Quest 79 – Our company challenge to inspire ourselves and those around us

After our Lockdown 2.0 team desk cycling challenge for FORCE Cancer charity, we were looking for another initiative to keep the team positive, active and inspired. After listening to a Clubhouse discussion, we stumbled upon Quest 79 and our team challenge was found!

What is Quest79

Explorer and Paralympic athlete Karen Darke is the founder of Quest 79 Inspirational Challenges. She feels her journey & purpose through life has been uniquely connected to gold – the 79 in Quest79 comes from the fact that 79 is the atomic number for gold. Plus her gold medal in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was the 79th medal for her country!

Originally Karen launched Quest 79 to raise £79K for The Spinal Injuries Association charity, whilst cycling across 7 continents in 9 rides on her handbike. This has grown into something bigger, Quest79 is about making the world a brighter place while also helping to find your inner gold.

Karen says “We aim to inspire thousands of young people around the world to believe in themselves and their dreams, and to embrace our message around ICE: Inner Gold; Connection; Environment. Being brave enough to seek our inner gold, connect with others, and respect and embrace our environment, then personal change can lead to local and global change.”

The Quest79 Challenge asks people to…

“Take a moment, decide what you love or what you’d like to change…and create your own unique Quest 79 project. Then when you’re ready with a mix of excitement with a bit of fear and the question ‘Can I really do this?’ then register your Quest and let your adventure begin!”

Embracing the “Inner Gold, Connection & Environment” we have challenged each of our team to come up with their own challenges inspired by Quest 79. Some are choosing to cycle 79 miles, run 79km, do 79 random acts of kindness.

As a company, Launch Online is also giving each team member £79 to spend on something which embraces the ICE challenge, whether it is a learning course, giving to a charity, reading 79 books or something similar.

Our Quest79 launched on 16 February (7+9=16!) and will run for 79 days until 6 May. We’ve already started our Quests, follow our journey on our social media to track our progress!

 

How much should you spend on Facebook ads?

How much to spend on Facebook (& instagram) ads is a question we get asked a lot and the answer obviously will depend on your industry, your audience and your margins.

Here’s a 6 step approach to help you understand what your Facebook & Instagram ad spend could be:

Step 1: What are your objectives?

Before you start any advertising, you need to know why you are doing it. What is the purpose of Facebook Ads, what do you want to achieve from it? If your objective is to increase awareness, your strategy and costs may be very different to an objective of generating sales. 

Step 2: What are your existing costs? 

Here are some important numbers you need to know:

  • Current cost per lead/sale/event – what is the current cost to get your customer? You might even want to split this out between a cost per unique sale, cost per customer, cost per event (e.g newsletter sign up, contact form etc). This will help you understand what your current costs are so that when you start advertising, you have something to aim for.
  • Website conversion rate? What is your current website conversion rate from different channels? This will help in understanding how many website visitors you need in order for a user to convert (e.g  sign up to a newsletter, make a purchase, contact you etc)

Step 3: Who is your audience?  

Nope, it’s not everyone! Come up with personas of your target audience, who are they, what do they do, what are their interests? This is going to help you build audiences and discover the size of potential prospects in the Facebook audiences tool. Your budget is going to impact how big your Facebook audiences are, for example if your budget £5 a day, you’re not going to effectively be able to go after millions of people.

There is a metric called ‘frequency’ on social ads and this is the average times someone has seen your ad and this directly correlates to your budget and your audience size. You’re going to want someone to see your ad at least a couple of times for them to take an action, in order for this to happen, you need enough budget for the size of the audience. When building your audience, Facebook will give you estimates of reach and you can start doing some modelling on how much budget you think you will need to get a desired frequency. 

Step 4: What is your existing marketing budget?  

When it comes to Facebook advertising, you could spend £1 a day if you wanted to right up to millions of pounds so you need a rough idea of what your budget will be.

To help with this, you may have some targets to aim for. Let’s say your aim was to generate at least 150 sales from Facebook advertising.

Although it’s difficult to know exactly what your CPA’s will be if you have not advertised on the platform before, by having some figures from step 2, you can come up with some rough costs to start with.

Here’s an example:

  1. Sales target is 150 units
  2. Current website conversion rate is 3% from paid activity
  3. Current average cost per click is £0.50 (if you don’t know this, research some industry averages)
  4. In order to get 100 sales you therefore need 5,000 visitors (Visitors/conversion rate = sales)
  5. Ad spend = £2,500 (£0.50 x 5,000)
  6. CPA = £16.60 (£2,500/150)

The above figures are a very rough guide, but it will help you if you’re struggling to know what to start with. Facebook advertising fluctuates depending on the time of year and your costs will differ depending on quality of creative and overall product.

