A recent update to Google AdWords is changing the way performance marketers understand their landing pages’ Quality Scores. Image via Shutterstock.
While Quality Score is a critical factor in your ad performance, it’s always been a bit of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Marketers have never been able to natively view changes to Quality Score components in AdWords directly. That is — even though expected click through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience scores are the elements contributing to your Quality Score, you haven’t been able to see these individual scores at scale (or for given timeframes) within your AdWords account, or export them into Excel.
Which is why, up until now, some especially savvy marketers have had to improvise workarounds, using third-party scripts to take daily snapshots of Quality Score to have some semblance of historical record — and a better-informed idea as to changes in performance.
Fortunately, an AdWords reporting improvement has brought new visibility into Quality Score components that could help you diagnose some real wins with your ads and corresponding landing pages.
What’s different now?
As you may have already noticed, there are now seven new columns added to your menu of Quality Score metrics including three optional status columns:
This is not new data per se (it’s been around in a different, less accessible form), but as of this month you can now see everything in one spot and understand when certain changes to Quality Score have occurred.
So how can you take advantage?
There are two main ways you can use this AdWords improvement to your advantage as a performance marketer:
1. Now you can see whether your landing page changes are positively influencing Quality Score
Now, after you make changes to a landing page — you can use AdWords’ newest reporting improvement to see if you have affected the landing page experience portion of your Quality Score over time.
This gives you a chance to prove certain things are true about the performance of your landing pages, whereas before you may have had to use gut instinct about whether a given change to a landing page was affecting overall Quality Score (or whether it was a change to the ad, for example).
As Blaize Bolton, Team Strategist at Performance Marketing Agency Thrive Digital told me:
As agency marketers, we don’t like to assume things based on the nature of our jobs. We can now pinpoint changes to Quality Score to a certain day, which is actual proof of improvement. To show this to a client is a big deal.
Overall, if your CPC drops, now you can better understand whether it may be because of changes made to a landing page.
2. You can identify which keywords can benefit most from an updated landing page
Prior to this AdWords update, ad relevancy, expected click through rate and landing page relevancy data existed, but you had to mouse over each keyword to get this data to pop up on a keyword-by-keyword basis. Because you couldn’t analyze the data at scale, you couldn’t prioritize your biggest opportunities for improvement.
However, now that you can export this data historically (for dates later than January 22, 2016), you can do a deep dive into your campaigns and identify where a better, more relevant landing page could really help.
You can now pull every keyword in your AdWords account — broken out by campaign — and identify any underperforming landing pages.
Now, an Excel deep dive into your AdWords campaigns can help you reveal landing page weaknesses.
Specifically, here’s what Thrive Digital’s Managing Director Ross McGowan recommends:
You can break down which of your landing pages are above average, or those that require tweaking. For example, you might index your campaigns by the status AdWords provides, assigning anything “Above Average” as 3, “Average” as 2 and “Below Average” as 1. You can then find a weighted average for each campaign or ad group and make a call on what to focus on from there.
What should you do when you notice a low landing page experience score?
As Google states, landing page experience score is an indication of how useful the search engine believes your landing page is to those who click on your ad. They recommend to, “make sure your landing page is clear and useful… and that it is related to your keyword and what customers are searching for.”
In short, it’s very important that your landing pages are highly relevant to your ad. Sending traffic to generic pages on your website may not cut it. Moreover, once you are noticing low landing page engagement scores, it’s time to try optimizing these pages with some quick wins.
In the words of Thrive’s Ross McGowan:
Figure out what a user wants, and do everything you can to tailor the on-page experience to them. Whether that be [using] Dynamic Text Replacement, A/B testing elements to get the best user experience, or spending less time on technical issues and more on writing great content.
Finally, for more on AdWords’ latest improvements, AdAlysis founder Brad Geddes has written a great article on Search Engine Land. His company had enough data on hand to attempt a reverse-engineer of the formula for Quality Score to get a sense of how changes to one of the QS components would impact overall score. His recommendation is much the same as Ross’, in that, if a landing page’s score is particularly low, your best bet is to focus on increasing user’s interaction with the page.
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I’ve attended enough tech and marketing events to make a few generalizations:
Women are hugely underrepresented; whether it’s a panel or a conference speaker lineup, chances are it’s overrun with white men.
Sexism is prevalent, and it spans from subtle (think underrepresentation, pinkwashed girls’ lounges) to overt (think harassment, non-consensual advances).
There are exceptions (there always are), but this is the general rule, and it’s a huge stain on the industry you and I are both a part of.
