Rick Perreault Unbounce

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Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Rick Perreault, the CEO and Co-Founder of Unbounce, a landing page building tool that makes it easy to build and test landing pages quickly.  This is his second time being a guest on Growth Everywhere! Check out the first episode with him here!

Tune in to hear Rick’s thoughts on how Unbounce brought in $30 million this fiscal year by going upmarket, why organization is a challenge for his growing company and how word of mouth is what drives conversions for them.

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This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

As marketers, we’re always trying to get more leads for our businesses.

But the problem is that all the traditional paid traffic channels are only getting more expensive. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is around $1-$2, with the most expensive ads costing $50 or more.

This means that the average small business spends over $100,000 on AdWords alone each year.

Facebook ads are still relatively underpriced, but they’re rising quickly: average CPC is around 40 cents worldwide, an increase of about 10 cents from 2015.  

With the rising cost of paid traffic, it’s important to hit all the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to boosting your lead generation — and conversion rate optimization is the best way to identify and fix problems that already exist.

By making your conversion flow more efficient, you’ll increase your numbers without spending any extra money, which means that you’ll see a higher ROI on your existing investment.

In this post, we’ll show you how to run conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests on your website, what tools you should be using, and show you a few CRO case studies.

Getting Started with Conversion Rate Optimization

The first step to getting started with CRO is auditing every step of your marketing funnel. Without gathering data, you’re just guessing on what changes you should make, which means that you’ll waste time and effort on tests that don’t get you more leads instead of learning something that will boost your ROI.

Single Grain marketing funnel

What you want to do is gather data in a both quantitative and qualitative way.

Quantitative data helps you break down the numbers at each step in your funnel and figure out where the leaks are, while qualitative data can give you some deep insight into the real pain points of your customers. This can help you refine your marketing copy across the board and boost conversions.

Learn More: Step by Step Guide: How to Build a High Quality Marketing Funnel

Here are some ways you can start measuring qualitative and quantitative data:

Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a simple way to figure out how many people are dropping off at each step of your funnel and where the biggest leaks are. By measuring the data around your funnel, you can get better insight as to the cause of confusion for your customers at certain steps.

But first, you’ll need to set up conversion goals and funnels in Google Analytics.

Your conversion funnel in Google Analytics will show you what “flow” users go through on your site. Here’s an example of what this might look like if you’re trying to measure your order flow:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

In the image above, users first add an item to their cart, move to the billing page, then to the payment page, then to the order review page, and finally to the sales confirmation page. It’s pretty easy to see that the largest drop off here between the “add to cart” stage and the billing page.

When it comes to optimizing conversions, you can see that it’s pretty straightforward: you’d focus on reducing cart abandonment. No guesswork here.

Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics

Using Customer Surveys

One of the biggest wins you can get when it comes to CRO is optimizing your marketing copy. By making your copy more targeted to your audience’s specific pain points, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll stay on your site longer — more so than if you just made design changes.

Surveys are a great way to understand how to optimize your marketing copy. You can use tools like Qualaroo (to survey your website visitors) or SurveyMonkey (to survey your audience from your e-mail list or another source).

For example, here are some survey questions that we asked our audience  (via SurveyMonkey) to see how we could improve our marketing course, GrowthVault.

We matched each survey response to demographic categories with the following questions:

What revenue range does your business fall under?

How many employees does your business have?

These questions are designed to elicit open-ended, story-like responses. From there, we can pick the right stories and write compelling copy to get more customers.

Usability Testing

Usability tests are great to see what barriers prevent users from placing orders or completing a specific call to action on your site.

You can get a group of “test” users who are part of the same demographic as your ideal customer and give them a set of tasks to perform on your site — such as going through the process of placing an order. You can either watch them or have them record their screen as they’re going through this process and have them “think” out loud as they’re figuring out what to do.

Chances are you’ll find that certain areas of your site are hard to navigate or have unnecessary friction.

A quick way to conduct usability tests at once is by using a site like UserTesting.

