Check out Andy’s latest appearance on the Ecommerce Coffee Break podcast. You can listen by clicking the link and check out the transcript below if you prefer to read!
Simple Google & Facebook Ads Setups
Claus: Today we’re going to talk about Google Ads and what kind of impact they can make on small to medium brands. Specifically, we’re going find out from an expert what a simple, but effective, setup can look like when you talk about Google Ads and go into analytics. Therefore, I have Andy Janaitis with me. He’s the founder and chief strategist of PPC Pitbulls. He works with passionate producers of good products to build authentic customer relationships to get more sales online. He focuses on e-commerce marketing and driving measurable results through Google Ads, their analytics, and custom data-specific digital marketing strategy. Welcome, Andy; how are you today?
Andy: Great! Thanks for having me!
Claus: Google Analytics, Google Ads, and everything that comes from there might be a bit of a mystery for a small business that is scaling. These tools have been around for a very long time and they have a million and one different features, so we want to talk about how you can simplify this road of getting into paid advertising. Give me a bit of background: what you see from your clients and where they struggle the most.
Andy: A lot of the concern about Google Ads as you referenced, comes from the history of the product. In the past, there was a lot of massive keyword search, looking for tons of longtail keywords. We run a lot of audits for new clients and it’s amazing when we inherit these Google Ads accounts, we’ll see the complexity of the setup with 20-30 different campaigns, ad groups, and literally thousands of keywords. They’re using exact keywords like “shopping for dog food in X city.” The reality is that you don’t need to do that anymore. Google has now rolled out a lot of products that simplify this quite a bit and relies on automation. The good news is that there’s a much simpler, and more manageable, account structure that exists now, utilizing these new tools that Google has available. The tradeoff is that you don’t see as much of the detail. A lot of it’s extracted away from you, so you do have to know what you’re doing and make adjustments and changes as needed.
If you’re scared and think you can’t get into this because you think you need to hire an agency at thousands of dollars at a lower ad spend, and think you need to do all the keyword research, and all the things you’re going to have to do for ads, the good news is that there’s a much simpler way and the setup doesn’t have to be quite that complex.
Claus: I’ve been doing Google AdWords since about 2000 and you mention there were certain things you had to do like searching for all those keywords. It was actually painful. But things are getting easier.
For e-commerce merchants, their main focus isn’t on maintaining ads. Give me an idea of what options Google now has in their portfolio that makes it easier for e-merchants to get their ads in front of the right person.
Andy: Before I get too deep into some of the specific campaign types, I think the key principle, as people are getting started, is to make sure you’re able to measure things. Make sure that your website is set up to track conversions. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see. People get excited when they know clicks are coming in, but do they know what people are doing once they hit the website? Did they put items in their cart? Did they ultimately check out? Are you getting revenue from these clicks? These are the basics. You’re never going to be successful in Google Ads until you get that set up.
Once you’re feeding that data back into Google, it will help you understand how things are going. But, more importantly, everything’s automated, so you’re feeding that data back in so Google can start to learn and improve your campaign performance based on that data. It learns that a certain group of people made purchases, so Google can then show the ads to other people who look or act like them demographically.
To answer your question, once you have those principles in place, the first place to start is Performance Max. That’s Google’s newest campaign type. It includes what you might be familiar with in search like keywords and showing up in ads based on headlines and descriptions. But more importantly for e-commerce, it’s going to be shopping as well: that carousel of products you see across the top of your page. It’s pulling your shopping data directly from your site; taking your product headlines and descriptions, then automatically reaching out and putting those products in front of customers based on what they’re searching for and information on the customers themselves. Getting that Performance Max campaign set up first is kind of the key to the whole thing.
Claus: You mentioned that you do a lot of assessments for clients who come over from other agencies or who have done Google Ads themselves and you have a lot of tools, such as Google Shopping, Google Analytics, etc. What is the first step on your side to clean up what you’re presented with?
Andy: I love working with e-commerce because more and more people are on Shopify, which is great; Shopify – out of the box – is going to give you the older version of Google Analytics – Universal Analytics – so you need to make sure you have that configured properly. As long as it’s configured properly, you should have some pretty good customer data flowing through. That’s the first step: make sure you’ve got your site data flowing through one of these free analytics products. Google Analytics does such a great job. It’s free. It’s easy to see all your data, whether it[‘s coming from Google Ads, Facebook Ads, organic traffic, etc.