Now I want to make it clear, I’m not here to chastise anyone. As a used-to-be conference organizer, I’m guilty of it too.
When I ran Unbounce’s first-ever Call to Action Conference (CTAConf) four years ago, I invited four women to speak, two of which spoke on a panel. The other seven were — you guessed it — white males.
My reason was an all-too familiar one: “There aren’t enough qualified female speakers.”
This is garbage. It’s unacceptable. And it’s not a reason at all — it’s an excuse. What it really came down to was, I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I wasn’t asking my network for recommendations. I wasn’t doing enough research. I wasn’t making the extra effort required to widen the pool of speakers. I wasn’t committed to gender diversity.
Fast forward to today and my perspective has completely changed. Not only because it’s important to me on a personal level, but also because it makes business sense.
See, when you pull from the same pool of speakers as other folks in your industry, everything starts to look like white bread — bland and borderline junkfood. Your conference looks like that other conference that happened a few months ago. And the content? Yep, it’s the same, too.
When you use the same speakers, your lineup looks like white bread—bland and borderline junkfood. Click To Tweet
By digging a little deeper and expanding your search a little wider, you can discover fresh up-and-coming talent with new perspectives, new things to teach. And you show female attendees that their voice and their professional development matter.
And did I mention you sell tickets and attract more female attendees?
I see a lot of progress being made around improving gender diversity in marketing and tech. People are asking questions, they’re holding companies accountable, they’re having those tough conversations, which is a great start.
But what are people actually doing about it?
This post will dig into specific steps you can take to improve gender diversity at your next event. They’re the result of an honest-to-goodness desire to do the right thing and our own cringe-worthy fumbles (more on that later).
It’s my hope that these tips and tactics will help to alleviate any hesitation you or your organization might have about taking the leap.
Commit to gender parity
At Unbounce, we’ve been having conversations around gender diversity for months, so when Unbounce CEO Rick Perrault challenged us to commit to gender parity at CTAConf 2017, the response was a resounding YES, YES, YES.
It’s as simple as this. And yet it’s a bit more nuanced as well.
The truth is, achieving gender parity did take a bit more time and a bit more effort. But the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers and an opportunity to tap into an audience that otherwise might’ve passed on your event.
Forget ROI — talk about RO why not?!
Commit to gender parity at your #marketing event—the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers. Click To Tweet
So how did we do it? How did we stack our lineup with talented male and female speakers? (And more importantly, how can you?)
Leverage your social network and ask for recommendations via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (like Unbounce Co-Founder Oli Gardner did for the Unbounce Road Trip in 2015).
Trade past speaker lists and ratings with your network of event organizers. I sent personal emails to every event organizer I knew asking them for their past speaker lineups and ratings, and in exchange I shared our list and ratings. This tactic is one is my faves, and it’s how we scored a ton of speaker leads for CTAConf.
But I wasn’t a quote unquote speaker. I guess you could have called me a speaker in residence. I spoke at a few small-time events here and there, but I am not famous like Seth Godin. I don’t travel the world speaking at industry events or conferences.
I was caught in a classic Catch-22: I couldn’t become a speaker without experience, but I couldn’t get experience because I wasn’t a speaker.
But rather than focusing on what I didn’t have, our speaker selection committee focused on what I did have: enthusiasm and a whole lotta event marketing experience to boot.
Once the committee deliberated, I spent two hours whiteboarding my talk with Oli. He and Unbounce Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard also reviewed my slide deck multiple times, providing constructive feedback.
Their expertise helped fill the gaps in my resume, so that when I stood up on that stage I felt prepared and supported.
And guess what? It went really well.
So this year we reserved one CTAConf speaker slot for employees, and we sent a callout asking for applicants. The response blew my mind: Four applicants, all women. And though the choice was a tough one, I’m pleased to say Alexa Hubley — Customer Communications Specialist and first-time conference speaker — will be on stage at CTAConf 2017 with her talk “Master Customer Marketing By Watching Romantic Comedies.”
So what can you do to improve gender diversity at your upcoming event? You can start in your very own backyard. Encourage high-performing women at your company to speak at events, and offer them mentorship and support to get them up on stage.
And if you’re a man who’s been asked to speak at an event, consider if there’s a woman you know who is equally qualified to speak on the subject. If there is, offer up your slot. In fact, Oli already did this, when he recommended me to speak at CIMC 2017.
For every man asked to speak at an event, there’s a qualified woman who hasn’t been. Find her. Click To Tweet
Create a code of conduct
A clear code of conduct helps create a safe environment for your staff and your event attendees by setting expectations for what is and what is not acceptable behavior.