UserTesting has a wide range of testers from different demographics. To make sure that you’re getting the right people looking at your site, you can create filters and screener questions. For example, you can have people answer what industry they work in before they go through your website.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate OptimizationSource: UserTesting

You can also set your demographic filters by criteria like age, gender, country, and even what device they should use.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Source: UserTesting

Setting Up Your First Landing Page Test

Depending on how much traffic you’re getting to your site, a small increase in conversion rates could result in massive amounts of revenue.

For example, Brookdale, a senior living solutions website, was able to boost their monthly revenue by $106,000 just by replacing the home page banner video with an image when they realized that their target audience was not as likely to watch video.

Just by changing the copy of their CTA, Lifeproof was able to boost their monthly revenue by 16%.

Conversion rate optimization is one area of marketing where small changes can result in huge boosts in revenue over time. In this section, we’ll talk about how to run an A/B test.

A/B Testing Tools

There are variety of tools out there today that let marketers run A/B tests without needing to know how to code. Here are some examples:

Which tool you use isn’t as important as being able to run a large number of tests as fast as possible.

What Tests to Run

According to Instapage, here are some major page elements you should consider testing when running landing page tests:

1) Headline

One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is trying to be clever instead of being clear in their copy. This is especially true for headlines. You only have 10-20 seconds to attract users with your headline, so while you might think that being clever will make your post sound more interesting, it actually just adds more complexity — and complexity reduces conversions.

By making their headline more clear, Movexa, a supplement company, was able to to boost their conversions by nearly 90%.

Their original headline copy looked like the following:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

The headline said “Natural Joint Relief.” The hypothesis was that if they added the word “supplement” to their headline copy (so that it said “Natural Joint Relief Supplement”), it would add more clarity to what the offer is and what the company does.

Once they tested this hypothesis through a variation page, they found that it did indeed beat the control by 89.97%. This just goes to show how even a small amount of vagueness in the headline can reduce your conversions drastically. Be sure to optimize for clarity over cleverness or design.

2) Call to Action

Adding a well-placed call to action is a small tweak you can make on any site to increase conversions.

For example, Consolidated Label, a food label manufacturer, tested a new web page design with a prominent call to action. Their original web page didn’t have a clear call to action:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

They tested a variation page with a more prominent call to action, which asked visitors to request a quote:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

If users can’t tell what they’re supposed to do once they get to your page, then it’s likely that your call to action isn’t prominent enough.

Once Consolidated Label tested this variation, they noticed a 62% increase in conversions.

Learn More: How To Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action

3) Copy Length

Most marketers think that short copy is better. We’ve had it beat into our heads that people don’t have long attention spans, and that the only way to get anyone to take action is by keeping all your copy — landing page, e-mail copy, etc. — brief.

The truth is, shorter copy isn’t always better for conversions. In some cases, longer is better. For example, if you’re selling a high-priced product, then you’ll need to build a longer, deeper relationship with your users before they can trust you and be willing to transact with you.

Even your headline copy can benefit from lengthier rather than shorter.

Check out these two versions of a landing page:

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version A

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version B

Most people would think that Version A resulted in higher conversions because of the cleaner design and shorter copy on the hero image.

However, version B increased conversions by 38%. The reason for this is because the additional sub-heading highlights key features of the product in bold lettering, which makes the features easier to see. Reading “let urgent e-mails cut through the clutter and find you instantly” is more compelling than “let us find your urgent messages.”

At the end of the day, of course, the more clear and direct you can make your copy, the more compelling it will be, no matter the length.

4) Form Length

The more friction that stands between users completing an action, the less likely they are to complete that action. Requiring unnecessary fields on a form is one of the quickest ways to reduce the number of conversions you get on your site.

You can also increase conversions by allowing users to check boxes instead of entering text, since this takes less effort.

For example, this B2B company boosted their number of leads by 368.5% just reducing the amount of text users had to enter and changing their button color on the form.

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version A

The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Version B


What works best on landing pages isn’t always obvious.

There are many competing factors that determine whether people convert or not. Simplicity matters (which you can get through short copy), but clarity matters, too (which might require longer copy).

Giving users the information they need about your business is important (i.e. through an explainer video), but it’s also important to reduce the number of options that are available on the page.

The best way, overall, to get better conversion rates is to figure out exactly what your audience wants, be as clear and compelling as possible, and then test it.

