Crealytics Insights


Break down silos in ecommerce to drive performance

Go Beyond Standard RLSA lists

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads have always had an important role in the optimization process ever since their release in 2012. Every PPC manager worth his salt, has spent many an hour playing around with list definitions and using them as a bid modifiers.

As marketers, those lists make our lives a whole lot easier. Not only are they a powerful opportunity for segmenting, they also provide a rare optimization element whose borders we can define and refine to our heart’s content. We can add, exclude or create combinations of lists focused on specific behaviors and use them for our ads as long as the number of the users in the lists reach 1000 for 30 days (with a few policy limits).

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Benchmark your Google Shopping Remarketing Performance with this simple script

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match have been proven to drive incremental revenues of 18% or more.

At Crealytics, we’ve seen many accounts and we developed a few rule-of-thumb benchmarks that give us an idea of how much potential we can unleash by fine-tuning the Remarketing strategy – be it via RLSA or Customer Match.

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How to check your RLSA configuration

It is crucial for every PPC manager to properly set up audience lists and their bids. Unfortunately, since there are various targeting criteria with infinite possibilities, it’s easy to make mistakes during the audience creation process.

Our tests suggest that used correctly, bid modifiers on audiences can increase revenue by 16% while keeping ROAS stable. So it’s definitely worth taking the time to get your audience lists setup right.

In this blog post, we’ll share some tips and common mistakes to avoid when creating audience lists.

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A printable cheat sheet to essential RLSA and Customer Match audiences

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match have proven to drive incremental revenues of +18% and more, all while keeping ROAS stable.

One important key to making Audience Remarketing for Google Shopping work is to know which essential audience lists you should define and use.

At Crealytics, we’ve analyzed and optimized many Google Shopping accounts. As a result, we’ve developed a checklist that contains the most important RLSA and Customer Match audiences we typically create and optimize.

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Understanding audience targeting tools and when to use them

The world of paid search is shifting. Advertisers are slowly moving away from targeting search queries to targeting audiences.

It’s not about just showing the right ad anymore. You need to show the right ad to the right user.

In order to take full advantage of this shift, you need to know

  1. Where is the user in the conversion funnel?
  2. What audience tool targets the right kind of user?

This article will walk you through the different audience tools available and how you can use them to reach the right customer at the right time.

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How to make most of Audience Remarketing using RLSA and Customer Match on Google Shopping

The customer journey has become more and more complex. People tend to navigate between Google and a retailer’s website multiple times before they convert. According to our analysis, 46% of Shopping ad conversions have three or more clicks through to the retailer’s website from Google Shopping. Which makes it essential that you keep your brand front and center in the customer’s mind each time they search.

The good news is, Performance Marketers can act on this customer journey using Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match. These tools make it possible to bid differently on shoppers who have interacted with your website and are searching for something relevant on Google again.

Crealytics A/B tests on the incrementality of Audience Remarketing have shown that bidding higher on people deeper in the conversion funnel drives incremental revenues of around 18% or more.

Done right, you’re not just making the sales you would have made anyway with a higher price bid, you’re actually increasing the number of sales generated by targeting highly relevant shoppers.

Take Audience Remarketing to the next level

Google Shopping is ideal for running Audience Remarketing at scale. This two-minute video provides you with an overview of how we bottled up the combined experience of our PPC experts at Crealytics into an automated solution that lets you leverage the full potential of Remarketing.

Crealytics customers have been able to benefit from the Audience Remarketing optimization since April 2016. If you have any questions, thoughts, comments or just want to chat about RLSA, feel free to reach out to your Crealytics account manager to discover more.

Not a Crealytics customer yet? To learn more about how our Smart Shopping Automation tool can help you get the most from your campaigns, get in touch with us on hello@crealytics.com and we’ll be more than happy to tell you all about it!

How are your RLSAs doing right now?

To make it easy to evaluate the current state of your Audience Remarketing Google Shopping campaigns, we’ve put together these resources designed to help you check this task off your list.

More on RLSAs

For more on how to make the most of your audience lists, check out these other great resources.