From a diversity perspective, a code of conduct is an especially helpful tool for making women feel at ease, because there are strict policies in place to deter discrimination and harassment.
Creating a code of conduct out of thin air might seem intimidating, so I suggest pulling inspiration from existing codes and adding your own personal flavor.
Wistia has written an exceptional post about how and why they created their code of conduct for WistiaFest, including how they made it visible. Humble folks that they are, they highlighted where they could have improved (so you can learn from their mistakes!).
You’ll notice three core principles outlined in all these codes:
Including these three core principles and your company’s core values is a great place to start.
And remember, there are no rules when it comes to creating a code of conduct, except one… you have to be prepared to enforce it.
Enforce your code of conduct
A code of conduct is like insurance; you hope you never have to use it, but in those unfortunate circumstances, you’ll be glad you have something to back you up.
At this year’s conference, we’re making our code of conduct front and center with printed posters hung around the venue.
You’ll also find the code on the CTAConf website as well as in our conference app. And we’ve made it simple to report a violation by including a direct phone number to our event marketing coordinator in our code of conduct.
While I can’t go into the specifics of every reported incident, I can tell you we’ve enforced our code multiple times, with attendees and speakers.
Remember when I mentioned cringe-worthy fumbles? Well read on, readers.
See, live events are a tricky beast. You have this very passionate person up on stage who’s pumped up and maybe a little nervous. You have no idea what’s going to come out of their mouth. You hope it won’t be anything offensive, but you really have no idea.
You do, however, have control over their content, specifically their slide deck. This is something we learned the hard way:
Props to Annette for calling us out. It wasn’t our slide, but as event hosts, the content that gets projected for all our guests to see is our responsibility. Period.
So what did we start doing to make sure this never happened again? We leaned on our code of conduct:
We send all our presenters the code of conduct beforehand via email
We include the code of conduct in our Speaker Field Guide, which contains everything a speaker needs to know, such as contact information, travel and accommodation info and slide deck specs
(This one’s a biggie.) We review and sign off on everyone’s slide decks, slide by slide, to ensure there’s no offensive or discriminating content
We don’t invite back speakers who’ve broken our code of conduct
And next year, we’ll take a page out of Moz’s book by including our code of conduct right in our speaker and sponsor contract.
So does all of this “extra stuff” add to our workload? You bet it does. But it’s something we account for now. And the payoff is invaluable.
We’ve still got growing to do
You may have noticed this post is focused on how to create a gender diverse event and not a diverse event. The truth is, we know we can #dobetter at elevating folks who aren’t typically asked to speak at events — not just white women, but people of color, non-binary folks and members of the LGBTQ community.
We know we have more growing to do and we’re committed to it, just as we were committed to achieving gender parity at this year’s conference.
I think we’ve come a long way as a company, and I think I’ve come a long way as a champion for women. The excuse I gave as a conference host nearly four years ago — that there weren’t enough qualified women speakers — is no longer an excuse.
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In contrast, our software is usually built on Boolean values. We set isHot to true and if isHot && isThirsty && isBored, then we call getWater(). If we use code like this to control our game characters, then they will appear jerky and less natural. In this article, we’ll learn how to add intelligent behavior to the non-player characters of a game using an alternative to conventional Boolean logic.
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To have more than a billion prospects in one place, literally at your fingertips, is a marketer’s dream (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!). But turning those prospects into customers… well that’s another story.
As marketers, we know that a stellar Facebook campaign is made up of a lot more than clever copy, snazzy design and a hefty PPC budget. In a constantly changing environment of new features, products and ad units, it can be tricky to stay ahead of the pack — let alone stand out.
Facebook’s granular targeting makes it more possible than ever to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time. But only marketers who are committed to making connections with real people and then maintaining those relationships will come out on top.
If there’s one person that knows this best, it’s Mari Smith.
Named Forbes’ #4 “Top Social Media Power Influencer,” Mari is one of the world’s leading social media thought leaders and educators in the world of marketing. Her knowledge of Facebook runs so deep that she was personally hired by the folks at Facebook to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events.
Despite her packed schedule, Mari recently took the time to sit down with Unbounce Marketing Educator Christie Pike to reveal some of her best kept Facebook advertising secrets. In this interview you’ll get Mari’s actionable tips and insights into:
Some of the biggest missed opportunities for marketers advertising on Facebook.
Companies that are crushing it in the social advertising space and what you can learn from them.
The next big thing on the horizon that Facebook marketers should be preparing for and investing in.