What are some interesting CRO test results that you’ve seen in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. 5 Ways to Track Your Revenue with Google Analytics Consider this: every 30 seconds, online businesses make just over $1.2 million: e-commerce in real time It’s a small reminder that there’s a massive amount of money to be made on the Internet. If you’re already receiving even a small piece of that 30-second money, congratulations. But once you start making money, something’s going to happen: you’ll start thinking about where your money is coming from and how you can get more of it. Then you begin calculating your ROI and you realize something: you don’t know exactly where your money is coming from. The truth of the matter is that ROI is a lot more complicated than most people make it out to be. That’s not to say that the average person can’t understand the basics of Google Analytics, but measuring marketing ROI is a lot more complicated. It’s determined by all the unique channels that drive traffic to what you’re selling. So how do you track your website’s revenue accurately? By asking better questions. Yes, you’re accruing money from your website, but why? (And if you’re not curious enough to ask “why?” then you’re not thinking like an entrepreneur.) Which part of your website is drawing the most attention? What part are people skipping over? Can you place a dollar amount on any random visitor who happens to come across your site? Once you start to ask these questions, your business will grow and you can start looking at your online presence through a more objective lens, which will allow you to:

In this post, we’ll go over the different methods for tracking your website’s revenue with Google Analytics.

1) Track Revenue from E-commerce Transactions

If you’re selling a product (whether physical or digital), you’ll want to track it and the best way to do that is through the use of custom code embedded in your shopping cart. This type of tracking will allow you to determine a few things:

In essence, you’ll discover which parts of your website are most effective for your sales funnel – and which ones aren’t doing you much good. You might find, for instance, that one of your landing pages is leading to a 20% conversion rate while another is underperforming at 5%, in which case you might want to reconsider how you built that landing page. Knowing the proper steps to building – and testing – a dynamite landing page can be transformational for your conversion rates. Learn more: 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should Be A/B Testing But before you can play with the data, you’ll first need to enable e-commerce analytics by logging into Google Analytics and switching the “E-Commerce set-up” radio button in the Main Website Profile Information from “Off” to “On.” How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics The next step is a little more complicated. You’ll need to add a customized tracking code to your shopping cart system that reports when and how purchases occurred. Depending on your hosting and shopping cart providers, this may be done through a server-side inclusion, a separate module through your content system, or through hand-coded HTML. For more details on how to finish this integration, check out Google’s E-commerce Tracking documentation.

2) Track Revenue from Non-E-commerce Sites

Now, suppose you don’t sell any products on your site, but instead use your page to generate leads for an offline business. In this case, every visitor to your site has a monetary value, although this isn’t determined by the number of sales that result from a traditional shopping cart system. Ideally, the revenue generated from the time and effort you invest into promoting your website should increase over time. To track whether or not this is the case, you’ll want to make use of “Goals” within Google Analytics. To do so, log into your Analytics account and navigate to “Conversions” > “Goals” where you’ll have the option of setting up new Goals. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics Although you have several different Goal types you can play around with, Event Goals (goals that aren’t tied to arrival on a specific site URL) make the most sense for tracking revenue from non-e-commerce sites, as they allow you to set a custom event value for each circumstance you define. On a basic level, your Goals will evaluate every visitor that comes to your site by using a simple equation. Take the amount of money you’ve made and divide it by how many new (unique) visitors have come to your site. That will tell you how much each new visitor is worth. But that’s just scratching the surface. If you want to truly understand your sales funnel, Goals can help you track much more specific data. For example, say you generate leads using a free white paper on your site. You’ve already determined that the average value of a visitor who contacts your company in this manner is worth $20. Now, you can set up an Event Goal accordingly. This lets you track how potential leads move through your site so you can optimize your site structure for maximum conversions.

