July 2016 -
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Archive for July, 2016

AdWords Essentials – Split Testing

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords expert, split testing

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

split-testSplit testing is an essential skill for an AdWords Expert professionally managing an account in today’s world. In this article we are going to explore some of the details that need to be considered to run a professional split test. We could write an entire book on this topic and still not cover it all, so for this article we are going to limit our scope to split tests conducted in the search network of Google AdWords using text ads.

First thing to consider is the goal of the split test; they can be designed to:

  • Learn something new
  • Experiment with a break through idea
  • Test the Margin of Error

Why do we bother with split tests?

Splits help us test what we think is true against what in reality is how our specific market is reacting. With over 20 years in this field I cannot tell you the number of times that market response has surprised a wide range of experts. One thing that we know for sure is that split test results are clues, not facts and it takes lots of tests to increase the probability that the item being tested and the results being seen are the same thing.

A/B Tests – Learning Something

Technically, all split tests that run 2 ads are an A/B test. For the purpose of this article, an A/B test is one that is testing a single variable. This results in ads that evolve in small steps because you can only change one thing at a time. To reiterate, CHANGE ONLY ONE THING per test. Using an A/B strategy requires a long term view and the will to stay the course. If you are part of the instant gratification society it is unlikely you will be successful with a true A/B approach.

Multi-variant – swinging for the fences!

When most people talk about split tests this is the type of test they mean. They write completely new ad copy and put it in competition with the current winner. The challenge is that when the new ad wins there are so many differences that you have to guess at what caused the result. This is not to mean that this does not have value because it does. If what you need is a breakthrough ad then this is the way to run that test, but you have to accept the fact that this the equivalent of swinging for the fences. If it works, it is a home run but it is also risky and likely to result in a strikeout. When you are trying to find the message that resonates with your audience, this is a valid strategy. As the account matures it might make less sense.

Cross Traffic Tests

Sometimes an account simply lacks the volume to do a test in a reasonable period of time but has enough traffic at an account level. In these cases you can sometimes engineer tests that tie all or most of the traffic together. The key to this, is creating ad copy that is generic enough to run the same headline or body in all the groups. The compromise here is that the more generic the copy the weaker the ad tends to be, so getting the test at all costs can sometimes be too much. While the headline is giving up too much the body text can be tested.

Margin of Error

A margin of error test is exactly what it sounds like. Everything in split testing is a clue not a fact and you have to understand the range of accuracy you are dealing with. In a margin of error test, you run two identical ads and run them against each other. This shows you how much the data might be off, based on no variables that are under your control. When this is done several times, a range of error will be visible that you can use to decide how probable the result will repeat. Over the years we have noticed that in most accounts this is about plus or minus 10% of the rate being evaluated. So an account with a normal 2% CTR could come in from 1.8% to 2.2% simply from the margin of error. If the result of a test is within this range then it is too close to call.

Common Mistake 1 – Confusing clues with facts

Clues are data that indicate support for a theory but are not proof. A fact proves that a theory is universally true. In marketing clues are common and facts are exceptionally rare. How rare you ask? Good question: in the last two decades in digital marketing, I have yet to find a fact. As you build the case for your decision the more clues, the more likely what you believe is true.

Common Mistake 2 – Not considering outside events

AdWords does not operate in a vacuum. The best example I can give to you is a snow removal business that wanted more sales leads. No matter how much they advertised and promoted the business, they just could not move the needle. Then a huge snow storm came and the phones lit up like a Christmas tree. The truth is that search marketing serves the demand but almost never creates demand. This is simple to understand when you stop and think about the first step in search, which starts with a need, then a search query, and finally the search engine results.

Common Mistake 3 – Thinking that the body text counts

In most cases the body text (two lines under the headline) simply do not change the results. We think the reason is that people do a search, see the headline they need, stop reading, and click on the ad. We have tested this many times and changes in the headline create meaningful change in the traffic but the body text does not. We often see people struggling for hours to create the best copy possible often for little or no return for their efforts. Invest your time and testing on the headline and write good informational copy for the percentage of the audience that do read those lines.




Mobile is changing the AdWords World

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords expert, Mobile Marketing

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Burn-BobI propose that it is impossible to scale the web experience from desktop to mobile or the other way around with today’s tools. I am sure that hordes of web designers are gathering to burn me in effigy for uttering such heresy. After all, everyone knows that responsive design and CSS fixed all these problems. This is sadly, “Not True.”

I am not arguing that responsive design does not work because technically, it does. However, technically scaling the content does not cure the communication challenge. The audience expectations and needs are different on a mobile device compared to a desktop. I propose that mobile users are looking for short copy that delivers the content they want quickly. They want the phone number and address at the top with the phone number active to a click to call feature. Mobile devices are not designed as a reading device for long reflective research. Desktop users are often after all the details and while long and short copy is still a debate in the industry, there is little doubt that long copy belongs in desktop and short on mobile.

Getting your design to pass a mobile friendly test is only the first step in the process of adapting your content for the mobile world. The web experience that happens after a click on your ad, is how clicks convert into business value. So here is the second big shocker: “Size Matters!” There is a big difference between mobile and desktop audiences, and trying to use one set of content for both is going to result in a compromise somewhere. You have to rethink your audience and design the communications for them.

Google is in the throes of converting AdWords Design from Desktop First to Mobile First. We propose that both of these are important and each has its own issues. It’s not as simple as what goes first. Going mobile fixes some things and breaks others. Different audiences respond differently. I know a lot of people and I know their needs, wants, and expectations are different when they are working at their desktop compared to their phone. In many cases, the desktop user is more reflective and more likely to be in research mode looking for deep levels of information. The mobile user is often looking at much less content that is very direct and to the point so their goals are often to find a phone number, address, or other very short information. The massive amounts of data that the desktop values are a barrier to the information mobile users seek. For many audiences, especially mobile audiences, a small direct to the point website in mobile is what they want. The complexity of this goes beyond desktop and mobile because there is at least one more dimension to consider. Are they operating as a consumer or a business?

Did you know that the marketing industry has been debating this very issue for generations? It’s true, because all we did was change the words that describe the problem. In the olden days, before the internet was part of our everyday lives, marketing debated the short versus long copy and the debate continues today. What has changed, is our ability to interact and modify our behavior based on user input.

Maybe this could be as simple as asking the visitor what they want. Do you want a short and to the point answer or do you want all the details? The other alternative would be to give them the short version with a connection to the long copy on a section, by section basis. The bottom line here is that our world is changing and our methods of communication have to keep up.
I like to close all my articles with some actionable items that our readers can use today to make their account better. This topic is resistant to a short-fix actionable item so what I hope is that you will rethink your audiences and find a way to deliver the right type of copy to the right audience.