your existing AdWords account. This will prevent confusion when alerts our sent to all users that a name has been changed.
  • Set permissions for the account. I tend to allow all permissions. It provides more options down the road when looking for more targeting areas.

Creating a Video Remarketing Campaign
Once all the connectivity is working then the real fun begins. Now, you can setup AdWords campaigns that utilize your YouTube audience. This process becomes as easy as another remarketing campaign that you have setup in the past. Video viewers just becomes another audience option.

Video Remarketing Is More Than Video Ads
If you Google video remarketing all articles are quick to point out creating video ads for remarketing. It’s important to distinguish that video remarketing does not have to mean video ads. That’s certainly an aspect that can be used, but not a limitation. After the video marketing audience is built and grown to a significant number, the options are much wider than video ads. You can still create banner ads like you would any other remarketing campaign.

Dive into video remarketing. There is a wealth of data that can expand any audience.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads – Best Practices

If you have attended any of my presentations of have read any of my blog posts over the past 3 years, you’ll know that I am big fan of Remarketing. One recent new addition to Google is Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). This allows you to create unique search ads for previous site visitors.

Of course, I say “new”, RLSA was first introduced in 2013, allowing you to create unique messaging to previous site visitors. Being able to dive deeper into the search traffic, will allow you to create unique messaging and bidding strategies to previous site visitors. This opens the doors to multiple strategies:

You can bid on keywords that you don’t normally bid on just for people who have recently visited your site, or have converted on your site in the past. This can help you increase your sales. For example, you could bid on more generic keywords only for people who have previously purchased from your site.

You can optimize bids for your existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For example, you can increase your bid by 25% for those who previously viewed your website in the last 30 days. Or, you could show a different ad to site visitors who have placed items in a shopping cart but have not purchased them. – Source:

If you are using Remarketing, then you are practically already there. If not, then you should be. Stop here and implement Google Remarketing on your site. Below are several great posts on getting started with Remarketing

More on RLSA

Diving deeper into those AdWords Remarketing audiences, you will see a column called “List Size (Google search)”. It’s been there for a while and now may be the time to stop ignoring that column.

To use Remarketing with a search campaign, the audience needs to be associated with the campaign or AdGroup. Although, like most things with PPC, separation is key. I recommend creating a separate RLSA campaign. Measurement and comparative data is much easier measurable with separation and segmentation.

Best Practices for RLSA

Knowing how to implement RLSA is only the starting point, the real value is in the practical uses. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Use Unique Ads – Remember, these searchers have already been to your site. For whatever, reason they probably did not convert. Now, they are searching again. Give them something different. Show them a new message, new deal, new value, etc.
  2. Product Interest / Higher Bidding – If it’s clear that the audience has visited a product or service page, then you are more than half way there. Knowing there is interest helps tremendously. From there, it makes sense to increase bidding for product-specific ads.
  3. No Frequency Capping – One of my favorite features of Remarketing display ads is Frequency Capping. That allows you to reduce and maybe eliminate the “creepy” factor. If done well, users don’t feel like ads are following them around. Although, may not needed in search ad much, it’s still not available. To prevent searcher fatigue, use multiple messages.
  4. Go Broad – Normally within search campaigns, having too many broad keywords would result in higher spend and often lower conversions. It’s not the best spend of the dollar. However, going broad with RLSA is recommended. The audience is already narrowed down because of Remarketing. Opening up that search audience larger should result in even higher conversion rate.

Twitter Advertising Opportunities For Success

Looking to connect with your audience in a fresh, meaningful, and profitable way? As a marketer, of course you are! Whether you’re a novice (worry not, you’ll get up to speed in no time) when it comes to advertising on Twitter or it has been quite some time since you’ve last had your hands in the dashboard, there are a number of opportunities worth exploring that you may find quite helpful in reaching more people and accomplishing your goals. Keep reading for a breakdown of some ways you can utilize Twitter Ads to succeed.

Campaign Type Variations

Twitter Ads launched back in April of 2010 and campaign types back then, as you can imagine, were quite limited. Previously, there were only three options to get in front of users; promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends. Today, we have a wider variety of options to choose from depending on your goals. Here are the most current campaigns types you can set up:

  • Followers – If you’re looking to grow your community on Twitter, this is a great option to tell users why they should follow you. Run ads that share something relevant, useful, or interesting to entice Twitter users to follow your account. With this type of “promoted account” your ads will be displayed in user timelines as well as in suggestions for “who to follow”. With this type of campaign, I typically encourage clients to use the smallest portion of their budget, as others have a stronger call to action, obtain user data, or drive users directly to your website and would have a higher ROI. The others below would benefit from having a larger portion of your budget to work with. While this type is helpful in growing your fan base,  it doesn’t usually drive immediate users directly to your site.
  • Website Clicks or Conversions – If your goal is to drive traffic to your website and increase conversions such as purchases or sign ups, this campaign type is most excellent. Here, users will see your ads in their timelines and in Twitter search results. In addition to doing this, set up retargeting campaigns so that you can continue marketing to those who may not complete an action on your site that you were hoping they would from your ad.
  • Tweet Engagements – Perhaps you’re looking to reach more people and drive engagement rates through retweets, replies, and favorites. This option is fantastic for increasing conversations happening around your tweets. With this, your audience will see tweets in their timelines and in Twitter search results as images or Twitter Cards.
  • App Installs or Engagements – Many users view Twitter on their mobile devices. If you want to drive conversations and downloads, use this option to get people to open or better yet, install your mobile app. As you would expect, this ad type is seen only in mobile timelines. As an extra bit of advice from personal positive ROI experience, test a strong call to action such as “DOWNLOAD” or “INSTALL NOW” in the copy of your promoted tweet.
  • Leads on Twitter – Lastly, if your mission is to collect emails from users who express interest in your business, this is an effective way to acquire leads. To launch this type of campaign, a lead generation card must be first set up, which doesn’t take long and the UI to do so makes the process quick and painless.

Bonus Targeting Criteria

In addition to targeting by location and gender, you may also target users by keywords, usernames, if they are on a brand new device or carrier, TV markets (country, shows, networks, genres), or even by interests, and behaviors. Talk about an exciting collection of targeting options!

Newer to this collection are interests and behaviors. Interest options vary from beauty, education, careers, family, events, life stages, pets, technology, and more. With behaviors, you can target around automotive, finance, lifestyle, retail brands, seasonal, and other behaviors which break down further, as seen here:

I find it particularly interesting that you can target by new devices or carriers. By doing this, you can reach users who use Twitter for the very first time on their new mobile device or carrier. Within this option, you can also include and exclude people who qualify for this within a certain time span, such as in the last month. If you are marketing a mobile app, this would be a perfect opportunity to get in front of a user who just purchased a new device and would more likely be interested in downloading some new apps.

Retargeting Multiple Ways

Lastly, if your users don’t initially convert, it’s not a lost cause. With Twitter Ads, there’s not one, but two ways to do retargeting; directly from Twitter through tailored audiences or through a third party provider such as AdRoll. For instance, say you are a mobile app company, people have been clicking and opening your app through other campaigns, but haven’t yet installed your app. To set up retargeting directly through Twitter Ads to acquire more app downloads, add tailored audiences through the “Tools > Audience Manager” drop down in the navigation, and then in your new campaign set up,  click on “Add Tailored Audiences” to select your web or mobile app list, but be sure to exclude people who already downloaded your app so they don’t continue seeing your ads. If your list size is small, you can also expand to reach similar users under audiences in your campaign to add more volume.

If you are working with a third party provider, you will have to place retargeting tags on your website to begin collecting users. Your third-party account manager will usually take care of synching audiences to Twitter from their end. All you then have to do is go into your Twitter Ads UI and create a new campaign and add the audience “from the web” that will show up under tailored audiences. If you plan to set up both types of retargeting campaigns via Twitter, set up separate campaigns to better track performance and budget, as they may vary.

There is plenty of room to get creative, reach the right people, and get them to convert. While sales may not always happen on the first click, social ads are still an important part of the funnel. Your audience is most likely there, give it a go and get in front of them by using Twitter to test out a campaign or two.

Facebook Atlas – No cookies, better targeting, still creepy?

I’ve been known to discuss creepy marketing for years. Of course, I use the word creepy often tongue and cheek. I don’t find remarketing that creepy at all. It’s a well targeted approach to advertising that actually benefits the potential customer much more than traditional advertising.

Facebook Ads

In 2012, I provided tips on being less “creepy” with remarketing at PubCon. Most recently, I discussed some creative ways to use Google Remarketing in conjunction with Facebook Interest. At the time, Google was great at remarketing, but not great enough on user interest and demographics. Facebook had the user details and demographics, but not the reach that Google had. Maybe that’s changed now.

Facebook relaunched Atlas and that may be the missing piece of that puzzle. In February, 2013 Facebook confirmed the purchase of Atlas from Microsoft. Atlas is an ad-serving platform that will allow Facebook ads to show on sites, outside of Facebook. This is not a new platform, but it is newly built:

“We’ve rebuilt Atlas from the ground up to tackle today’s marketing challenges, like reaching people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.” –

Facebook calls this People Based Marketing. This is essentially what Google Remarketing is. It targets people, not sites. But Google Remarketing could have cornered this market if Google+ would have taken off like they hoped. Facebook and Atlas now have the advantage of a much larger group of users to pull from. Great for advertisers … and maybe consumers too.