3) Integrate Analytics with AdWords

Tying your Google Analytics account to your AdWords accounts can give you some very valuable information about the efficacy of your PPC campaigns, including which keywords result in conversions, what AdWords visitors do once they land on your site, and much more. Google AdWords Read more: 13 Quick Tricks to Increase Conversion Rates that You Can Do Right Now The best part is that setting up this integration is incredibly simple. If you use the same e-mail address to log into both your Analytics and AdWords accounts, all you have to do is open up your AdWords account, navigate to the “Reporting” tab, and click on “Google Analytics.” Select “I already have a Google Analytics account,” then choose the correct account profile from the list. In the next section, you’ll have the opportunity to select and deselect a number of checkboxes – including one that gives you the option of turning off auto-tagging. For most beginners, we recommend leaving auto-tagging on. This is an easy way to tie your keywords to your campaign links (otherwise you have to manually add tracking variables to every link in your account). You’ll also want to take the time to import your cost data from AdWords, as this will allow you to analyze the ROI of all conversions and sales on a per-keyword basis. To do this, follow these steps, as laid out by Google Support:

  1. Log in to your AdWords
  2. Select the Reporting tab and click ‘Google Analytics.’
  3. Click ‘Edit’ next to the profile that you would like to edit.
  4. Click ‘Edit’ in the upper right corner of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box.
  5. Check the ‘Apply Cost Data’ checkbox.
  6. Click on the ‘Save Changes’ button.

For those who are more visual, here’s a short how-to video:

4) Integrate Analytics with AdSense

As with the Google AdWords/Google Analytics integration described above, pairing Google’s website statistics manager with your AdSense account can result in several types of useful data, including the ability to view earnings based on user visits (rather than just page impressions). For instance, if you’re blogging (and you should be), this is a fantastic way to analyze the trends in your blogs to see what’s working for you. You can view:

Finding out this information allows you to open up channels for additional revenue or see what is actually helping your website to convert. And those are just some of the things you can discover. You’ll also be able to view click data based on user location, browser type, and referral source – all of which can help you refine your content-based ad monetization strategy. It can even help you discover which areas require growth. If, for example, you see that the majority of your web traffic comes from New York but the majority of your sales come from Los Angeles, you can rethink your strategy to compensate for a specific region. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics To connect your Analytics and AdSense accounts, look for a link inviting you to do so in the Overview or Advanced Reports pages of your AdSense account. If you aren’t yet eligible, keep checking back to take advantage of this feature in the future.

5) Use Google Analytics to Measure the ROI of Different Traffic Types

One final way you can use Google Analytics to track website ROI is to break out revenue stream by traffic type. Most webmasters advertise their sites in a number of different ways, including PPC ads, content marketing, social networking, forum marketing, etc. However, since it’s likely that not all of these activities result in the same ROI, it’s a good idea to break them apart to see which traffic source results in the most income. This will help you determine how to best allocate future promotional efforts. To do this, you’ll need to set up Advanced Traffic segments, which allow you to break out visitors based on referral sites to see which types of traffic are converting best for you. Start by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” tab under the “Standard Reporting” tab of your Google Dashboard. You’ll see that some default segments have been included, but you can also use the button in the lower right-hand corner to create your own segments based on specific sites or types of sites. How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics A few potential traffic segments you could create include:

Once these segments are set up, filter your Goal conversions by segment to compare which traffic streams are most profitable for your site.

Transforming Your Revenue Streams

If this is your first time attempting to track your revenue through Google Analytics, it might seem daunting. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just remember that these techniques can and will contribute to your bottom line:

Even if you aren’t actively tracking your website ROI, keep in mind that your competition sure as heck is. These tools are helping them acquire new clients that you could be getting! That’s why knowing how to properly measure revenue and conversion rates can help you stay ahead of the curve. Remember: online businesses make $1.2 million per 30 seconds, or about $3.5 billion per day. How much of that are you taking home? Need help tracking your revenue with Google Analytics? While other agencies love to talk about “ad spend,” at Single Grain we’re all about the ROI.  [sg_alert type=”success”]Get a free consultation right now to see how we can help grow your business![/sg_alert]

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

Heres How Targeting Cold Warm & Hot Traffic Builds Success RelationshipsVisitors. Traffic. Sessions.

It’s all the same, isn’t it? As long as potential customers visit your site, it hardly matters how you refer to them, right?

But here’s the catch: no two web visitors are alike.

Your traffic consists of people with different needs and knowledge levels of your brand or products. Heck, some of them might not even realize they have a problem that your product solves. Yet.