How to find the mistake in your Google Shopping account

Has the performance of your Shopping campaigns ever changed suddenly with no obvious cause?

If it has, don’t worry. You’re not alone. As a campaign manager, you probably do multiple adjustments a day, many of which won’t show their whole impact for several days. So when something goes wrong, you might need to do a little digging into your performance to spot the mistake and solve the issue.

Here’s how to systematically check your account and find the problem:

Do you have a disapproved Shopping feed or products?

The first step when you see a big performance change in your Shopping campaigns is to log into your MerChant center and use the diagnostics tab. Check to see if there are any disapproved accounts, feeds or items and make sure that all your products are included in the feed and ready to serve.

Are there wrong negatives attached?

If there is a massive change in the overall amount of impressions your account is receiving or if you see search terms in product groups where they shouldn’t be, you may have the wrong negatives in place.

In any case, it’s good practice to review your negatives regularly to ensure you don’t have seasonal negatives place or have excluded profitable search terms.

Do you have the right priorities in place?

If you use our query-level campaign segmentation method to filter your traffic into the right campaign for the right bid, you should check that your traffic split is working. Google always serves the highest priority first, so getting this right is essential.

Check change history for major changes

If your performance change is based on settings and not linked to disapprovals, check the change history for the timeframe when the performance change occurred. Using this information, you can investigate which change might have caused your issue.

You also can compare the performance on an hourly basis to pinpoint exactly where things may have gone awry. Go into the dimension tab and chose the view “Hour of the day” compared to the day before. You’re looking for bids that have been decreased or increased heavily or some other setting change like an added/removed RLSA bid modifier, Device modifier, etc.

Is there an external factor?

Performance changes aren’t always due to something going wrong within your AdWords account. External factors can also have a big impact.

  • A competitor starts offering the same product at a cheaper price or is running a special sale that includes this product.
  • A top selling product runs out of stock and you can’t serve your performance driver.
  • Something in the market changes and there was a decrease in requests for the corresponding product.
  • Google releases an update or changed the format.

This illustration demonstrates the internal and external effects that can influence your account`s performance.

Avoiding problems before they happen

To avoid poor performance, you should check your Merchant Center at least once a day to check for disapproved ads. We also recommend you setup email alerts within the AdWords interface to be instantly informed about big performance changes.

To preserve your sanity, don’t do any intense bid management tasks on Friday or before you go on vacation – you don’t want to be tracking the impact of your changes at the weekend!

Last but not least, in order to accurately attribute performance changes to the right factor, it’s important that you don’t make too many changes at once.

What other factors do you think contribute to campaign performance problems? Let us know in the comments below!


Image testing in Google Shopping: the next frontier

Any digital marketer worth their salt knows that testing, measuring and iterating are the three pillars of a successful strategy.

Google Shopping, however, has proved somewhat resistant to this strategy. Unlike other methods of PPC, it’s technically not possible to properly split test alternative titles by showing two different versions of the same ad simultaneously to different people.

The obvious workaround is to compare two different time periods, and while that does come with some challenges, it’s still possible to draw significant conclusions. To help ensure the different time periods aren’t the reason for any uplift/downswing, we also analyze the total performance of all the products over the whole time period.

In their simplest form, Shopping ads are made up of a Product title, description, category, and image. We’ve had significant success in testing the first three over the years – you can read about those findings here – but image true testing has remained somewhat elusive.

In this post, we’ll discuss the current challenges associated with image testing, what testing we’ve done thus far and the insights we’ve derived.

Image testing challenges

An image can tell you far more about a product than a title or a description and a good one is key to catching the attention of would-be customers. Images are widely believed to be the most important factor in shoppers choosing to click on an ad.

Image testing looks to be the next game-changer for click-through and conversion rates, but it’s still a bit of a black box. This is largely due to three factors that make images difficult to test: categorization, image displays, and time lag.

Image categorization

The first issue comes down to how you categorize your images, to begin with. In fashion, for example, a basic image test would be to see whether images with a model perform better than images with just the product in them. However, if you haven’t already categorized your images in this way already, it will be difficult to know which images to change.

Ideally, you’d change all the images in an entire category. But this also means you need to have an image of both types for every product in that category. Which you may not have, especially if you sell products from other brands.