Then we turn to your Google account, similarly, you’re going to want to have your conversion tracking set up so you’re tracking as people are executing these various behavioral events. You want to make sure you’re sending over your customer data, and there are a number of different ways to do this. Recently, we’ve been using Klaviyo as the piping system for that. If you have an email list set up in Klaviyo, it’s pretty easy to pipe that data over to Google Ads so you have a customer list set up in Google Ads that you can later use for targeting.
Another thing you need is some general information about your value proposition and who you’re selling to. You’re going to have to provide some headlines and descriptions. I mentioned earlier that Google Shopping takes the information right from your site, so you don’t have to worry too much about that, though you may want to come back and edit later. The big thing you’ll have to put in is your headlines and description; hopefully, some images if you have some. Video works really well these days, too.
The core of all of that is understanding who your customer is and what your goals are to create that content properly.
Claus: You mentioned Performance Max, which I love a lot because it makes things so much easier. You also mentioned that they need to have certain assets in order to get started. Can you give us some tips on how these assets should work in a perfect world? What sort of homework does a merchant need to do in order to get this going?
Andy: It’s work that you probably should have already done on your site. The core of all of this is knowing your customer, understanding your value proposition, and understanding why someone would buy the product. Then you get to provide headlines – 25-30 character text and descriptions – 60 or 90 characters. For these, you’re going to want to go back to your website and get headers that are attention-grabbing, explain the value props of the product, and sell yourself to the customer. You will get to specify 15 headlines and 10 longer headlines and descriptions.
Once you run your ads for a little while, you’re going to get some data back and Google’s going to let you know which ones are performing best, good, and poor. From there, it’s a matter of A/B testing; switching out the ones that aren’t performing as well and switching in some others that have similar themes to the ones that are performing well.
This procedure is similar in both text and image-based creative. For images, you can do square and landscape, with specific dimensions and requirements. Google’s going to mix and match those and set each with different text-based assets you’ve already provided. Then put those combinations in front of the people they’re most likely to work with.
Claus: Sounds like Performance Max has a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) working in the background. You said you need some data. How long does it take to get enough feedback so you can really start with the A/B testing?
Andy: It takes at least a week or two, sometimes a month or two. But more important than time is the amount of data you’re getting back. You want 50 purchases for a single Performance Max campaign; 50 purchases over the course of a month. The reason why that number is important is that it gets back to how you set your budget. If you’re seeing some great results, you might see a 3x return. That’s a good starting point if we don’t have a lot of information about a business. It means for every dollar in ad spend, you’re getting back $3 in revenue. Using those numbers, you can start to back up and figure out how many dollars you have to put up at your average order value to get 50 purchases over the course of that first month.
To a degree, you can kind of compress the learning phase if you’re spending a little bit more to get more data back in. I would not recommend throwing a lot of money at it to speed things up a lot. You want to take it slow and see the data coming in, while you’re making adjustments as necessary. Within 2-6 weeks, you should have a pretty good assessment of whether or not Performance Max is going to work for you. If you’re really limiting your budget, you’re not likely to get enough for that assessment that quickly because you’re limiting the amount of data coming back in.
Claus: Your team at PPC Pitbulls, you said were working with Klaviyo and Shopify, but how do you work on customer lifetime value, retargeting, and remarketing? Is that something you can do with these new tools at Google as well or is that a separate strategy?
Andy: What’s nice about Performance Max is that it comes right out of the box. As long as you set up that first step and get your measurement done, you’re sending that cookie data back to Google, and you’re using Klavio or some other solution to send that customer data back to Google, Google will know who’s been on your site and who’s been long-term customers. And if you’re using Klaviyo, there’s more segmented information about them.
As we’re sending that data back into Google, Performance Max will automatically do some retargeting. They’ll show different ads to different people along the lifecycle journey; maybe a shopping ad to get them to click, then image ads and YouTube ads to make sure we ultimately close the sale.
If you have a bigger budget, or you’ve grown out of Performance Max, there are some really cool things we can do with some of the other campaign types, like YouTube remarketing, display remarketing, and even some different approaches inside of search itself.