Therefore, to get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar, you need to launch campaigns that target all key traffic types: cold, warm, and hot traffic.

Instead of aiming just to sell, you should build relationships with people that are relevant to their stage of the buying cycle:

  1. Introduce your business to those at the early stages.
  2. Convert those who are deeper in the process into leads.
  3. And, finally, monetize those who are ready to buy.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to achieve.

And in this post, I’ll show you how to split your paid traffic between cold, warm, and hot visitors to achieve the greatest success.

But first …

Why You Should Not Go Straight for the Sale

You know, I think heading straight for the sale is the most common advertising mistake.

In my career in marketing so far, I have seen all kinds of businesses—from hotel chains to e-commerce stores and countless others in between—making this mistake.

They consider every visitor a potential sale, without any regard for the visitor’s current situation and need for information. Many of these companies don’t even optimize campaigns for any objective other than the sale.

But in reality, to build a solid strategy you need to target campaigns to different customers and their needs. You should use ads to slowly build relationships with them until they’re finally ready to buy. And to achieve this, you first need to learn about what types of audiences you need to target and how.

Learn More: The Turkish Rug Funnel (How A Rug Store Got Me To Shell Out A Few Thousand Dollars with ZERO Initial Interest)

Understanding Different Traffic Types

In marketing, we recognize three web traffic types:

Each of them has its distinct characteristics and offers different opportunities for converting into customers.

Note: if you work in sales, you might find these three traffic types similar to lead types that salespeople recognize: cold, warm, and hot leads. That is no coincidence. Both traffic and leads share similar characteristics and offer similar opportunities for conversion.

So let’s go through them in turn.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 rules for effective email marketing management that will convert your leads into sales! Click here to download it free.

1. Cold Traffic

Fact: not everyone clicking on your ads has heard of your brand before.

Many users click on your ads purely on the promise that you’ve made in the copy. Most likely they’ve searched for generic head or body keywords and are interested in learning more about the problem rather than available solutions.

Their decision to visit your site, therefore, wasn’t rooted in any prior knowledge or experience with your brand.

That’s cold traffic.

Cold traffic consists of people who have never heard of your business.

Think of them as casual browsers who are researching potential solutions or looking for information online. These people might have the problem your product or service aims to overcome, but since they know nothing about you, it’s highly unlikely that they would buy from you. As a result, they are the least likely to be susceptible to any sales message.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have no opportunities to convert them at a later date.

Marketing to these users gives you the ability to connect with them and start building a business relationship that might result in a sale at some point in the future.

You should target cold traffic to:

What content should you drive cold traffic to?

Since your goal is to establish a connection and introduce the brand, driving these visitors to a sales or landing page might only scare them away.

No worries, though, because there are plenty of other content types to which you could attract cold traffic, such as:

Success Template

Success Template

How do you “warm up” cold traffic?

Fact: it’s darn hard to sell to cold traffic.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t “warm them up” (i.e. convert) to become customers later.

The most effective way to warm up cold traffic is to attract those visitors to a page offering a lead magnet or any other free resource they perceive as valuable enough to submit their personal details in return for it.

Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)

Success Template

Success Template

Once you’ve got their e-mail address, send them relevant information, either as a drip campaign or traditional newsletter to offer value, build trust, and confirm your authority. This will allow you to nurture the person until they’re ready to become a client.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 rules for effective email marketing management that will convert your leads into sales! Click here to download it free.

2. Warm Traffic

Warm traffic consists of people who already know about you, your brand, products or services.

They may have visited your site before. They’ve read your content. They’ve followed you on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform.

Perhaps they’ve even signed up for your mailing list, downloaded a lead magnet or engaged with you in some other way.

But so far, they have indicated no interest in buying from you.

In spite of the fact that they like your content, site or offer, so far they haven’t purchased whatever it is that you’ve offered them.

Your goal, therefore, is to run ads that will encourage warm traffic to make a purchase.

To what content should you drive warm traffic?

As your goal is to convert someone who already knows who you are, you need to drive them to pages or assets that deliver value but also remind them of their interest in your product or services.

