How Google AdWords’ Similar Audiences Will Revolutionize Your PPC Game
Remarketing lists are one of the single greatest game changers to the digital marketing sphere, ever. In case you didn’t know, these are collections of people who have previously visited your website, triggered your remarketing tag, and can now be targeted by you in future ad campaigns. It’s a very effective way of unearthing qualified leads and getting them into your sales funnel at a much faster rate. Plus, studies reveal that remarketed individuals have a higher conversion rate when they are targeted with more ad impressions. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but it speaks to the power of remarketing in its ability to target your most likely converting customers and help move them towards purchasing.
Now let’s take the concept of remarketing a step further by talking about Google’s Similar Audiences feature. Though it’s been around for awhile on the Google Display Network, YouTube Ads, and Gmail Ads, it’s finally arrive for Google Search and Google Shopping, and marketers couldn’t be happier. It’s going to elevate your PPC game to new heights. Trust.
What are Similar Audiences?
A “similar audience” draws from your remarketing list—past website visitors or app users—and helps you target other people who share those same interests. It’s sort of like magically cloning your existing audience to create a wider pool of leads. Only these new leads are very much real people, not clones.
The new Similar Audiences for Search accompanies the already popular Similar Audiences for Display feature, which incorporated your remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). But one of the main differences to note between the two is that the display network requires just 100 active visitors in the last 30 days to form a remarketing list, while the search network requires a minimum of 1,000 active visitors.
Similar Audiences for Search is a welcomed asset to fans of Google AdWords, considering this smart targeting feature is arriving at a time when many had begun switching to other ad platforms, namely Facebook ads—for lower CPCs and better overall targeting. On Facebook, this ‘Similar Audience’-type feature has existed for awhile, called Facebook Lookalike Audiences. In fact, when Google Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping was announced, many of us harkened back to that time last year when Instagram introduced Stories in response to Snapchat Stories.
But while there may be some innate similarities between Lookalike Audiences and Similar Audiences, there are also some important differences between the two.
How does it compare to Facebook Lookalike Audiences?
Google’s Similar Audiences are nearly identical in concept to Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. Both platforms will hit a website visitor with a remarketing tag (in FB’s case, the Facebook Pixel), and track their search behaviors to find more customers that are like them. They also allow you to import information regarding your current customers to help formulate the new audience—in Facebook this is called Custom Audiences and in Google it’s called a Customer Match list.
So how are they actually different?
To understand their differences is to understand who they’re actually targeting. Facebook is a repository for all sorts of consumer-specific information—favorite restaurants, bands, movies, TV shows, and sports teams are typed out on personal pages, fan pages, and everywhere for the world to see. Thus, targeting can get very, very in-depth based on a person’s interests. On the other hand, individuals on Google may land on your site but may not be all that interested in the services you’re selling. Is this to imply that Google’s feature is somehow less worthy? Absolutely not. In fact, Google claims that their Similar Audiences can give advertisers around 60% more impressions, 48% more clicks, and 41% more conversions.
So who’s the real winner? By the looks of it, you are. More ad targeting options means more opportunities for split testing and determining which gives you a better ROI. Just remember that the ads themselves can only get you so far; these advanced targeting options can hand you more clicks, but your conversion rate is still beholden to an effective landing page and good on-site user experience.
Regardless of which platform your allegiance lies (why not both?), here are the areas where Similar Audience truly shines.
Areas Where Similar Audiences Rules
- Bid Modifiers
One spectacular aspect of Similar Audiences for Search is the ability to see what search queries users are typing into Google to find your site. Based on this information, you can raise your bids on the most popular terms to get the most qualified leads to your landing pages. Let’s take one of the planet’s largest auto manufacturers as an example.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been using Google AdWords longer than most brands. Since 1998, they’ve invested in campaigns across display, search, and video ads targeting prospective car buyers around the world. As soon as they heard about Similar Audiences, they had to give it a shot.
Since 2015, they’d been exploring remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) and seeing positive outcomes when it came to transforming these prospects into buyers. When Similar Audiences for Search was introduced in 2017, Chrysler saw an opportunity to improve their numbers in one critical area—first-time site visitors. While these visitors made up around 70% of their users, they were also 50% less likely than repeat visitors to engage with the company. They weren’t completing opt-in forms, answering questions on the site, or signing up for anything in general.
Similar Audiences for Search came to the rescue. Chrysler was able to modify their bids and adjust their landing pages to appeal to qualified customers who were typing in terms like “Chrysler Town and Country” or “Ram trucks.” They were able to turn these first-time visitors into customers at a less expensive cost-per-acquisition from their more generically targeted search campaigns.