Image categorization is time-consuming and largely manual. However, without accurate categorization, you won’t be able to run a conclusive test.

Conclusion: Spend time categorizing your images along all the lines you think you’d want to test them

Image display

While image categorization is something completely within your control, whether or not your image is even shown by Google is not.

On the main SERP (Search Engine Results Page) each of the (up to 8) products shown has an image. However, in the Shopping tab products get clustered into just one offer list. This usually happens when multiple retailers sell the same product.

Effectively, what this means is that you cannot be sure your image is being shown – making accurate testing very difficult.

Conclusion: Unfortunately there’s no real workaround for this as you don’t have any control over which image is shown and where. For more general tests you could test only exclusive products not sold by anyone else, in which case you can be sure that your image is displayed

Time lag

Another factor out of your control which makes image testing difficult is the time lag. In this instance, time lag refers to the amount of time after you change the image on your website for Google to change the image on your Shopping ad.

It can take up to 72 hours for Google to index a new image when the accompanying URL is changed. If you don’t change the URL and instead do a server-side image swap, re-indexing the image can take up to 6 weeks!

This time lag makes image testing take a while because, in order to accurately measure the effect, you need to wait for all the images to be indexed and then run your test, change them, wait for the re-indexing and run the test again. The whole process could potentially take months.

Conclusion: Make sure your images have changed before you start collecting data for your test – wait at least 72 hours.

Image testing and insights

Despite the challenges accurate image testing presented, we were able to run a test that gave us an interesting insight into an image’s potential to boost a campaign.

The data we used came from two retailers in the fashion industry. For this first iteration, we looked at the effects of using images that featured a modeled product and a product in isolation.

In total, we changed around 1800 images. Up to 40 million impressions were taken into account, and we overlooked any products that were not consistently available. To help measure the true impact of the new image, we also ran a control stream as a baseline.

Interestingly, we found that while in some cases changing the image had a significant impact on the CTR, in other cases it had very little effect.

When we dug a little deeper we found that whether or not an image change had a significant effect depended on the other images it was displayed beside in Shopping. If the image types in Google Shopping varied regularly (ie there was a roughly equal amount of images with and without a model), there was no significant benefit in having the image feature a model.

On the other hand, if most of the other Shopping images featured products on their own, it was beneficial to have an image that stood out (ie one with a model). We observed a 27% increase in CTR when our image stood out.

This presents another major issue with image optimization: knowing what sort of image will stand out. Figuring out what the most commonly displayed images look like for the top 1,000 products you sell presents plenty of its own challenges.

So close, and yet, so far

As Google gets better and better at figuring out synonyms and directing traffic to the right products, optimizing your product titles will get more and more difficult. Images have the potential to fill that gap.

The potential for image testing goes far beyond whether or not the image contains a model. Perhaps certain product colors stand out more than others. Or image background (white, color, scene) could be important.

For now, it appears that simply having an image that stands out from the competition in some way has the greatest effect. But as we pointed out before, even that isn’t an easy thing to figure out and optimize for.

There’s a long way to go before we get the full picture of what an image does to your campaign. And, honestly, it seems like we may need a few changes from Google before true testing and optimization are possible.

Nevertheless, we’ll keep plugging away at it to see what we can find out. We’ll keep you posted!

What do you think of image testing?


Department stores: a practical paid search guide to launching new markets

Last month, we explored the importance of launching paid search campaigns in different languages. In short: if people who don’t speak your native language buy from your store, your ability to target them with ads in their own language gives you a significant competitive advantage. But how do you actually launch new markets? For department stores who stock a range of products from different designers it can seem like a gargantuan task.

To launch paid search activity in a new market (Text Ads, Google Shopping or both), you need to be well prepared.  If you want to avoid AdWords creeping into your dreams whilst your launch date keeps getting postponed, here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get it right.

To keep things practical, we’ve based this guide on a real-life launch from one of our British clients who launched a new French account for their well-known department store.

By following the steps below, you’ll be well-equipped to take advantage of new, promising markets through your Text Ads and Google Shopping activity in no time.