For example, someone signing up for a product demo or a free trial immediately indicates their interest in your product. Similarly, when someone downloads a highly technical white paper that deals with an advanced aspect of a problem that your product targets, this signals their desire to overcome it.

So you should drive warm traffic to such content types as:

For example, Infusionsoft runs AdWords ads to promote product demo videos that users can watch in order to learn how to generate leads with the company’s product:

Success Template

Veeam Software promotes a highly technical webinar:

Success Template

Jason O’Neil offers a free class for anyone wishing to learn how to sell products on Amazon:

Success Template

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 rules for effective email marketing management that will convert your leads into sales! Click here to download it free.

3. Hot Traffic

Finally, hot traffic is made up of people who have already bought something from you or trusted you with their business (and didn’t ask for their money back).

In other words, they know you, your products or services quite well. And there’s a good chance that they’ll buy more—they could purchase additional products, upgrade their service or send more projects your way.

And you can use PPC ads to follow up with them to see if they’re interested in doing more business with you.

Therefore, your goals for targeting hot traffic should be:

  1. To upsell – You should try to get them to buy from you again (and, ideally, to purchase a more expensive item or service than before).
  2. To re-engage with you – You should also aim to reactivate customers who haven’t bought from you for a long time and get them to do business with you again.

To what content should you drive hot traffic?

Remember, these people know you and most likely have bought from you already. Your goal, therefore, isn’t to convince them of your worth but rather remind them about your brand or products so they keep buying from you again.

Hot traffic is all about sales.

So when setting up PPC ads for this traffic, send them to:

When planning advertising campaigns to reactivate hot traffic, consider using retargeting to remind them of their previous interest in your brand.

For example, you could send retargeting traffic to pages that are relevant to the person’s prior interest in your products. If they viewed a specific product, send them to that page. If they added products to the cart, send them to the cart with their order, and so on.


Not all digital marketers understand the difference between cold, warm, and hot traffic and how to best target each group. If you’re unclear on this and sending traffic to the wrong landing page, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to build successful customer relationships! 

So remember, your traffic consists of people with different needs and knowledge levels of your brand or products, and to really make use of your advertising dollar, you must warm up your potential customers for better conversions.

What tips have you learned when it comes to marketing to cold, warm, and hot traffic? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google AnalyticsGoals matter – just ask any Brazilian soccer fan. Without concrete goals, you have no good way to track your progress or ensure that you’re achieving the things you’ve set out to accomplish. Instead, you just cross your fingers and spin your wheels on directionless projects.

And when it comes to measuring specific goals related to your website or Internet business, content may be king, but Google Analytics is Parliament. This incredibly feature-rich program is free to use and can provide you with a wealth of information on how visitors are interacting with your site. It’s a “must-have” for website owners who are serious about making decisions based on measurable data instead of ill-informed hunches.

There are other platforms available — Clicky, Piwik and Kissmetrics for example — but let’s not kid ourselves. Google is where it’s at, so it makes sense to go to Google for our website data. You don’t go to McDonald’s when you want a steak, right?

And while Google doesn’t release any official numbers for the service, industry watchdogs estimate that somewhere between 30-50 million websites use Analytics as of late 2015.

Google Analytics V5 was launched in March 2011, but was not made standard until much later. Universal Analytics was announced in October 2012, and is currently the only supported version of the tool. In addition to “regular” Analytics, Google introduced the Analytics 360 Suite for those enterprises that want a bit more horsepower.

To clear up any confusion and to help you incorporate this powerful analytics suite into your business strategies, we’ve put together the following guide on how to set up goals and funnels with Google Analytics.

Getting Started

I’m going to assume that you’ve already set up your website with your tracking code (check out this walkthrough if that sentence made you tilt your head and say “huh?”).

In order for Analytics to receive data, you need to add a unique tracking code to every page of your website HTML. You can find it on the Admin tab, in the Property column, under Tracking Info.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

If the thought of working with code makes you break out in a cold sweat, you can opt for an easier plugin implementation, like the very popular Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.

Either way, your tracker needs to be installed before you can start taking advantage of all that Analytics has to offer, goals or otherwise.