Within a couple months, they saw an 11% increase in CTR and a 22% increase in conversions with the Similar Audiences campaigns. Quite remarkable to say the least.
- Choosing From The Most Amount of People
Google receives more than 3 billion searches every day, while the Display Network has well over 24 trillion impressions every day. This is all great news for ad reach—but also kind of daunting for many marketers. I mean, where does one begin their targeting efforts? Well thanks to Similar Audiences, you can make this size a little more manageable by getting only the most qualified customers.
CORT, a transition services company headquartered in Virginia, was having this very issue before Similar Audiences came along. Their goal was to drive online lease transactions but they wanted to cast a wide net to cater to customers nationwide. In order to accomplish this objective, they would use remarketing in combination with Similar Audiences to create awareness among new audiences.
CORT utilized remarketing lists from users who had visited their website, and segmented them by the pages they visited. Pretty soon, the company was able to harvest a fresh crop of high-performing customers from a much bigger pool than before. These customers mirrored the habits of their previous visitors to a T, and the results were rather noteworthy.
Their conversions grew by 31%, in tandem with an overall conversion rate increase of 27%. But not only were more conversions taking place, there was something more to this. Something that you should see when you use Similar Audiences for yourself.
- Lower Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA)
The cost-per-acquisition metric is so important. Many fresh marketers discount it just as long as their conversion rate is high—but if the cost to acquire every customer is also high, your margins will be non-existent. Thanks to Google Similar Audiences, many brands are seeing a significant decrease in their CPA. They are paying for fewer ads, and the ads they’re serving are going to higher quality customers.
This is what happened for CORT. They saw a CPA drop of 43% while reaching thousands more customers.
Because Similar Audiences is now available for Shopping advertisers, it should provide a nice boon for ecommerce stores—especially smaller ones who don’t have as many site visitors. If your store only has a few thousand visitors, a Similar Audience could help you find many more likely purchasers to improve your early sales.
It isn’t just small stores that are reaping rewards. Massive gaming shop Gamestop has reported a 30% increase in their conversion rate since using Similar Audiences with shopping ads.
- Customer Match
As part of this exciting release, Google announced the addition of Customer Match for Shopping. What this does is allow ecommerce stores to hyperfocus campaigns aimed at their most valued audiences. These include categories such as previous buyers, email subscribers, rewards members, or even in-store shoppers.
ULTA Beauty is one of the brands seeing early successes from Customer Match for Shopping. They’re using the feature in cohesion with what they describe as their “high-value email list subscribers.” By pointing their most valuable consumers at the top selling brands they market, ULTA has seen higher CTRs and conversion rates with those loyal shoppers.
Think of Customer Match as a way to give your best customers a friendly reminder about your product offerings. If they’ve purchased from you before, they are far more likely to do it again. After all, 40% of an ecommerce store’s revenue is created by 8% of its customers—there’s a reason why Customer Match provides a great opportunity for ecommerce success.
- Rewarding Successful Sections on your Site
This somewhat ties into the ULTA Beauty example, but it shows even more outstanding results for Charlotte Russe. The fashion retailer used Customer Match to adjust their bids according to customers who were searching their top categories. Using different lists, they found that customers coming by way of Customer Match were converting at up to 30% higher rates.
Is Ecommerce Back on AdWords?
Ecommerce never really left AdWords, but so many of the FBAs and dropshippers had found success on places like Facebook, Amazon, and even Instagram that AdWords wasn’t being talked about as much as it used to be. But a recent study found that retailers’ biggest AdWords spend is through Google Shopping, which means that the platform is especially killing it in that one area. It should continue to improve as more brands implement Customer Match into their marketing strategy.
Similar Audiences for Search will hopefully revolutionize your PPC game by preventing you from having to overtest ads. As we’ve seen in the early success stories, many brands are experiencing lower CPA costs as a result the better audience targeting. And even though the elephant in the room for AdWords has always been really high CPCs, if Similar Audiences continues to operate as advertised (no pun intended) this issue will resolve itself—through bid modifying on better keywords.
How Will You Find Success?
By testing. Try many different ads, ad sets, and campaigns in conjunction with a variety of landing pages to see how your ROI evolves, or devolves. As with any remarketing strategy, Similar Audiences only gets better when you have a bigger sample size from which to draw, so if you’re a newer site just hang tight, wait for your 1,000 visitors to roll in, and begin testing from there.
Don’t get too excited with Similar Audiences that you start expanding your budget too high right off the bat. Like with any paid campaign, wait for your conversion rate to start climbing before scaling up.