One of the highlights of the Facebook Atlas announcement was the lack of cookies the platform will use. For the longest time the solution to tracking of any sort online has been through cookies. In short, this is why those “creepy” ads know what you want and when you want it. However, cookies are a problem with mobile browsers and becoming more irrelevant outside of the US. It was only a matter of time before all cookie tracking is removed.

Facebook Atlas

Image credit

Atlas will use demographic details, interest, and all of that other information that we have been providing Facebook for years to target us, without cookies. Atlas will also be able to track users across multiple devices. Something that Google cannot do.

Plus, Atlas will connect offline behavior to online behavior. For example, if you use your email address at retail shop. That can be connected back to your Facebook account. That same store will be able to show you online ads. Don’t think you use your email address? How about all of those loyalty cards in your wallet?

Of course, this always leads to more privacy concerns. That’s a discussion that’s nothing new for Facebook, but yet here we are again. There is no doubt that Facebook wants to compete with Google and its DoubleClick ad network. Google is the big leader in this space, but without cookies and better audience tracking, Facebook is now in the discussion.

Getting to Know Your New PPC Account

At some point in time as a PPC manager you inherit an account. It may be from another agency or from an independent contractor, and it may be because the client was unhappy with the results, wants to change things up, or it’s an internal switch.

Like any successful relationship, the key is to honestly communicate from the start to establish trust between the yourself and the client. It is worth taking the time to get to know the client and how you can best impact the account and their business.

Ask Questions and Get to Know the Business
Having an in-depth conversation to clearly understand the client’s goals, expected results and expectations is the first step. PPC is just one piece of marketing, so understanding how it fits into their overall business strategy and knowing what factors affect their bottom line is essential.

Get to know the business specifics like:

  • Is there a seasonality to the business?
  • What is the sales cycle? A week, a month, a few hours?
  • What is the average value of a sale?
  • What is the average value of a lead?
  • Who is their target market? Who matters to them?
  • Who is the competition?
  • What is the brand known for?
  • What marketing messaging has been successful in the past?
  • What has been unsuccessful in the past, what have they learned?

Establish Metrics for Success
Understand the KPI’s of the business so together you can develop realistic goals that will enhance the bottom line. What their established KPI measurements are and what they should be aren’t always align, so work together to create practical goals for the short term and long term. I prefer 1 month, 6 month and 12 month goals, which can be update as the campaign moves forward.

Understand the sales process of your client including:  

  • What is considered an online conversion? An online sale, a sign-up, perhaps a phone call?
  • What is the average number of conversions per week, per month? How many of those are driven from PPC vs. other channels?
  • How do you measure success, is it reasonable?
  • What are the benchmarks they want to achieve in the next month, 6 months and year?
  • What reporting do they prefer? Weekly or monthly emails and updates? In-depth reviews?

Jump Into It
Once you know the business, understand their goals and the metrics that the PPC campaign will be measured on, it’s time to jump and review the campaign itself.

Don’t make changes just yet, now is the time to take notes and learn about the account in its current state:

  • Take note of campaign and ad group structures.
  • Run reports on top keywords, look for trends. 
  • Do an audit of both duplicate keywords and negative keywords.
  • Review campaign settings including ad scheduling, geo targeting, device settings, networks, bid types and budgets.
  • Review keywords and match types.
  • Test and take note of landing pages.
  • Check to see what ad extensions are in play.
  • Review dimensions of each campaign and ad group.
  • Check display network audiences, topics, placements and exclusions.

Take notes about the campaigns and write down questions that you have for the client. This is also the time to export reports, and take snapshots of dashboards or KPIs so you can create campaign benchmarks to measure against in the future.

With clear communication, research and planning, you can start off on the right foot to being campaign cleanup and optimization.

What is Facebook Exchange?

Facebook continues to roll out more and more advertising options, one of the newer platforms is Facebook Exchange (FBX).

Facebook Exchange  is a cookie based ad targeting system that shows ads related to users web searches and website visitors in real time via Facebook as well as remarketing to users who have visited your site.

While the idea of remarketing isn’t new, concentrating ads on a website that you know people will visit paired with real-time results makes Facebook Exchange a powerful marketing tool.

Not only does Facebook Exchange  help you reconnect with visitors to your site, it will also serve ads on Facebook to users whose demographic profile and search history match your typical buyer.

