I sat down with Grazia Ladisa, Sherpa’s digital marketing executive and resident Google Guru to chat about two days she spent in London last week at Google’s Audience Expert Days – a training day which delved into what Google are doing to help us use their platform to reach and understand our audiences better.
Grazia, what was the format of the day?
There were around 60 delegates from various agencies, three google tutors, notebooks, croissants and a really good buzz in the room. The day was hugely interactive, which kept us all engaged. We started off by playing a game of ‘set-up, optimise, bid’, which is Google’s version of Rock, paper, scissors. It was a great way to break the ice with the rest of the attendees and there was chocolate on offer so people were keen to win. I must have had luck on my side though as managed to remain undefeated and took the victory! I have come away with an entire notebook full of notes and ideas, so there is plenty to bring back to the team at Sherpa.
(LD: Grazia’s notes are a thing of beauty…colour coded, plentiful and very organised!)
What was the main point of the Google audience training course?
The digital landscape is constantly changing and with it so are the opportunities that are available to us as an agency. Google are constantly evolving what they offer and training days like this enables us to increase our capabilities and offer our clients solutions using the latest and most current tech services. We want to be able to use Google AdWords to its full capacity for our clients…and it is becoming more and more important as it moves away from being ‘just an awareness tool’ and becomes highly targeted and embraces the conversion model which is so important for many businesses. In fact the whole second day was focused on about their conversion model and ROI.
So why are Google having to change?
Advertising is moving towards having a deep knowledge of your audience. One of the stats they referred to really resonated with me – 71% of CMOs see ‘Big Data’ as the external force which will most impact their organisation over the next 3-5 years. This means that Google has to have to tools to facilitate this movement. The main focus on the first day of the training course was on the audience; the importance of ensuring they are centric to all of your digital activities. Knowing your audience is key (and surprisingly often overlooked) and understanding their lifetime value and customer journey will transform your digital success. B2B audiences tend to use different channels and different devices to B2C audiences and their journey is often longer and may involve more than one decision maker, so the tactics have to take this in to account.
How have Google provided a response to this?
At the moment Google AdWords have certain features to enable you to set an audience, such as topics, placement, keywords but also custom list of email addresses to upload. However, this has its limitations as it currently only matches those with gmail addresses. Going forward they will be able to provide a matched audience based on expanded criteria, including phone number as well as multiple email addresses to expand the results of customer audience matching. However, this doesn’t get us off the hook as ‘big data’ needs segmenting and although they can offer a wide range of ways to create an audience, you need to know your audience before hand and have a clear idea of your requirements. Google can then help you drive, expand and re-engage your target audience to increase conversions.
Here at Sherpa, the Inbound methodology is integral to what we do, so knowing our audience is something we advocate. How is Google suggesting we expand on this?
One of the main takeaways for us as a B2B agency was not only knowing your audience at the targeting state, but at the optimisation stage. Quite often, audiences on Google are optimised based on the final click of their journey, however, if we knew more about their entire journey, the optimisation process could be more holistic. With the integration of Google AdWords and Google Analytics we are able to set audiences, monitor how they act, respond and behave, and then use that behavior monitoring to expand the audience. In fact, for our clients, Google Analytics can be extremely powerful and provide us with insight not only on bespoke landing pages but on all of their web pages to better understand their customer’s behaviour and motivations and be able to re-engage with them using AdWords features like ‘similar audience’. Also, This would help serve content that is even more bespoke to their current requirements. These two Google Products have extensive capabilities, but their full functionality often isn’t exploited, with companies choosing plug-ins which often don’t talk to each other. I have started using the new AdWords interface and am getting on really well. I think this will help to manage all the campaigns and groups more organically.
Which new function are you impressed with?
Google is always creating new interfaces to keep us all on their toes. The Google Solutions Framework is excellent…we currently use smart display and remarketing and Google are offering more and more ways to expand audiences based on what your target is. An important tool for future expansion will be their ‘custom intent’ function. This gives us the ability to expand the audience, choosing significant urls and keywords about specific websites, similar products and also competitors and Google will then identify people who are currently searching for terms related to what our clients are promoting. We partner with intent data providers and the results are nowhere near as specific as that, but they are certainly useful in helping us serve suitable content to the right audiences.
What did you learn, that we should all be doing?
There was so much information to take in over the two days, that it is hard to just pick one point….but the standout Google capability that sits so well with our own messaging it warrants a mention: Machine Learning. Google is improving its system constantly with smart learning and its algorithm is continuously adapting, doing the hard work for us by machine learning. This means we only have to do what actually matters to improve campaign results. For example, Google AdWords will support us to optimise keyword bidding….ordinarily we would set up a campaign, do bidding and optimise manually. However, Google machine learning should be considered from the beginning of every campaign in order to better understand how the audience acts, what the response is, which bidding strategy is better. AdWords will be better placed to advise about the different option available to optimise the campaign. This gives us more time to optimise, test and expand audience. It will certainly help to identify new opportunities for our clients. The reason machine learning sits so well with our business model is that it is a ‘long-term process’. It will take at least 2-3 weeks to provide any sort of initial insight, which sits perfectly with Sherpa’s preference of 12 week minimum end-to-end campaigns. If you have better insight, you will have a better quality campaign and will get better results
If you would like to know more about anything mentioned above, please get in touch – we’re a nice bunch!
#GoHigher #Sherpa #Google
Image courtesy of Felipe Diehl