Step 5: Don’t expect results straight away  

You shouldn’t expect results straight away, it will take time to test different creatives, audiences and objectives to get your desired result. You shouldn’t edit a campaign in the first 7 days of it launching, this is when Facebook ‘learns’ so don’t panic after the first 24 hours. Give it time. 

You also need to consider your frequency levels – if your campaign is struggling to get a frequency higher of 1 and you wanted at least 2, perhaps give it more budget or reduce the audience size.

It’s also important to note that your remarketing audiences (e.g. people that have been to your website, people that know you or have purchased from you before) will have a lower CPA than prospecting audiences.

Our advice is always to split these audiences out. Have separate campaigns for remarketing and prospecting. This will allow you to monitor the cost per sale for each type of audience.

Step 6: It’s not that straight forward

Attribution – every advertisers nightmare! It’s rare that a user will see a Facebook Ad, click on it and buy off you straight away. There are many different touch points now, as highlighted in Jaye’s blog here.

Additionally, with the recent IOS privacy changes, discussed here, Facebook attribution could become even harder to analyse so remember to not look at social advertising on its own, it’s part of a bigger picture, working together with your other channels.

 

How To Track Google Shopping Free Listings

Winner of the UK Search Awards Best Use of Search

We’ve raised £1000 for FORCE Cancer Charity!

And the Winner Is…

A Google Ads Strategy for Christmas and Black Friday

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to make sure your Google Ads campaigns are fully prepared for what promises to be an extraordinary time for online retailers.

Whilst Black Friday and Christmas have traditionally caused a surge in online shopping, this year Google are anticipating unprecedented levels of traffic. Their recent survey found that more than a third of UK shoppers who normally shop in stores say they won’t this year, with 70% stating they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your campaigns are in the best position possible as we approach the festive season.

Budget Forecasting

Whilst it’s not usually what most business owners want to hear – If you want to maintain your share of the pie, it’s crucial that your budgets reflect the uplift in traffic. Knowing exactly how much extra you should be investing can be tricky, but here is an insight into how utilising old data and an underused metric can help!

In the case of prepping for the Holiday period, data from seasons past can be a brilliant place to start when planning future budgets. When you’re looking back at your previous years’ performance with budget in mind, some key metrics you want to take note of here are Cost (obviously!) and, what I’d refer to as the unsung hero of metrics, Search Impression Share. Search impression share as explained by Google isthe impressions that you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive.” In layman’s terms, this more or less is the percentage which shows the portion of your target audience that you’re showing ads to.

So how does this tie into budget planning? 
If, for example, in 2019 your spend for October was £1,000 and your impression share was 75%, yet your spend on the same campaign for November was £2,000 and impression share was 50%, this indicates that your increased spend wasn’t enough to maintain your market share for the size of the growing audience, ultimately meaning your ads aren’t being seen by a large chunk of users actively searching for your services. This could give you an insight moving forward into how much extra you’ll need to invest to find that sweet spot of reaching a decent portion of your target audience, whilst staying within a reasonable budget.

In short, simply throwing money at Google during the holiday period is never a solution, but ensuring that a realistic, well-researched budget is in place and accounted for is essential for the success of your PPC campaigns.

Be Discoverable

The average user’s path to purchase is continuing to become more complex and long winded with each passing year. With Google reporting that 71% of U.K. holiday shoppers used three or more channels to do their holiday shopping last year, being present and standing out across those channels at varying stages will be more important than ever and your marketing efforts will need to reflect this. Whilst search campaigns will undoubtedly continue to play a huge role, this year relying on them alone may not be enough – so here are a couple of other areas to consider.

If your offering is product-led then it’s likely Shopping campaigns will be something you’re already running or have at least considered. When implemented properly, these campaigns can be highly effective, particularly over the busy Black Friday / Christmas period. If it is already a part of your online marketing mix, ensure that your feeds are fully optimised – this means double checking product titles and descriptions as well as keeping images up to date. If Shopping is something that you’re looking to add to your marketing plan, be sure to get the campaign up and running well in advance of the ‘Black Friday surge’. This will give both you and Google’s machine learning systems (more on these later!) plenty of time to not only iron out any kinks, but also to learn and optimise, putting your ads in the best position to succeed when interest is at its peak.

Another point to note: If you’re looking to do a specific promotion on your Shopping ads make sure you leave ample time to submit your promotions to Google, in order to ensure they’re live in time for Black Friday.

If you haven’t tried YouTube ads before, why not start now? In fact, Google reported that 79% of consumers used both Search and YouTube before making a purchase during the Christmas period last year. With the fantastic range of targeting options available, you can be laser-focused on raising awareness to the right audience for your product or service, during that crucial research phase. Better still, this can all be achieved in a cost effective manner (we see some campaigns achieve a cost per view of 1p!). This same idea also applies to Display advertising, where you can tactically show image-based ads to users based on their interests, demographics and more – all whilst on their favourite websites!