Before you launch

Hold up! Before you dive in, there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to be done. Launching successfully in a new market is all about preparation, so here’s how to get ready and set up like a pro.

1. Start early

Plan ideally two months in advance of the official launch date.  Make sure you have qualified resources in place, like a native speaker who can help with accurate translation and a multilingual website to receive traffic from the paid search activity.

2. Analyze

Be sure to analyze potential markets before making a decision. Ask yourself if it will be beneficial to tackle a brand-new territory, or go local in one of your most important regions. Look at performance metrics, such as clicks, impressions, CTR, cost and revenue, to help you make the best choice.

It’s crucial that you understand your company’s existing markets, as well as the new market you are attempting to enter. This involves evaluating any potential financial and economic implications of your expansion.

3. Keyword research

Start first with your brand campaigns, as these generally catch the most traffic and don’t need as much optimization as the others.

To build designer campaigns, you need to recognize all designers featured on your online store as keywords.

Finally, assemble your generic campaigns with the products you are selling online. This helps ensure that a significant number of search terms can convert.

You could also create long-tail keywords for your best-performing designers. For this task, you can take examples from pre-existing designer campaigns. Don’t produce long-tail keywords for every designer though, because they are more specific and tend to receive less search traffic. You can also use localized SQs (Search Queries) which are already performing well for existing campaigns in your native language.

Negative keywords are also important if you don’t want to spend money on undesirable search terms.

You might also want to translate ads from your existing account. Just remember to check if the name of your brand or designers have different meanings in the new language.

4.  Consider different designers

Align with every designer listed on your site regarding ad copy guidelines, so that any vocabulary that is specific to them can be defined. In the case of our client, we had to use the word “order” instead of “buy”, and “polyvalent” rather than “easy to wear”. The capitalization of letters might also be different in other languages, as well as the format of delivery costs.

Be careful with trademark issues too. Some designers may not whitelist you, thus prohibiting you from using their name in your ad copy. They might also request that you state clearly in the ads that yours is not the official website for their products.

Checking requirements like these goes beyond ad copy, including changes to elements such as ad extension or link structure. For instance, the word “shoes’’ used in a Final URL for our client had to be changed to the French ‘’chaussures’’. Cover all your bases.

Setting up the campaign

So, you’ve checked and double checked the preparations, and you’re ready to take this launch to the next level. Setup is one of those things that takes patience and a good eye for detail. Go steady and make sure you have the following covered…

1. Language

Don’t forget to change the language settings in the original account. You should exclude the new target language (in our account, the French one), from the original account settings. Failing to do this may result in your new Text or Google Shopping ads not displaying.

2. Bidding

Bid modifiers are an essential part of deciding where, when and how you want your ads to appear. Ads perform differently in each country, which means it’s necessary to alter their setup accordingly. There are different bid modifiers to look at when you make these changes: device, location, ad scheduling and RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads) – the impact of each should be analyzed to ensure the best performance in your new market.

To create the location bid modifiers in our own example, we made a geo analysis and added a positive bid adjustment for French cities generating high revenue and bearing a low COS. We added a negative percentage for cities performing badly. Paris, as the fashion capital, bears most of the traffic, and its bid was adjusted accordingly as you can see in the table below.

During launch

The show isn’t over once you hit launch; this is an ongoing process that needs care and attention to get it safely off the ground. Here are some tips to ensure your campaign stays on track once it’s live.

1. Tracking

Ensure new campaigns are tracked in your reports. It sounds obvious, but if they’re not included and set up correctly from the start, everything will be skewed. Check your existing report interface and template to make sure you’re correctly tracking activity.

2. Run SQRs

You should regularly run SQRs (Search Query Reports), using the results to help constantly build new keywords, adgroups and campaigns, and add negatives. The frequency of these queries will depend on the traffic your campaigns are capturing as well any additions to your website’s product offering.

3. Bid up aggressively

Push your bids – especially for mid and long-tail keywords – to drive as much traffic as possible through your campaigns at an early stage. This will make it easier for you to make relevant bidding decisions in the upcoming weeks.

Tip: Push designers or products which are important for your brand and revenue.

