On today’s episode, Steve interviews Ross Bucholc, VP of Paid Search at MuteSix, about growing local SMBs with paid search, as well as changes happening at Google and YouTube in the paid search sector.
Episode Transcript — Growing Locally with Google Ads
Introducer: You're listening to The Spend $10k a Day Podcast brought to you by the performance marketing experts at MuteSix. This is your source for cutting edge insight into the world of online advertising. From the team with more Facebook case studies than any other agency on the planet here is your host, Steve Weiss.
Steve Weiss: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Spend $10k a Day Podcast. We haven't been on in a while and I miss everyone. I'm just going to be honest, put that out there. This is third week of January and the eCommerce ecosystem and the paid media, paid acquisition ecosystem is changing rapidly and I have an awesome guest today. We recently hired a guru of paid search when it comes to eCom and legion and local SCM is growing as well as product feeds. It's an area that we want to talk more about. Talk a lot about the vision of where product is going on Google as well as talk a little more about what the changes going on at YouTube. We're lucky to have today Ross who is our VP of paid media at MuteSix. I don't want to taut the word MuteSix but we have an awesome guest today. Ross thank you for joining us.
Ross: Oh, my pleasure Steve. Thanks for having me both on the podcast and at the company.
Steve Weiss: Cool man. He's a Jersey guy and there's 2 Jersey people on the phone. We're not scared to say we're not from New York, we're from Jersey. We're very adamant repping Jersey to the fullest.
Ross: Very proud to be, yes.
Steve Weiss: So Ross has a really unique way of thinking about paid media on Google. I hate using the word paid search because that's the big ambiguity going on in the Google space because Google is changing ads much or more than Facebook. Ross tell us a little more about the changes you see for both eCommerce brands as well as companies that are looking to generate leads on page search and be very high level obviously location's important but also using third party data to really find efficiencies in the platform.
Ross: Yeah, so I know this podcast is called Local Search but really whether you're spending 500 hundred bucks a month or 500 thousand a month really the same strategy should apply, right? So, the thought behind the local aspect of it is just in sharing from a geo perspective that you're reaching your target demographic. I always tend to say that every dollar spent outside of your demographic is a waste of dollar and really it is. If that person either doesn't fit the mold for your product or can't afford your product there's no reason you should be showing an ad to a person in that area code so, the whole approach around structuring an account and building stuff out, a lot of agencies just like to cast a wide net so they'll launch a national account and then figure it out from there refining geos.
Ross: I kind of like to take the opposite approach, which is leveraging historic data to figure out before launching really what zip codes you should and shouldn't be live in to find efficiencies right off the bat and then when you're telling me you need more and you want to scale that's when we'll look to approach zip codes outside of the geos that we've determined are going to be successful for you upon launch.
Steve Weiss: So one key strategy, which really opened up my mind in terms of really scaling paid media on Google has been integration of looking at first party data into your Google campaign. So you're seeing all of this customer data. Let's say that you're a shirt company, a jeans company, a finance company. You know the zip code of all your buyers, correct?
Ross: One would hope so. You would be surprised how many that don't. But the good ones do, yes.
Steve Weiss: So, your company that has the zip codes of your best customers, why aren't you using those on your paid search campaigns? Shouldn't you be doubling down on say the non brand keywords. Let's say you're a jeans company and you know that a good portion of your buyers are in Los Angeles, just very high level. Shouldn't you be doubling down on your testing when it comes to certain keywords, like open keywords in those specific areas? You should be taking that data and really building it into your campaigns, correct?
Ross: Yeah, exactly. So, whether you're getting the data from Google or whatever tracking tools you use in house, all it takes is exporting a spreadsheet and sending it over so we can analyze and figure it out. I'm sure most advertisers know their top zips but when you're talking hundred and thousands, which ones tier 1 versus tier 2 or tier 3 it becomes a more robust breakout. But to your point, yes. Look, if L.A. is where your market is you should be spending dollars there and not in New Jersey where I am.
