Once a week, I have a meeting with our VP of marketing and our brand leadership team to go over what’s happening in the digital world of SharpSpring, Inc. We’ve cleverly dubbed our standing meeting invite “Are you down with PPC?” To which the response should always be, “Yeah you know me!”
This is our way of making data fun. You have your hobbies and interests, and we have this. Don’t judge.
I came from an agency background, where these types of status updates were commonplace, and occasionally panic-inducing if it had been awhile since we updated our Excel-spreadsheet connected to an Access database, pivoted beyond all recognition report and the client randomly rang.
What amounts to years of entry-level employee time has been spent pulling data from Google Ads, deleting out excess columns, and reordering just to put it into another document and gain insights into what is actually happening with our marketing dollars.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you – there is a better way!
Enter Marketing Automation
Marketing automation has the unique ability to show you end-to-end ROI for every campaign you’re running, paid or not. While it’s possible to access this information by cobbling together platforms like Google Analytics, Magento, CallRail or other vendors, the result is a disjointed report that often includes duplicated data and/or may be missing data and leads. Producing such a report also happens to take a great deal of time.
A marketing automation platform not only can combine all of that data into one platform, giving you full insight into what’s working and what needs to get axed, but it also tracks your leads as they move through your site (and the sales pipeline), and can send them targeted communication at exactly the right time.
When Two Amazing Platforms Collide
As the digital marketing manager at SharpSpring, one of the features that I’ve found most valuable in our platform is the ability to track our links through marketing automation with Google Ads. Through this, I can track my ad campaigns down to the keyword level to see what was converting into leads, sales, and the exact value of the sale that came in.
The process of linking Google Ads and SharpSpring is as simple as entering a client ID into SharpSpring, granting access on the ad side, and adding a quick tracking parameter on both ends. When Google Ads changed over to final URLs and tracking templates, this made additional tracking to all campaigns even easier.
Setting up SharpSpring and Google Ads tracking really is this easy.
Give it a try. When your marketing automation platform and Google Ads are linked, you’ll start to get clear insight into where your ad dollars are being spent wisely, and what keywords are wasting your budget. A keyword may be driving a ton of leads for your account, which would show up on the Google Ads dashboard, but if only 2% of them are qualified, wouldn’t your money be better spent on the keywords that appear to be converting at a lower rate, but result in more than half of your total sales?
The ability to provide this level of data at a glance, versus that horrible aforementioned Excel report, is where teams will find the true power of marketing automation.
Crush Your Optimizations
Once you have your data synced up in a marketing automation platform, you can quickly and easily identify the keywords that are driving the most traffic, spending the most, and driving the most leads.
A good first step when starting optimizations is to sort by spend within SharpSpring, and then see which keywords have cost a lot of money in a specific time period, but haven’t resulted in any leads. From there, you can focus in on those keywords in the Google Ads interface. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of pulling a search query report to see what searches were causing that keyword to trigger, and adding in negatives where it makes sense. If you feel like your negative keyword game is pretty strong, then it might just be best to pause that keyword if it’s overspending and under-performing.
With your data married in one place, it’s easy to sort based on whatever metric you deem important. Sales data is a crucial piece of information for any company, and with an integration with SharpSpring you can see which keywords are driving the most sales, and which just aren’t cutting it. If you’re working with a limited budget, this type of information is extremely valuable to have. One way to make the most out of a limited budget is to move your high-performing keywords into one campaign, and allocate the bulk of your budget to that campaign.
Without the integration with a marketing automation platform, you could easily make the mistake of just optimizing based on which keywords have the highest lead volume. If you’re not seeing the full picture of your end-to-end ROI, you could still be wasting money on unqualified leads that are never going to result in a sale.
Another quick optimization technique is to take inventory of where your performance stands each month at a specific point in the month. Sometimes for products with a longer sales cycle, it’s easy to miss the fact that a specific keyword isn’t converting. If every month you see leads and a great-looking estimated value, but the leads never move to sales, you’re still not getting the performance you need from those keywords. Look into your sales funnel to see where people could potentially be getting stuck, or your landing page or ad copy might be confusing or misleading, which could lead to a high number of prospects that don’t convert.
Get the Full Picture
Marketers know that their specific tactics don’t work in a silo. With marketing automation, you can see end-to-end ROI in a single place, and get a complete picture of every touch point it takes a lead to convert to a sale.
The benefit of seeing every touch point is you can easily see which of your campaigns were necessary to close a sale, and how they all work together. Some companies use first-click attribution to give “credit” to a campaign, while others use last-click. While choosing one or the other and using it consistently is important for measurement, we all know that a sale rarely ever comes from just one click.
This is where I find it extremely useful to look at secondary campaigns by running a list of leads for a campaign like Google Ads. This allows me to see how many people are requesting a demo of our amazing software who have clicked on a PPC ad in addition to another tactic, like receiving a case of root beer or joining us for one of the events we host in various cities. By comparing the number of leads that have Google Ads as a primary campaign to the number of leads that have Google Ads as a secondary campaign, I can see how many leads ads have had an impact on, even if it is not directly attributed. This is especially useful for tracking tactics like social media, where the value is often harder to prove.
Another key benefit for salespeople is the ability to see exactly which keyword a lead clicked through on, which enables them to tailor the conversation to make it more personal and effective. If a lead is searching for “cheap marketing software,” chances are high they aren’t going to be a right fit for your enterprise solution. This allows salespeople to quickly vet leads in real time and make the most out of a short conversation or one-off email.
Take It Even Further
Combining your Google Ads account and marketing automation platform is the first step to getting the most out of your PPC campaigns. Using the in-depth data to optimize your PPC campaigns will get you the most qualified leads and allow you to make the most of your budget. Beyond that, use your marketing automation platform to send tailored messages to your leads based on their interaction with your site and where they are in the buying process to help move them down the pipeline.