And while you’re at it, consider a few of these mistakes to avoid in setting yourself up. Analytics has been around long enough now that there are boatloads of tips, tricks, and best-practice advice. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the basics and the more advanced features to truly harness the power of the platform.

Learn More: How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics

The Enhanced Analytics Goals

One of the biggest changes rolled out in version 5 was the expanded “event” goal set, which enabled you to collect even more types of data about your visitors’ interactions with your site.

This feature is incredibly powerful, as it allows you to go beyond the simple metrics that Google Analytics tracked before the update (including time on site, number of pageviews, and URL destination visits) to really get a feel for how your visitors are engaging with your site. Since then, the tool has continued to evolve, with new functionality being introduced on a fairly regular basis. The Analytics feature set is so rich that many users don’t fully comprehend everything it can do for them.

With the addition of event goals in 2011, the total number of goal types within Google Analytics now stands at four:

Templates, Custom, and Smart Goals

Goal types are organized into either Template (pre-filled configuration), Custom set-ups, or Smart Goals. The goal type that’s right for you will depend on the needs of your particular business model.

A blogger, for example, is more likely to be interested in average time on site or pages per visit than an e-commerce seller, for whom a primary metric might be destination goals that track completed sales when visitors reach a designated “Thank You” or order confirmation page.

Templates will only be provided if you’ve assigned your property an Industry Category. You can find that drop-down menu on the Admin tab, in the Property column, under Property Settings.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

No category, no goal templates (and those offered to you will change depending on which industry category you select). Template goals are arranged into four categories: revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement. If you can create at least one goal in each category, you’ll get a well-rounded snapshot of your visitors and how they’re engaging with your website, product, and content.  

Once your category is assigned (don’t forget to save after making that change!), you’ll be able to chose either template or custom on the goals dashboard.   

For many users, Smart Goals will not be available. To use them, you must first meet a few prerequisites:

  1. Your AdWords and Analytics accounts must be linked.
  2. Your AdWords account must have sent at least 500 clicks to your Analytics property (your website) in the past 30 days.
  3. Your property must have fewer than 10 million sessions in the past month.
  4. You must activate Data Sharing (found under Admin > Account > Account Settings > Google products and services must be checked) for your website

Those requirements will exclude many sites, so we’re going to skip them for now. You can find out more about Smart Goals on your own should you feel analytically ambitious.

Setting Up a Goal

Now we get to the nitty-gritty. To set up a goal for your website within Google Analytics, log in to your dashboard, then click on the Admin tab in the upper left-hand corner. This is the administration section of your website’s profile, and it allows you to create goals (found in the View column) among a slew of other tasks:

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Click on Goals, and you’re whisked away to the goals dashboard. From here, you’ll see that you’re able to use up to 20 specific goals (the number remaining appears at the bottom left of your goal list) for each property. You can opt to create a new goal, or import an existing one from the woefully underappreciated Analytics Solutions Gallery.   

Either way, choose them carefully, as you will not be able to delete these later on (although you can deactivate and rename them once you’re finished with a particular goal). You’re limited to 20 goals per View. That’s it. No more.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Import from Gallery

Click the Import from Gallery button, and you’ll get a pop-up window of the Solutions Gallery.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

You can use the filters along the left, or the search field at the top left, to find whatever kind of goal you’re in the mood for. Notice that it’s already limited to Goals, there’s an Import button below each result, and you can opt to go directly to the Gallery website if you’d prefer not to work in the window (it’ll open in another tab).

The Solutions Gallery is well worth a visit. Besides user-submitted goals, you can find custom reports, dashboards, and segments, too — everything you need to make Analytics your go-to data destination.  

+New Goal

To create a goal yourself, click on the red “+New Goal” button. This will launch the goal selection screen where you’ll be able to pick either Template (as long as you’ve designated an industry) or Custom:

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Make your selection (setting up your own goal is easy if you don’t see any template for what you want to do, so don’t fear the Custom option!), and hit Continue.

Under Step 2, you’ll be asked to give your goal a name and choose the specific type of goal you’d like to create.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Not sure which one to choose? Let’s take a closer look at each type…

1) Destination

Destination goals are wonderful for tracking conversions if a particular action (purchase, download, sign-up) results in a visitor arriving at a particular page, like order confirmation or a “thank you” page.