Ross: With that being said, I think what's smart about that approach is it allows you to expand into different channels like YouTube obviously is the hotter one now. Would you rather test YouTube in running it nationally or at least in a market that you know has worked for you historically in one of the other channels. I think it only makes sense to start small in an area where you know it's fitting your target demographic and then if you see this robust amount of success then let's scale it to other areas. And there's strategies around doing that the right way as well but really all of it comes back to upon launching your new or reorganized account, figuring out where you should be playing and then structuring your account in a way that maximizes your spend in those top performing zip codes and then tiering it from there and back filling with maybe your tier 2 or tier 3 zip codes depending on your daily budget and how much you're looking to scale.
Steve Weiss: So that was a big learner for you man. I learned a lot just talking to you about your methodology of really thinking deeply about location and integrating that into your paid search campaigns whether you're an eCommerce brand, a company that literally leverages Google for legion. That one piece I feel like a lot of companies are missing is really that location piece into their search campaign because then you could double if you find a location that crushes it, you could double it down on the audiences in that location, correct?
Ross: You could double down on everything, and that's what I'm saying it's that low hanging fruit where you can come in instantly and clean everything up and just stop spending in areas that don't fit your demo and then reinvest those dollars into expanding to other channels as opposed to just wasting it in areas where you're never going to get a customer.
Steve Weiss: Cool so I hope everyone who is listened to this specific podcast really starts thinking about local. Locally personalizing your ads. Very, very, important besides just search extensions, really thinking about how to build a market, how to build a target ad group for a local market, and how to target, pick out 30 or 40 zip codes or locations that really, based on your customer data, where all your customers are.
Ross: Right, and I think it comes down to Steve, also, knowing the client, getting to know the client and understanding their product offering better, right? So, having a kick off call where you're not just going through the ads, and the keywords, and all the stuff that makes up a paid media account but share with me who your target demographic is. I'm sure the majority of the companies that people work with have that data in house already so it's not something that you need to necessarily go out and invest in and mine data. Just tell me who you're looking for help me understand your brand better and just having that strong foundation is where it makes growing from there so much easier because I have a better understanding of your product and the demographic we want to reach so then I could help you find zip codes that are going to reach that demographic.
Steve Weiss: Yep. Awesome. So number 1 we knocked out location of you really zeroing it out as a key variable in your campaigns. Number 2, you have this approach, which obviously you talk about a lot with us and various people on the team, it's this SKAG approach and I just joke around because you mention that word 20 times whenever I hang out with you man, and you're like this SKAG approach wins. It's not the easiest approach but it's the approach that really is able to generate super high CTRs and really high ad relevance. So, tell us a little more about how brands can obviously switch over to this SKAG approach because I feel like that's something that's kind of unique that even as a search marketer, someone who's been doing this for a long time, I wasn't very familiar with.
Ross: Yeah, so first let me just say that you'll hear the words granularity, efficiencies, and SKAG, and geos, and demographic many times throughout conversations with me. To be fully transparent I use those words a copious amount in conversations. What it stands for is Single Keyword Ad Groups. And it's actually, contrary to popular belief, this isn't some new strategy that Google just came out with. It's been around for as long as I've been in the industry but really you don't see it that often because of the amount of time it takes to implement a strategy like this. So, getting back to SKAG, a Single Keyword Ad Group, all it means is that you're breaking out every single keyword into its own ad. What that means is that you can write ad copy that's specific to every single keyword in your account. Now obviously, if you're thinking about generally accounts have thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of keywords and so writing custom copy for each of those keywords is certainly quite a task. So, generally speaking, what I do is break out all of your keywords into their own ad groups, which is the SKAG and then I'd start by writing custom headlines.
Ross: Generally speaking, when a user does a search and glances at the ads really all they're looking at is the headline and then the URL that you're sending them to. Very few go through the process of digesting the whole ad and making sure it's really something that they want to go to. They just make sure by checking the URL that the site looks legit and then look at the headline and see if it's similar to what they're searching. So, with those custom headlines, what you're going to see is higher click through rates because the user sees the keyword that they just searched as the headline of the ad. So it gives them the perception that they're going to a landing page or a website that is specific to the keyword that they searched. But also, on the back end and Google side they're assigning a quality score of 1 to 10 that's based mostly on click through rate, which I already addressed and then relevancy. So relevancy of the ad you're showing to the keyword being searched and then the landing page to the keyword.