Also, be aware that new markets need more budget to gain traction, so prepare to funnel more spend towards these accounts to achieve best performance.

4. Analyze your bid modifiers’ performance

Regularly analyze your mobile bids, because it’s likely that their behavior in another language/region is different. To make changes on a bid level, don’t hesitate to optimize ad scheduling, which helps you manage the amount being spent according to performance and demand.

When helping our client expand into France, we decided after one month to increase the mobile bid modifiers for the designers that generated significant revenue. We also added ad scheduling with a higher percentage on Sundays – the day with the highest revenue.

5. A/B test new ad copy

To find the catchiest ad copy for your new market audience, make sure to test different USPs (Unique Selling Propositions). You can use the Lab Tab in Google AdWords to run different experiences and implement them if they show positive potential. The moral of the story: always experiment!

Little changes which might not seem relevant could make a huge difference, so play with  different Paths until you get the perfect mix.

6. Compare the performance of top areas

Here we can show from our own example how to compare performance of the top areas.

Clicks per category

Clicks_new_market

 

One month after  launch, we observed that the clicks in the new French account (FR/FR) increased by 2429% compared to the  original English one (FR/EN), which considerably decreased. We predicted this outcome, because the likelihood of people in France searching with French – rather than English – terms is higher. The English ads are still delivering a minimal amount of traffic for the small number of non-French searches still taking place.

Clicks per device

Clicks_per_device

We noticed a similar effect on different device levels, with mobile capturing the biggest cut of the traffic. From this insight, we could deduce that in France, French-speaking consumers tend to search using mobile, whilst non-French-speaking consumers search more actively on desktop/laptop.

Top Designers

Top_designers_new_market

The new French account also yielded more traffic thanks to the higher budget. We also observed the recurrence of one particular designer in both accounts, who appeared to be of French origin.

Conclusion

Looking at the results from our example with the UK department store, the launch of the client’s localized account was a success, triggering more traffic than the English one. We had to be patient when waiting to see any clear results, because when launching a new market, it can take weeks before the campaigns generate revenue.

Through our example, we also came to recognize that the top designers in one market may well perform differently in another new market. With this in mind, it’s important to stay on top of any bid optimizations that need to take place because of this divergence.

Keys to success

For search marketers attempting to expand into new markets, there are many steps to take, especially in the early setup stages of the account. The most important things to remember are:

  • You can’t be frugal – launching new markets requires extra budget to get them off the ground.
  • Experiment! – you have a lot to learn about your new market, and the best way to go about it is to test and experiment until you find out what works best.
  • Always employ negative keywords – you don’t want to waste money.
  • Focus on audiences and locations that yield the best performance – using bid modifiers to squeeze the most out of your top performers is a solid strategy.

If you’re thinking about launching Google Shopping activity in new markets, we’ve developed Camato to remove as many layers of manual work as possible. By automating campaign structuring and bid management, you’re left with more time to get to know your new customers.

Thinking of expanding into a new market? We can help.


How to adjust Google Shopping bids based on product performance

There are many scenarios in which Google Shopping campaign managers would love to have a special Bid Management strategy that allows them to influence product ad impression levels for certain products, brands or categories.

For example, you may want to give an added push to products that have a surplus inventory or pull back on products that are delivering low ROAS results.

At the moment, you can do this manually at the campaign level, but that will apply the change across all products in that campaign. You can also do it at the product level, but that would be an awful lot of manual work. Neither are ideal solutions.

So we’ve developed a Camato feature that gives you the power to customize bids down to a granular level. Introducing…Custom Bid Strategies.

Feature goal: Execute custom Bid Management strategies that take performance aspects into account

When would you use a Custom Bid Strategy?

There are typically two scenarios where you would want to increase your product bid:

  1. For temporary promotions which are usually tied to business goals defined outside of PPC departments.
  2. To clear stock levels or to promote new collections/brands.

In both of these, typical performance KPIs like Cost of Sale (COS), are often allowed to perform below average. They may even be combined with additional metrics such as yield, to account for the effective value of incremental sales.

