Best Practices in Applying Analytics to Digital Marketing Campaigns for Retail

Analytics Retail Analytics Spotlights

The-Marketing-ScopeThe retail industry depends heavily on digital marketing, and consequently, that makes online advertising very competitive. The online marketplace brings additional challenges that don’t exist in the brick-and-mortar world. Products, prices and even competitors change rapidly, sometimes by the minute.

To have any hope of achieving a positive return on advertising expenditures, online retailers must analyze what is working and what isn’t. While most digital marketers have an analytics program, such as Google Analytics, in place, more than half of them aren’t using analytics effectively.

These issues were the focus of a conversation I had with Eric Vidal, an Editor & Chief Content Officer, on this episode of “Marketing Mash,” a video series produced by The Marketing Scope. Watch the video, “Why Digital Marketing Analytics Is Important for Retail Sales,” to learn some best practices in applying analytics to digital marketing campaigns.

Close Variant Matching: How to Know When “Close Enough” Is Good Enough

Close Variant Matching Spotlights

Horseshoes ClusterAbout 18 months ago, Google AdWords made a significant change in how keywords trigger ads. If you use Phrase and Exact Match ads, AdWords also now automatically uses Close Variant Matching. Previously, this was the default but you could – and many did – opt out of it. Now, that’s not possible.

What does this change mean and why should you care? We cover that in some detail in “Horseshoes, Hand Grenades…and Now Google Close Variant Matching,” which was originally published on The Social Media Monthly (February 2, 2015.)

The Social Media MonthlyBut the short answer is this change means your costs could rise and control over your keywords could drop – if you don’t actively manage your campaigns. For example, if you use “hard drive” in an ad group, it could be shown to people who search for “hardly driven” used cars. That’s not exactly an ideal prospect for you.

However, Close Variant Matching can be extremely beneficial to you by pulling in “hits” from people who misspell, mistype or fall victim to dreaded “autocorrect” errors. Close Variant Matching also accommodates abbreviations and acronyms, so you can gain exposure for some terms without having to pay for another keyword.

We explained this in the Google AdWords Workshop: How Consistent Evaluation & Consolidated Keywords Yield Greater Exposure with Your Prospects. You can review the presentation from that workshop below.

In many cases, “Close enough” might be good enough. That’s your call. Once you understand how Close Variant Matching works and how you can regain control over your Google AdWords campaigns, you’ll be in a better position to make the right decision for your business.

Nuts & Bolts: Why Mobile is Important to Your Paid Search Strategy

Analytics Mobile Nuts & Bolts

In this installment of the “Nuts & Bolts” series, which digs into the nitty gritty of paid search, I want to share with you some valuable findings on the importance of mobile in your paid search strategy.

In a PPC Workshop I presented recently, I outlined five ways analytics makes paid search campaigns better. Further, I recapped the three-part series on mobile search that explained the driving forces behind the explosion of mobile search (and why it will continue to increase), what this means to marketers, and how this affects your paid search strategy.

Links for further reading and learning occur throughout the slides. And if you would like to share the workshop, we’ve posted to SlideShare for your convenience. Just click on the LinkedIn button or the file’s title to be immediately signed into the SlideShare site.

A Year of Analytics, Mobility and Video

Analytics Mobile Nuts & Bolts Video

As we prepare to say farewell to 2015, we’d like to use this final FirstWord post of the year to say thanks to all the editors who published our articles. We focused on three major themes during the last 12 months – Analytics, Mobility and Video – and some of the finest digital marketing publications on the web were gracious enough to share our work.

Here are five of our favorites:

Why Digital Marketing Analytics Is Important for Retail Sales” – a video interview with Eric Vidal, editor of The Marketing Scope

TargetMarketingHow to Use Analytics to Improve the Performance of Your Digital Marketing Campaigns” – from the Measurement & Metrics section of Target Marketing

MarketingProfsFive Ways Google Analytics Turns You Into the Sherlock of Paid Search” – a column in MarketingProfs

Before Shooting for Video Marketing Success, Learn to Hit a Moving (i.e., Mobile) Target” – featured in the Executive Briefing from biz

CMLogoThink Before You Leap Into Paid Video Search” – from the Consumer Marketing channel of Chief Marketer

If any of these headlines catches our attention, practice the power of the click. Click on the links we’ve provided and visit these pages in support of the publications that support us.

Nuts & Bolts: Five Ways Analytics Make Paid Search Campaigns Better

Analytics Nuts & Bolts

For the December installment of our “Nuts & Bolts” series, I’d like to share one of our Google Analytics Workshops. The presentation – “Five Ways Analytics Make Paid Search Campaigns Better” – has three key takeaways:

  • Analytics help you see beyond the obvious and discover truth of your paid search campaigns
  • Analytics go beyond counting website visitors to assessing prospective buyers
  • Learn 5 useful metrics provided by Google Analytics for evaluating paid-search campaigns

Links for further reading and learning occur throughout the slides. And if you would like to share the workshop, we’ve posted to SlideShare for your convenience. Just click on the LinkedIn button or the file’s title to be immediately signed into the SlideShare site.

