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When your potential customers are looking for your product or service, how do you think they find it? Right, they usually start with Google. In order for them to find you, you need to show up in those search results. Have you wondered how to do that?
Today, we’re talking to CoSchedule’s own Rachel Wiinanen, our inbound marketer. She works a lot with AdWords, creating ads that will lead to click-throughs and lead to conversion. Today she’s going to tell us all about targeting the right keywords, writing engaging messaging, and optimizing your landing pages. She’ll also talk to us about what metrics to measure and share her thoughts on budgeting and goal-setting. You won’t want to miss this episode!
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Nathan: Your audience isn’t looking for your product or your service. How do you think they find it? They search with Google. It’s extremely important to make sure you show up in those search results so you can sell more. That’s why you and I are chatting with Rachel Wiinanen today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast.
Rachel is our inbound marketer here at CoSchedule and one of her ongoing projects involves AdWords. Great ads capture impressions that lead to click-throughs that ultimately result in conversions. You’re going to learn all about targeting the right keywords, writing, engaging, messaging, and optimizing your landing pages to top it off.
Rachel’s going to teach you what metrics to measure, how to measure them, and give you a pretty unique take on budgeting and goal setting. I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m really excited for you to learn all about AdWords with Rachel. Let’s check this out.
Hey Rachel, thanks alot for being on the podcast today.
Rachel: Hey Nathan! Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Well Rachel, obviously you and I know each other but no one else does. Rachel, why don’t you start us off by telling me about CoSchedule and what it is that you do here?
Rachel: Sure. CoSchedule is a content marketing calendar software. We are based out of North Dakota with offices in Bismarck and Fargo. Our software helps marketing professionals get organized and believe that we are the tool that marketing professionals can use to get organized in one place. I am on the demand gen team and I am an inbound marketer based out of Fargo.
My target customers are marketing teams that need help managing their various content or working more efficiently. Our tools help reinforce deadlines, plan ahead, make sure things don’t fall through the cracks which can definitely be a common problem for busy teams out there. My mission is to attract those right kinds of marketing professionals through paid advertising. My goal is to bring in top of the funnel potential leads to our site through paid ads.
Nathan: Nice. One of the things that you’ve been mastering over the past few months is AdWords. I was kind of wondering, if we focus on AdWords, can you tell me about your strategy, how you attract that right audience through AdWords.
Rachel: Sure. The number one thing with AdWords is the keywords that you use to target the right audience. I start with keyword research surrounding our product, the different features CoSchedule offers, and pretty much do just a mass collection of every potential keyword out there. I like to think about the kinds of questions users currently have, what kind of issues do they look to solve by using a tool like CoSchedule, and how can we solve it. I use Google keyword planner, LSI Graph or LSI related terms, Moz or Ahrefs and just like I said, do a mass collection of information just for a starting point.
This isn’t a perfect process to start, it can be messy, there can be a lot of information, but I think it’s important to get all that information so that you can narrow it down from there on. How I narrow that down, I guess, is by focusing on search intent and making sure that the terms are all related to the product. Is the searcher looking for a tool that can help solve their issues? Are they needing to get organized? Are they needing everything in one place? As long as they’re aware that they have a problem that can be solved by CoSchedule, we know that they’re more likely to convert. Ideally, they will find our tool when they’re searching for these kinds of terms.
From there, I look to organize keywords into very specific groups. The more focused each ad group is, the better your ad will perform for its audience, breaking it down by each individual feature and really honing in on what that searcher is looking for.
Finally, I add in some negative keywords. For example, a lot of people are looking for free tools out there and CoSchedule isn’t free, just removing that from the mix. Then, holiday calendars are pretty common especially in regards to social media. A lot of people are looking for different holidays by the day and that’s not what CoSchedule is used for so why get those needless clicks if we don’t need to spend there?
Nathan: That makes sense. We kind of found these keywords, these are the opportunities for us to basically be in front of people who are searching for a solution like CoSchedule. I think the next step is probably writing really great ad copy that gets those clicks. How do you focus on that?