Whilst the above focuses mostly on reaching new audiences at the beginning of their journey, it’s just as important to be visible to these users further down the sales funnel. Whilst a well-run search campaign will be picking up users in the market for your offering, proactively putting ads in front of people who have previously visited your website can be an extremely powerful tool. This can be achieved through building meaningful remarketing lists within Google Analytics and will give you the ability to show your products to your most engaged customers as they browse their favourite websites or YouTube channels. With competition peaking during the Black Friday / Christmas period, being able to convert the most ‘low hanging fruit’ could be essential to your success.

Make the Most of your Search Ads

It may seem like an obvious point, but it’s often seen that advertisers don’t utilise every tool available to them when it comes to their search ads. With a limited amount of characters available within the ads themselves, it makes it difficult to get across all the great things your business can offer, whilst also trying to tie in some sales messaging. That’s where maximising the areas around the ads (Ad Extensions) becomes essential.

Sitelinks should already be a mainstay within your search campaigns, but during the holiday season, opportunities within these are often missed. In a broad sense, Sitelinks offer you the ability to present users with relevant sections of the website to the main ad that you’re showing them – typically filled with ‘About Us’ / ‘Contact Us’ type messaging. During the Black Friday / Christmas period, these extensions can be used a bit more tactically, by pushing offers for similar high-demand products or services to the user’s original search.

For example, if a user is searching for ‘Men’s Tennis Racket’, in an ideal world the main copy of your ad will reflect this. A sitelink gives you the opportunity to also tell the user about the fantastic 50% off sale that you have on Tennis Balls – whilst it’s not directly what the user searched for, it’s certainly something that may be of interest and can help you stand out from the crowd.

Callouts should also not be forgotten about – these provide you with short, 25 character sections which could help to concisely get across some key sales messaging. It’s also essential to make sure your price extensions are kept up-to-date and reflecting any offers or sales.

Perhaps the most crucial extension during this period though could be the Promotion extension, which effectively does what it says on the tin. These extensions give advertisers the opportunity to reference the occasion and promote sales without taking up characters in the headline or description of the ads themselves!
Black Friday Ad Example
Where most advertisers’ initial focus will be on ensuring the copy within their text ads is ready to go, it’s vital to ensure that the extensions that go alongside them aren’t neglected and are utilised as another sales tool.

Machine Learning

Black Friday and the Christmas period never fail to be volatile periods for online advertisers, with constant fluctuations in volumes, new search terms popping up at an increased rate and ever-evolving search habits. Due to the events of this year, we’d anticipate seeing this to an even higher degree this holiday season, meaning that there will be a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty heading into it. 

What does this mean for Ads? Well, whilst there is still undoubtedly a place for ‘manual’ control of bids and adjustments in a world of automation, Google’s Smart Bidding offering could be the solution for many advertisers this festive season.

Smart bidding uses advanced machine learning algorithms, alongside a wide range of contextual signals (such as search query, time of day, device, to name a few) to optimise your bids. Simply put, if the signs point towards a potential user being likely to purchase on your site, you’ll pay more for their click and vice versa. What’s more – Smart bidding isn’t just restricted to search campaigns, you can use it across YouTube, Display & Shopping campaigns. In fact, Google report that in early testing, advertisers using Smart Shopping campaigns drove over 20% more conversion value on average at a similar cost. 

“This sounds great – Shall I turn to smart bidding on Black Friday?”

In short, no. A misconception is that a turn to smart bidding will be a quick fix. Due to the systems being reliant on performance statistics from your account to optimise, we’ll often see gradual improvements in campaigns as they generate more data, with the early phases actually proving the most challenging. With this in mind, if you’re looking at utilising smart bidding over Black Friday and Christmas, ensure that there’s been an adequate testing period in the build-up to it. This allows you to see which Smart Bidding system works best for you and also provides the machine more time to build up a pool of data, which will ultimately result in better optimisation and therefore results.

SUMMARY

In summary, more so than years gone by, we will see those who have put the most effort into preparation thrive during the Black Friday / Festive period. Whilst the digital marketing arena has become more unpredictable than ever, taking a measured, strategic approach towards your online advertising efforts will provide a solid foundation to build upon. 

Ensuring your budgets are well thought out (and not just increased for the sake of it!), considering different channels to reach users across their purchasing journey, using all the tools available to you and taking advantage of Google’s machine learning systems should hold your campaigns in good stead and allow you to make the most of what the industry tips to be one of the most exciting times in the digital era.