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My three year old daughter (Charlotte) is very good at connecting with people. She‘s been a master at rapport and empathy since she was a baby.
One thing she has learned to do is soften the blow every time she gives a criticism. (No idea where she learned that – we’re a family full of fairly blunt people!).
I loved this line she came up with – imagine it said in a soft caring tone, a small toddler hand on your arm – “You’re wrong, but let’s not worry about that…”. It’s like she’s trying to criticize and comfort at the same time.
So, today I decided to write about something in Google Marketing that is plain wrong, but that other people just don’t seem to worry about.
If I was going to put on a little Charlotte voice and tell people so very nicely that they’re wrong, who would I be telling that to?
I would most definitely tell that to the digital agencies, freelancers and educators who believe that Google Ads audiences are optional, and don’t make a lot of difference. The people who think that the only thing that really matters in Google Ads is keywords.
This is a myth that I see perpetuated over and over, and is never really questioned. In fact, the topic of audiences rarely even comes up other than an afterthought. People understand keywords and don’t always know that audiences exist, or what they’re for.
We all know that keywords match what our users type in and so we presume these to be the most important at gauging the quality of a prospect. Yes, keywords are very important, but this has led to a disregard of anything other than keywords, and this is to your detriment.
An issue that I see often when I take on a new account is that care has been put into selecting keywords but not into selecting audiences. Sometimes when an agency has been working on an account I see they have not used any audiences at all, which is flat out ridiculous because the client had been putting trust and faith in that agency doing the right thing by them.
I’m not sure if its ignorance or laziness, but audiences should never be ignored in Google marketing. Their use are highly likely to be the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable campaign.
Audiences define the “who” behind the search, whereas keywords define the “what”.
For example the keyword “ballet flats” let us know that someone is most likely searching for a pair of flat shoes, either to buy them, or to see a picture of them, or to learn more about them.
Audiences are quite different. An audience may include people who are sports enthusiasts, love going to the salon, attend music concerts, buy used car parts, or have been researching CRM software. All of these interests and shopping habits depict different snippets of the “who” behind the search. It goes much deeper than just demographic (age, gender, income) data.
Of course, people are not single dimensional, any one person will fit into multiple different audiences depending on all their interests and shopping habits.
Where it gets super interesting is that if you plot these interests against each other and against revenue in your business, you discover that some audiences are worth much more to your business then others. The graph of audiences pretty much never looks random; there are always clear audiences who stand out as being your best customers.
For example, some categories of audience make up your most commonly transacting uses. 25% of all your transacting users may be part of the same audience. Travel and hotel accommodation for example, come up as the highest audiences for pretty much every hotel I’ve ever worked with because people typically research their holidays in advance. Other categories of audience are not your most common but when users from this group transact they spend a lot more than everyone else. Sometimes much, much more than everyone else. These are your niches of rabid buyers.
If you target both of those audiences of people, and cut out pretty much everyone else using your keyword, you can cut out a huge amount of wasted ad spend, without impacting your revenue. This makes your Return On Ad Spend go up! When your Return on Ad Spend is higher, you can then afford to expand your ads to more keywords and audiences while still being profitable.
In my experience, if you have a small to medium sized budget, targeting your top 20% of audiences (by total revenue and by revenue per user) and cutting out everyone else, leads to a significantly higher Return On Ad Spend compared to if you didn’t have any audiences set. The bigger your budget, the more audiences you’ll need to include, but you can still rank them and select the best. Even if you have a very large budget, you can still use this technique by setting your best audiences to Observation and adding a positive bid modifier to the best ones.
This is a technique I use with success with all of my clients. I generate a report that tells me which audiences are performing the best out of all the users visiting your website, and then target those users in Google Ads.
I don’t know why other agencies don’t do this. Maybe they are worried that targeting the best audiences will cut out too many people? This belief is fallacy, because as a scale your budget you can always increase the number of audiences you allow in, but when you have a smaller budget you might not even get to show your ad to the best quality people if your ad budget runs out by targeting everyone else.
Of course keywords are important, but if you use keywords AND audiences you get a better result. Period.
I must admit though, I do get the giggles if I imagine myself like Charlotte, taking people by the hand and saying “You’re wrong, but lets not worry about that…”