Related: Guide to bid management in Google Shopping

In addition, PPC marketers can also exploit meta-knowledge. For example, if you sell certain products with competitive advantages, like low prices or fast delivery, you’ll want to bid slightly higher than average to get them in front of more people and make more efficient sales. Eventually, based on the tracking data, the Camato Bid Management system will identify these products and bid up on them by default. But, with your expert knowledge and Custom Bid Strategies, you can get a jump start on this process by bidding proactively instead of reactively.

Similar scenarios hold true when bidding lower. Low stock levels and competitive disadvantages (like high prices) are certainly reasons to pull back bid aggressiveness.

Why you shouldn’t rely on regular bid modifiers

You recognize the need to bid up (or down) on certain types of products, but how should you go about it? Usually, it’s done by either adding a few cents to the bid or adding a fixed-percentage bid modifier on top of the existing bid.

In this example, we want to increase ad impressions for products A, B and C. We’ll start by adding a +10% bid modifier on top.

Table 1: Bid modifiers push everything up

Product Cost Revenue ROAS Old Bid New Bid
A 100 1000 10 0.5 0.55
B 100 500 5 0.5 0.55
C 100 100 1 0.5 0.55

Of course, adding 10% across the board, means that product C – although performing poorly – gets a higher bid as well as products A and B.

The problem with this approach is that it does not take the relative performance of each product into account. In a perfect world, we would push A stronger than B, and B stronger than C. Even if the old bids weren’t the same to start with, using this bid modifier method is like using a hammer. There is only one bid direction, and that direction is up. Regardless of performance.

How Custom Bid Strategies solve the problem

Instead of adjusting the bid directly, what if we could tie bid adjustments to another metric? One that typically influences the bid calculation decisively – e.g. revenue. If revenue isn’t your main KPI, you can use another metric, like margin or customer lifetime value.

A simplified version of this theory would look like this, if our target ROAS was 5 and we didn’t do any additional bid modifications.

Table 2: Simplified new bid calculation without additional pushes

Product Cost Revenue ROAS Old Bid New Bid
A 100 1000 10 0.5 Above target: bid up (e.g. 0.55)
B 100 500 5 0.5 On target: leave bid as is
C 100 100 1 0.5 Below target: bid down (e.g. 0.4)

If you still want to more heavily push A, B and C, you can pretend these products performed better than they really did. You simply calculate an adjusted Revenue and, derived from that, an adjusted ROAS.

In this example, we’re pretending that these products performed 20% better than they really did:

Table 3: Adjusted new bid calculation with additional pushes

Product Cost Adjusted Revenue Adjusted ROAS Old Bid New Bid
A 100 1200 12 0.5 Even more above target: bid up a little stronger
(e.g. 0.6)
B 100 600 6 0.5 Slightly above target, bid up a little (e.g. 0.52)
C 100 120 1.2 0.5 Below target, Bid down, but not as strongly as
without adjustment (e.g. 0.44)

The big difference is that now, we’re taking A, B and C’s performance figures into account more forcibly. We bid up A more than B, and we still bid down C, although not as strongly as in Table 2.

Please note that the examples we’ve given are basic. There are other factors to consider, such as when you should stop bidding up due to the S-Curve dynamics in Google Shopping, or the fact that there are many long tail products, for which revenue or ROAS need to be estimated.

Pasted image at 2017_04_11 17_53 (1).png

The result

Adjusting the bid calculation influencers, instead of the bid itself, allows you to take past performance into account. You can do this manually – or you can use Camato’s new Custom Bid Strategy feature and advanced Bid Management techniques to remove the extra setup and monitoring work that bid customization would otherwise create.

What you gain from the extra customization is the ability to be hyper-targeted in your bidding, even though it’s done automatically. This saves you money and increases overall account performance.


Our ultimate goal when we created Camato was to give more control of Shopping campaigns to the people who need it most – Digital Marketers. And, we wanted to do it in a way that would take different performance levels into account and didn’t require a ton of extra work.

After creating Campaign Segmentation, allowing marketers to bid more for high-value search queries, and Bid Management, allowing them to optimize bid amounts for different KPIs, Custom Bid Strategies was the next logical step.