But to get started, throw it all into Performance Max and let Google handle it for you. Especially at lower budgets, it’s the best chance at success.
Claus: You’ve done Facebook for a long time, we all have, but it’s not as predictable as it was in the past. What’s your prediction for this year, how much power will Google regain compared to other ad platforms?
Andy: I like Google a lot. That’s where a lot of our background has been It’s very intent-based. When someone comes into Google, you already know they’re searching for a product similar to yours, so you have that search information already. For smaller businesses, Google is super powerful. The challenge is when you get into trying to scale really far. If you’re trying to spend $100,000/month in ad spend, you’re probably not going to get that done at Google; at least at first. That’s where you have to layer in some of these other approaches and use things like Facebook. With things like TikTok coming up, and people focusing on email marketing, I think you’re going to see more dispersion in the market. I’m hearing about digital ads on some of the streaming services. So there are a lot of different places to put ad dollars. In the past, it’s been Facebook and Google taking up 99% of those digital advertising dollars. I think we’re going to see that disperse.
For us, personally, with smaller brands, we’re pulling back on Facebook; we’re just not seeing the effectiveness there. There’s not a right or wrong between Google and Facebook. It’s more of what’s right for your brand. Seeing what’s working when you’re looking at your measurements and the results you’re getting.
I’d say, in general, you’re going to see more dispersion. Also, rather than these platforms’ direct response marketing, brands are going to be focusing more on email marketing; making sure that for the customer data you have, once someone’s made a purchase or visited your site, you’re nurturing those leads. You’re going to need to use Google and Facebook ads at some point to grow your list, but ultimately that email marketing is going to be your most profitable source.
Claus: I agree with you. I think the omnichannel approach is the best you can do; spread your marketing budget over all channels. Also, remarket on all channels. Quite often people see you on one channel and still come back to Google and buy from there.
When a small business comes to you, what kind of packages do you offer? How does your process work?
Andy: We like to start with our 90-Day Digital Success Roadmap. We’ll do an audit and look at what you’re currently doing, at how you’re measuring your results, look at what your competitors are doing, and then figure out – for your brand specifically – what’s going to be the best way to achieve your goals. That’s going to be different for every brand, based on what your budgets are, what your goals are, specific product lines, specific geographies, and the features of your product. We really try to get to know you and your business. Then we create a really clear, 90-day, step-by-step plan of what you need to get done to have success in your e-commerce marketing.
Ultimately, you have a valuable item to take away with you whether you work with us to implement this plan, do it in-house, or work with someone else.
I always ask: What are your goals? What is your budget? Let’s not just throw a bunch of money at the wall. Let’s figure out how we can best meet your goals.
Claus: Are there specific industries you work with?
Andy: We work with a lot of different industries and we like to focus on craft brands – great people making great products: higher quality, food, fashion, housewares, things people have a mission behind. We work with really passionate people who are building products the right way. I personally find it more fun to work with those types of businesses. They are also usually high-value products where there isn’t a race to the bottom to see who can sell it the cheapest. These products usually take a little more time to explain the benefits of the product and what makes it so special. I think that makes it a little easier to succeed on some of these paid marketing channels.
Claus: Tell me a little about your pricing structure. What can I expect there?
Andy: We do everything flat-rate. Our base package for that initial audit plan is $1200. Once we have everything set up, it’s roughly keyed to what you’re spending. But we don’t want to be one of those agencies who manages your ads based on how many dollars you spend to the ‘T’ of ad spend and that’s the percentage we get paid. It’s not a good incentive because it seems like all we’re trying to do is spend your money. We have some rough tiers to help us figure out how much support you need, but it’s all flat-rate and month-to-month. You come in, we’ll do the audit, figure out what services you might need, and if you decide to continue working with us, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to pay every single month. No contract. You can cancel at any time. We’ll help you meet your goals; that’s our primary objective.
Claus: I love that approach. It makes it much easier to budget. In my experience, my clients are happy, at some point, to work with the right agency because it can be overwhelming. Chasing Google is like chasing a moving target because there’s always new stuff in there. It’s better to leave it to the experts.
Andy, thanks so much for your time; a lot of gold nuggets in there. Have a great day!
Andy: Thank you for having me!