Rachel: Like I said, I like to really granularly break down our ad groups to be very focused. It seems obvious but then using those very focused keywords in the ad copy—if somebody is searching for an exact term, having that term in the ad copy, just to help convert at a higher rate. For the language for the ad copy, I like to do another bit of research. You just go out and figure out the audience’s voice. If you need to look in surveys, online forums, LinkedIn groups, there are tons of places where people are giving feedback in regards to what they need.
People will go online and complain about almost anything so just finding those places where they talk about their issues, their pain points, why they need a tool like CoSchedule and using their voice directly in the ad copy will really help you connect to customers better. Then, because nothing is perfect, just test away. Test, test, test. Always AB test different ad copy. There’s been tons of times where I didn’t think an ad would perform very well and then it all performs other comparative ads by double. That’s great. I wouldn’t have known that if I haven’t tested the copy.
Another thing I think with testing ads is when you enter a new platform, we like to run what I would call MVP tests. Taking something that we’ve already used with the previous tool. Say, I ran a Facebook ad, it was very successful, using that similar language in AdWords just to get started to see how ads can perform. A lot of times, we’re a little bit wary of trying out new ad platforms but I think if you’re using something you already know can be successful, it’s a good place to start on.
Nathan: Nice. Something with ads, obviously we’re on AdWords or being on that first page of the search result, we’re directing traffic somewhere. Tell me about landing pages and how you kind of work with that to make sure our conversions are really high once we get that traffic to our website.
Rachel: Sure. I think it’s really easy to look at an ad and see a high click-through rate and think your work is done but really, that’s not what brings in potential customers or any customers at all. We like to focus on landing pages and see if they are successful as well. And so where are your ads sending people? We don’t just like to send people somewhere and then think, okay, our job is done. If we get them to click and we’re spending money on that click, we definitely want them to convert.
Ensuring that each page you are sending people to is optimized for that searcher’s intent on making sure that they find the answer they’re looking for or the tool they’re looking for and if that doesn’t exist, we need to create a landing page that can do that, that is focused enough for exactly what that ad group is pushing them towards.
Ensuring that there is a call to action that relates back to that customer’s need and making sure that the language really reflects that. We like to push visitors towards a free trial or demo but maybe in this case, if they’re just looking for information, it’s pushing them towards a blog that can give them that information. Some special cases are courses or events. Maybe they’re looking for additional training in social media and we can lead them to a course that offers that.
Nathan: Awesome. Rachel, obviously, you’re thinking about the landing pages so you’re thinking about those conversions, you’re thinking about measurement. What are some of the key things that you measure? Can you explain how you track that stuff?
Rachel: Sure. Right away, I begin focusing almost solely on trial acquisition cost, which it didn’t take long to figure out that that wasn’t detailed enough and there’s so many more factors that go into ad performance and making sure that we’re optimized to do the best we can. I ended up breaking our performance up by a number of different things.
Number one I think would be the click-through rate. It helps me understand when I need to switch up ad copy. Like I said earlier, test, test, test on finding out which kind of ads, which kind of language works best. A low click-through rate could be an indicator of switching that up or it could be that we’re targeting the wrong keywords, the wrong audience. It’s really keeping a pulse on that and knowing when that needs to be adjusted.
Aside from click-through rate, I still keep track of trial acquisition cost but we put a lot less pressure on that number. I learned that a lot of the most qualified leads may cost a lot more. Really emphasizing that plan acquisition cost can even be more important than trial acquisition because we are willing to pay a little bit more for more qualified leads.
Then, the big one that I focus on is the return on ad spend or ROAS. I compare the customer lifetime value earned by each ad to the spend and determine how much we’re making for each dollar. That gives me an opportunity to spend more if an ad is doing well or pause it if it isn’t.
Watching that is really the goal number we can track, the actual success of each ad versus focusing on trial acquisition cost because maybe, a campaign is breaking in a ton of trials that’s just aren’t just converting. So really, we’re spending a lot of money without getting anything in return. This really keeping an eye on and bringing in the right kinds of customers, that will convert to a paid plan.
Nathan: I think all of that is really smart Rachel. That’s one thing, to look at the metrics. How do you actually monitor all of that?