Christie Pike: You’ve been active on Facebook long enough to see its evolution from social media network to a performance tool not unlike AdWords. How has this changed the way that marketers run Facebook campaigns?
Mari Smith: The main thing to consider is the enormous amount of data that Facebook gathers, not only on the platform itself but in partnership with data companies. So every time you use your credit card, every time you make a purchase, surveys that you complete, any information that’s out there is moved into a kind of personal dossier that then gets matched with your Facebook ID. Because of all of this, people get scared and freaked out, Big Brother and all that, but it’s all anonymized and encrypted, so from a user standpoint I always say, “caveat emptor”, just recognize that in today’s day and age of privacy, everything is out there.
From a marketer’s or advertiser’s standpoint, it’s an unprecedented time that we’re in. It’s a paradigm shift in terms of being able to reach the exact person that you want with Facebook’s granular targeting. Down to zip code, down to propensity to possibly make a certain purchase, from going on a cruise in the next six months, buying a BMW in the next three months, income, the number of kids you have, what you do for a career — all of this is just extraordinary.
So, we really do have to think of Facebook as a platform in which to get our message, our products and our services in front of our target market, but done so in a very relationship-oriented way. I think the businesses that are really standing out are the ones that can make us laugh or cry or go “awwww” and tear at the heartstrings — you know, create something that has viral shareability as opposed to how some business send a message that says “Hey, sign up for our stuff,” “Buy our stuff.” It’s a cold market, you know.
CP: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen on the ad platform itself?
MS: I would say that a big change is in terms of ad units, which initially were just a link and some basic visuals, but over the years they have a much, much, much more visual emphasis. I especially love the carousel ads you can swipe. I think Amazon is one of the best at doing retargeted multi-product ads. I remember seeing one of its ads that had about 32 cards on the carousel that you could swipe and I asked myself, “How did they know I like all this stuff!?”
And then what they call slideshow, which is really just images made into a video, but definitely the prevalence of video is key. One of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite words is “immersive,” and so the introduction of more immersive type of content like canvas ads has huge importance in the current ad space.
I worked directly with a video creation company, and they shared a great case study from Brussels Airlines that pull up a canvas ad advertising flights to Mumbai in India. They got something like 27 times more time on site after doing this beautiful canvas ad, whereas their previous Facebook campaigns led to an average of three seconds on site. The reason behind this was because back in the day, ads were just a link with a tiny wee thumbnail, and then they got bigger and turned into GIFs, slideshows, animations, interactive content and full-screen content.
So, between (1) the ad products (2) the placement and (3) the targeting, I would say those are the three key areas where there are the biggest changes. Placement being whether it’s Instagram, mobile news only or if it’s right rail (which still has its place), but users are in mobile more than anything else.
CP: Who is doing Facebook advertising particularly well? What do you like about their ad campaigns? Can you provide some examples?
MS: My favorite video ad that I include in almost every single one of my presentations is by a fun company called Chatbooks. It’s a simple app (a subscription service) that takes your Instagram and Facebook photos and prints them in a book format, it’s really clever.
They worked with a really good PR/creative agency and hired a professional actress/comedian. From there, they created this three minute and forty-second ad. The ad was first put out on their Facebook page, which had just over 100,000 fans (now over 200, 000). And when I last checked, that video ad had69 million views and almost 500,000 shares.
This is what I love to teach — when you can craft your content to be visually appealing (ideally video). When people are engaged with it they’ll share it with others.
When you craft your content to be visually appealing, people are engaged + will share with others. Click To Tweet
I’ve never found a better example than Chatbooks. In fact, I originally saw it in my News Feed as a shared organic post by a friend of mine, and after I watched the full three minutes and forty seconds, I was ready to sign up and buy the subscription!
It’s so good because it’s educational and it’s the kind of video ad that you can stop and watch or at least save and watch later. It’s really cool what he’s doing because he’s not saying, “Hey everybody, sign up for Moz, see what we can do for you!” Instead, he’s like, “Hey here’s some education on SEO,” and it’s the kind of stuff that people will stop and save and consume.
One last shout out to my good friend Ezra Firestone and his company called Smart Marketer. He does really amazing stuff with video ads and lead gen.
CP: Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner estimates that 98% of AdWords campaign traffic is not being sent to a dedicated landing page. If you had to guess, what percentage of Facebook marketers do you think are sending their traffic to mobile optimized landing pages? Do you see this as a missed opportunity?