Ross: So, obviously, when Google goes and spiders the account and assigns these quality scores and sees headlines and custom paths that contain the exact keyword you're bidding on, you're more likely to be awarded those higher quality scores as a result of having a high level of relevancy. So, pretty much insured you're knocking out the 2 most important components of assigning a quality score, which are click through rate and relevancy all in one approach with the SKAG approach.
Steve Weiss: Interesting. That's something I never really... I've done some of that just from imagining my old search campaigns but it's the harder road. Building all those, especially if you have an account that has thousands of ad groups and thousands of keywords, how do you pick out which keywords to really start with?
Ross: Well, one, that's why companies hire us so we have to do all the work for you.
Steve Weiss: Let's say you don't have MuteSix as a resource. Let's say you're doing it yourself.
Ross: Right, yep, so you're picking those top 10 keywords that drive 90 percent of your revenue or the biggest lead driver. Or even one where it's a high volume keyword and you're on the fence with where you're at in terms of your CVA, where moving the needle a little bit with your CVCs and bringing them down would get you in a better place for CPA. Really, there's no right answer, it's just a feel thing I'd say. Choose the areas where you're going to make the biggest impact whether its getting volume and potentially bringing down the CVC 5 cents over hundreds of clicks a day is going to the move the needle or for that keyword like I said, where it's driving a majority of the revenue for you, of course lowering your CVCs would just improve the margins there.
Ross: So, there's no right answer. Just go with the keywords that you know that are important to you and I have seen, I audit a lot of accounts in my role and you do see glimpses of it where a client will break out 10 keywords and SKAG those and then everything else is lumped together into their own ad groups. So, I have seen that from time to time but very rarely do I see a full account just SKAGed out and I'd say, again, the reason for that is just it's a huge investment of time. It's going to take tens of hours to write custom headlines but really it sets you up for the long play. This is a long term approach, right? You're investing a lot of time early on but in the long run it sets you up to better manage your account.
Steve Weiss: Awesome. So, 2 main takeaways of this podcast, obviously you're looking to really get into Google. You want Google to be a major resource for you. You don't want Google just to be working for your brand keyword, you want to use Google for actual, real actual acquisition. 2 main things that you need to do, which is kind of different than the best practices is number one just location. Really looking into your customer data. Figuring out how you can narrow down location because location is so important for efficiencies on all of Google's properties including YouTube and then number 2, to really start thinking about doing a SKAG approach for specific keywords in ad sets. You might not be able to do the whole account but really important. We're not going to get a chance to talk about YouTube because YouTube is evolving at such a rapid rate. I know we've had a couple past podcasts about YouTube but stay tuned in probably the next podcast or one podcast away we're going to really dig into YouTube for acquisition or YouTube for action and then I know Ross you have a lot of thoughts on those as well.
Ross: Yeah, look, the thought's kind of the same for my approach to every channel. Like the geo strategy can literally be replicated pretty much everywhere where zip code targeting is an option. So, it very easily translates over to any other channel and really SKAG is the search specific way that I break out accounts but its just focusing on as granular of a level as possible, right? Like on Facebook if you're target demographic is white males that are 25 when you're setting up an account set up your ad sets so that you can show a 25 year old white male to 25 year old white males that are seeing your ad. So, again, it's called something different across each different channel but really just being as granular as possible with the break out of your account to ensure that you're leaving yourself as many options as possible to be as targeted towards the potential customer.
Steve Weiss: Yeah, totally. All right, cool. Well, thanks Ross for jumping out with us. I think this is another very insightful podcast. Stay tuned for our next upcoming podcast, which talks... we're going to dig into a little bit of cannabis and CBD coming up with an expert of what's going on with paid media in cannabis. I think this is a topic that's really big in the news about Facebook starting to allow some form of cannabis on the platform without using the word cannabis but this going to be a topic we're going to dig deep into on the next podcast. Talk soon, thanks.