Is Facebook Exchange right for you? 
Surely you have customers on Facebook, but Facebook Exchange isn’t right for everyone quite yet.

Start with your marketing objective, if it’s a conversion off of Facebook then yes. If it’s brand awareness then not necessarily, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Page Post ads are a better solution for that.

If your website doesn’t receive a high volume of visitors or conversions, it also may be difficult to target new users whose behavior matches those of your customers. But in that case, Facebook’s Interest Targeting is a good option to cultivate new visitors.

But don’t let either of those reasons discourage you, Facebook Exchange is a game changer. Currently it is available through a few partner platform companies, but Facebook Exchange should be on your rader for marketing tools in the near future.

Google Remarketing using Facebook Interest

There have been a lot of changes to Google AdWords over the past 10 years, but for the most part it’s essentially been an active advertising strategy. PPC via AdWords works extremely well when targeting the correct keywords. Google AdWords does not necessarily create demand for products or services, it captures it. This is why pay-per-click is such a high return channel.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

However, Facebook advertising is a different approach. Facebook allows advertisers to tap into users’ demographics and interest. We’ve all see these ads. Often times, these ads cling on o something we have “Liked”. This type of advertising captures users at the early stages of the buying cycle. It’s creates awareness. Like Google, Facebook ads are also a pay-per-click format. Advertisers pay for every click an ad receives.

We have different approaches when comparing Facebook and Google. Both are effective and have a role in a complete online marketing strategy. For the most part these are separate entities, but using Google’s Remarketing these efforts can now be combined.

What is Remarketing? – “Remarketing can help you reach people who have previously visited specific pages on your website as they visit other sites on the Google Display Network.” –

Using Google’s remarketing tool as its designed allows advertisers to “re-target” prior visitors. As it is, it’s a great marketing avenue and worth pursuing. However, remarketing is dependent on getting the right users to visit your site. That’s where Facebook targeting comes in handy.

By creating ads using Facebook’s ad platform, marketers can target specific interest. In turn, they can send those consumers to a unique landing page. This is where Google comes into play. Google Remarketing allows advertisers to tag these visitors and essentially create an audience. That audience can then be retargeted later.

For example, as a Facebook advertiser you can target women runners. You can do that by defining your Facebook audience by users who are female and, like “marathon running”, “triathalon”, “running”, “adidas”, “runners world”, etc. The targeting group is Facebook is endless and can really give you a precise look at a consumer.

Creating ads for this “women runner” audience would lead to a landing page on a website. Within that landing page is the Google Remarketing code needed to create your Google audience. Now, that the audience has been created. From there, very-targeted ads can be shown throughout the Google Display Network. Why show ads for women’s shoes to anyone else, other than this audience?

This is just touching the surface on how to combine these two great tools. Google audience creation is the heart and soul of this type of type of campaign. I’d love to hear your opinion on how these two channels can be used together.

Tips to Improve Your Remarketing Campaigns

AdWords remarketing is a powerful way to reconnect with customers after they have left your website. Whether you are looking to increase conversions or brand awareness, remarketing can provide a unique opportunity to communicate a targeted and relevant message.

Every website has a different type of customer, varying buying cycles and seasonality, so it’s important to test remarketing ads, then test again, and again to learn what works for you. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips to rev up your remarketing ads.

1) Be a Scientist.
Test remarketing ads and be logical about it. Test by changing calls-to-action, messages, photos, graphics, offers, landing pages, ad formats, and length of cookies. Don’t change all of the variables at the same time, pick a few to test and keep notes of the changes you made in a document along with screenshots. While AdWords and Analytics can provide the raw numbers, it’s up to you keep track of changes, hypotheses, formulas, conclusions and to interpret the data.

2) Collect Audiences.
It’s not necessary to have an active retargeting ad campaign to collect an audience from your website’s traffic; this provides an opportunity to collect an audience who you can remarket to later. For example, you could create and collect an audience who only looks at pages on your website that are about cat hats but does not make a purchase; remarket to this audience later when cat hats are on sale or when you get a new brand of cat hats. You know that at some point they were interested, so remind them about your products present an enticing offer. There are billions ways to segment and collect audiences, so keep your goal in mind and work backwards.

3) Check Placement Reports.  
Look at your remarketing reports to see where your ads are being placed on Google’s Display Network. Check that ads aren’t showing up on websites that don’t compliment your brand or that have a super high bounce rate, and use negative placements to avoid showing up there again.  Also review placement reports for websites  that are converting well, if any really stand out consider putting them in their own ad group.

The AdWords remarketing platform continues to improve and, along with Google Analytics, can be a powerful tool in your online marketing tool belt.