MS: I would have said it’s probably a lot lower. My guess is that 65% is going to a dedicated landing page on Facebook — I get the sense that Facebook advertisers, for the most part, are a little more savvy. They realize you can’t spend all this money and have a captive audience and then just send them away to figure it out for themselves.
But to Oli’s point, I do see a missed an opportunity — especially when marketers are not really thoroughly checking and having a small test group. It’s important to invest a small amount — about $60 – $100 dollars — towards some A/B testing to see which ad gets better conversions. Doing the pixel and tracking the standard events, all of these components are key.
The second part is mobile optimized websites/landing pages. If someone’s clicking through and it’s too wide for the phone, or the pop-up appears and you can’t find the ‘X’ on it — it takes less than a second and they’re outta there.
CP: Are you seeing good examples of Facebook campaign landing pages?
MS: I think my good friends over at AdEspresso – they were recently acquired by Hootsuite, a fellow Vancouver company — they’re doing some really good stuff. I love their blog. In fact, they quote you there.
I’d have to think really hard to narrow down a specific landing page example, but in terms of components, or landing page elements, less is always more, something simple that’s really congruent with the ad itself.
Drive FB ad traffic to a landing page that’s simple & consistent with your ad. Less = more. Click To Tweet
The job of an ad and the job of an email is to get people to a landing page, and the job of a landing page is to convert, whether I’m asking for your email or I’m asking for you to make a purchase. And the beautiful thing about Facebook pixels is if someone doesn’t decide right then and there, you’re able to do some retargeting campaigns to refine further.
CP: Are there certain verticals that are more successful with Facebook advertising than others?
MS: I was just speaking at Marketo’s conference last week and they are, as you know, almost exclusively B2B, and so my talk was very geared towards the B2B audience.
I think Facebook has a reputation for being known to perform better for B2C, but I always like to say that businesses are running as “people to people.”
In terms of verticals, it’s probably easier to say what verticals are more difficult to reach, which are the highly regulated ones like insurance or finance — but otherwise with every conceivable small business and niche or industry there’s a market that can can take advantage of generating leads on Facebook.
CP: When we talk Facebook ads, what are some missed opportunities?
MS: This comes back to the subject that’s close to my heart, which is really that relationship component: customer care, really engaging well when people are actually commenting and engaging on your ad.
I think what happens — especially with marketers that do the dark ads — is these ads can be very effective and you can be really selective in who you’re reaching without populating your wall, but then what often happens is out of sight, out of mind. I’ve seen many major household brands where people are posting negative comments on the ad. There’s spam, people are asking questions about their products, and nobody is responding or acknowledging. I see that as a massive missed opportunity.
I think that’s one of the best investments that companies can make is having trained, qualified, passionate social customer care moderators. I always like to say that technology is moving at warp speed and it’s hard to keep up — but human beings, we’re not changing that much, and we want to know that we’re important, that we matter.
CP: What’s on the horizon?
MS: Right around the corner is Facebook television and that’s launching next month. Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely adamant that they’re not a media company, but just watch — just watch that space, they’re absolutely moving into that.
In the United States, the TV advertising industry is worth about $70 billion — it’s over $200 billion globally. And so Facebook now has licensed/paid for original content to be aired on video. And remember, they also have that app that they brought out not long ago that you can stream through your Apple TV or Amazon Fire.
So what’s coming next month are full one-hour shows that are highly professionally produced and then also small episodes — three to 30 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours, from what I’ve read.
For advertisers and marketers, we have to be thinking about quality video ads because that’s where Facebook’s next monetization horizon is (monetizing this digital streaming video with mid-roll ads). They swear they’re not going to do pre-roll, so let’s hope they stick to that.
Think quality Facebook video ads — for @MariSmith, that’s next on FB’s monetization horizon. Click To Tweet
It’s all about being in that frame of mind — somebody’s watching a show they’re really engaged in and all of a sudden, just like television, it interrupts and your ad comes in. So when it comes to video, it’s about how can you make it quirky, or fun, or entertaining, or emotional — I don’t think those things will ever go away as long as we’re human.
At the F8 conference, within the first 30 seconds Zuckerberg was talking about camera, and camera platform and developing for the camera. I saw some really cool augmented ads by Nike, and they were incredible.
Facebook is also really pushing live and they’re also deploying a lot of resources to combat fake news. They also announced two weeks ago that they’re they’re going to hire 3,000 more employees to make a team of 7,500 employees dedicated to watching for fake news plus anything untoward happening on Facebook live.
Really the key is for businesses and marketers is really education. I can’t stress that strongly enough. That’s why I just I love that you guys are doing this conference — you can’t get enough quality education.