Taking Measure of Paid Video Search

Analytics Attribution Modeling Video

chart bustingVideo is rapidly becoming the preferred method for consuming content on the Internet. From Netflix to Facebook to the video “granddaddy” YouTube, video already accounts for 64 percent of all Web traffic, and that figure is expected to rise to 80% by 2019. Video presents a wide range of opportunities for savvy marketers. But like anything else, you need to be sure you have a reason for getting into paid video search.

Just like mobile marketing, you still need to get people to find your videos, then measure the effectiveness of each click. Tools are being introduced that make it easier to measure the effectiveness of paid video search. For example, Google is making a real effort to integrate the YouTube advertising platform into AdWords. They also have a product in beta called TrueView for Shopping that combines video with shopping feeds. Consumers can watch a video, click on a product image and shop right there.

That should help overcome one of the biggest objections, which is the lack of ability to directly attribute a purchase to a consumer watching a video. Currently, Google recommends using attribution modeling to measure the effectiveness of a video. With TrueView for Shopping, however, marketers will be able to use last-click conversion measurements much more effectively. Finally, you will be able to see hard data on which videos work and which fall flat. Do you need more explainer videos, or does your audience prefer humor? Is 30 seconds the ideal length, or are your prospects seeking long-form content?

Change in the way video is consumed

Perhaps one of the biggest factors contributing to the growth of video is the change in the way it’s consumed. Video viewing (think television) used to be controlled by the content providers.

Now anyone can watch what they want, when they want. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and their ilk have seen to that. Measuring the audience has been challenging, although Nielsen may have cracked the code on Netflix. On other sites, Google TrueView will ensure you’re paying only for actual views, rather than estimated viewership.

The net takeaway is consumers are not spending as much time flopping on their couch watching whatever is pushed to them. Instead, they are seeking out content on their own terms, and on a variety of devices. YouTube claims that advertisers have seen click-through rates for these more targeted ad videos that are 3-4 times higher than other video ad formats.

There’s always a “but…”

With all that going for it, why shouldn’t marketers just jump whole-hog into video? To be effective, at least at present, you need to be sure your attribution modeling is in place so you can judge the success of your paid video search. If it isn’t, you need to get that house in order first. Especially if your product or service is more of a considered purchase. Taking time to understand your audience and build the models will help you drive more value throughout your campaign.

Having a deeper understanding into which video ads work is, of course, a tremendous boon for marketers using that medium. But before you get to the point of placing video ads, you must produce the actual videos. While that doesn’t have to bust your budget, it isn’t always cheap. Are video ads right for your marketing plan?

As I said in my previous post, this is the time to recall the wise words of your mother: “If your friends were jumping off the roof, would you do it too?” Just like back in those days, you need to carefully consider the risks and measure them against the thrill of the leap. In my next post, I will give you some pointers to help you make that determination – “To video, or not to video?”

When It Comes to Paid Video Search, Listen to Mom

Analytics Attribution Modeling Video

In Video Search - Listen to your mom's adviceBy now you’ve probably heard the declaration that 2015 is the “year of video marketing.” The pundits declared it, the headlines have screamed and the actual numbers are certainly making a good case for it. Of course, all this talk is making marketers nervous as they fear they’re being left behind.

That’s why in times like these it’s important to remember the wise words of your mother.

Nearly all of us at one time or another begged to be allowed to do something or see something or go somewhere because all the other kids were doing it. And what was the universal response of all mothers everywhere? “If your friends were jumping off the roof, would you do it too?”

Yes, video is growing and presents a wide range of opportunities for savvy marketers. But like anything else, you still need to be sure you have a reason for getting into paid video search. Here’s a look at what’s driving the trend, as well as the factors that will help you decide whether it makes sense for your organization, and provide some ideas on what to do if it does.

Explosive growth

There is no dispute that video is rapidly overtaking text and images as the preferred method for consuming content on the Internet. Video already accounts for 64 percent of all Web traffic, and that figure is expected to rise to 80 percent by 2019.

Part of the reason for this growth is the continued use of mobile to watch video. For example, YouTube says half of all views of its content are on mobile devices. As more videos become mobile-friendly, and wireless connections get faster, you can expect that figure to continue to rise.

But it’s not just about greater availability. Forrester estimates that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text as far as the message communicated. That’s pretty attractive to marketers in their ever-present quest to break through the clutter.

The big attraction of video to marketers, though, is that it is currently the road less traveled. Traditional paid search has become ultra-competitive (and expensive), in part as a result of developments such as close variant matching (CVM). As search results are broadened to the “close enough” level, more marketers are jumping in. Since fewer organizations are taking advantage of video search, eyeballs can be acquired for a relative bargain. Mom would appreciate that thriftiness.

While these numbers may make your eyes bulge, remember – it’s not as simple as posting a clever cat video to attract your audience. (Though cat videos, inexplicably, always seem to do well.) Just like with mobile marketing, you still need to get people to your videos, then measure the effectiveness of each one. If you know the tools to use – and how to use them – you can track the path from a video view all the way through to a purchase.

In my next post, we will look at some of those tools and how savvy marketers are using them for last-click conversion measurements. This is one instance where Mom would encourage you to do what the other kids are doing.