Rachel: A lot of different ways. I guess to start, making sure we have UTM tags on all of our campaigns. We can get as specific as we want. I like to take each individual ad differently so I can see exactly which ad copy might be converting higher to paid, which terms are converting specifically and not just the ads or the ad group itself. I use a tool called Kissmetrics and our demand gen team has found out we can get much granular using Kissmetrics and really stay on the same page. It’s kind of our one version of truth for all of our metrics.
Google Analytics can be very helpful and it can help with figuring out which search queries specifically searchers are using and it is very helpful to plan there but I’m a fan of Kissmetrics and really getting down to the details. All of the information, I go in daily and pull and I keep a spreadsheet that I live in.
It’s always changing. That’s a very important point to know. Things are always going to change, you’re always going to want to get more specific, more focused, more precise. That’s the way you save money. Really narrowing your focus and being critical of your process.
My spreadsheet has changed probably three times this spring, which is great. It allows for opportunity to optimize our campaigns even further. I’d like to think I’m right all the time but I’m not so having those numbers there to back up different campaigns and really see what’s working in number form is great.
Nathan: Nice. Rachel, I think for anybody who might be thinking about spending money, it’s an interesting thing for some marketers to be like, “Oh, how much should I spend before I know how to change things up?” I know you have something that you called a plan for follow weather, tell me about that.
Rachel: Yup. We have a goal of a return on ad spend between $4 and $6. If our campaign drops below the $4 mark, we consider that follow weather. How I plan for that is taking some preventive action to ensure performance doesn’t keep moving in that downward slope. It’s not really a cut and drag process, there’s multiple steps behind it. I average out past performance as well as predicted future for each of those factors. I talked about click-through rate, trial acquisition cost, plan acquisition cost.
By tracking each of those metrics from past and future predictions, I can guess when a campaign just isn’t going to perform down to if impressions aren’t coming in, then maybe we’re just targeting the wrong audience and maybe I need to rethink that campaign. It allows me to turn off things that aren’t converting early on and spend less so that I can spend more on our high-performing campaigns and really rake in the money where the breadwinners are I guess.
Nathan: That’s really smart. It kind of ties in the budget in general. I know you do something pretty interesting here that I think other people can definitely learn from. How do you determine the budget that we’ll be spending on ads or AdWords at CoSchedule?
Rachel: I think you’re right. A lot of budget depends on the company you work at and so people don’t necessarily approach it in the right way all the time depending how spend is approved. I think a lot of companies have the wrong mindset and have the traditional, “If I give you x dollars and it converts at x% then we’ll see ____ in revenue.” It just is very backwards where at CoSchedule, I have no real ad spend budget instead, I have goals that I’m expected to meet and those goals involve the trial acquisition cost, trial to paid, return on ad spend, and then over-all revenue that we want in the year.
Instead of x dollars converts at x%, I think if I’m going to meet these goals how do I need to spend and what do my conversion rates need to be in order to meet those goals. It’s a ‘goals first’ attitude instead of money first and I think that’s really important because goals should really drive your entire strategy.
Nathan: I think that’s really smart. Rachel, to kind of wrap this up, for someone who’s just looking to get into AdWords, someone new to this, what should they do first? What’s your best advice for a newbie to this?
Rachel: Definitely start with research, not just keyword research, just go to the internet. There’s so much information out there. Before you add to the noise out there, I think you need to understand what is already existing on customer language, other competitor ads, what are people asking about in forums, what are common problems, what can you solve out there, what are some trends, what are the voices, pretty much everything. Just research and research, and until you’re comfortable in that environment. Don’t run a campaign. Just start with the basics then you’ll feel comfortable targeting the right people. It’ll just make the rest of the process go a lot easier.
My best advice for someone who’s new to AdWords would be don’t be afraid to test new things. Like I said, some of the most surprising campaigns can perform incredibly well. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get any clicks and you don’t spend anything, so why not test? Test away.
On CoSchedule as a saying, ‘fail fast ‘ and I think that can be true to testing too. Why not fail fast, see what works and move from there? Don’t get comfortable because there’s always room for improvement, so test away.
Nathan: Nice. Rachel, I think that’s awesome advice. Thanks for talking about ROAS. I think that that’s something interesting for a lot of people and especially the ‘goals first’ mindset for setting up your budget. I really like that. Rachel, thanks for being on the podcast today.
Rachel: Definitely, thanks for having me.
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