In the web page URL field, you only need to input the extension — such as /thankyou.html — and not your entire web address (www.yourwebsite.com/thankyou.html, for example).

And if you’re not sure what the destination URL is, you can quickly find out by performing the conversion yourself: go to your website, fill in the form (or download the infographic, or send a note, or whatever), and make note of the URL of the page after you complete the action. That’s your destination goal URL.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Enter the URL of your designated conversion page in the appropriate field. A destination page can be:

If you know how much a goal conversion of this type is worth to you, turn on and enter it into the Value field (for example, if you know a “thank you” page visit occurs only after a $10 report has been purchased, enter “10” as the value).

The default currency is U.S. dollars, but you can change this under Admin > View > View Settings > Currency Displayed As. And if you want to track transactions for an e-commerce site, you’d be better off installing and using the Enhanced E-commerce plugin, and leaving this blank (but that’s a subject for another day).  

A Word on Funnels

If your final destination URL is part of a larger funnel — as in the case of one-time offers, upgrades, and other multi-step sales processes — turn on the Funnel option and enter the URLs of each step in the sales path. You can add up to ten.

A funnel in Analytics must be attached to a goal. For example, to get to the “Thank You” page indicated as the destination goal, your customers might have to travel from a landing page to a sign-up page before arriving at the destination page. You would enter the first two steps into the funnel fields.  

Funnels should be used if visitors must follow a specific path to reach a destination that you want to track (be sure and turn on the Required? button). They can help identify leaks (pages within the funnel where visitors are bailing without completing it) so you can hypothesize and test ways to stop those leaks and stay afloat.

There’s a great funnel report with data for each step available under Reporting > Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization.  

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Finally, verify the goal and click save.

2) Duration

If your goal is simply to measure and increase the length of time visitors remain on your site (their engagement with it), select the “Duration” option.

Enter the specific amount of time on site — either by hours, minutes, or seconds — that you’ve set as your goal, then click “Save.” The goal will be recorded as complete only after someone hits the indicated duration.

Working to increase the session duration of your visitors (and lower the bounce rate) can have an indirect influence on your SEO. Upgrade your content, improve site navigation, make it more visually appealing, and offer more than what you’re offering now.

Again, if you happen to know or have a value, enter it in the appropriate field, although it’s much harder to place a numerical value for time spent on site. What is five minutes worth to you? Is ten minutes worth double that?  

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Related Content: 10 Ways to Measure Social Media Engagement (Plus 7 Tools to Track It!)

3) Pages/Screens per Session

Another good indicator of overall engagement is pages/screens per session. Using internal links and other calls to action to encourage visitors to move amongst the pages on your site is a good way to get people to engage with your brand and learn more about your company.

To set this as a defined goal, select the “Pages/Screens per session” option and indicate how many pages will trigger a goal completion.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Take a look at your existing stats and set a goal that’s one or two pages higher than your existing average pages per visit. You can find your current statistic under Reporting > Audience > Overview (you can also see your average session duration here, too).

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Another good stat to build out from is your Page Depth, found under Audience > Behaviour > Engagement, and then select Page Depth on the report itself. This will show you exactly how many sessions looked at one page, two pages, three pages, and so on. The more sessions with higher page depth, the more your site is resonating with visitors.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

As you make changes designed to encourage longer site visits — in both duration and pages per session — and start meeting your goals, come back and increase the amounts as needed. Always be working towards longer visits and more pages per session to truly connect and captivate your audience.

4) Events

Setting up an event goal in Google Analytics is a little more complicated, as there are several variables that can be used depending on what you want to track. An event is an action that happens independent of a page load, so you can’t use a destination as a trigger.

Counting the number of times a video is played will require different tracking parameters than will be needed to count the number of times your pages are shared on Facebook, or how often something is added to a cart.

Related Content: Complete Guide to YouTube Analytics

When you click the “Events” option in Analytics, you’ll see the following screen:

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

To understand what each of these fields means — as well as how to use them to set up event goals on your site — check out Google’s complete Event Tracking Guide. Be aware that some of the information gets a little technical, and that you may need to append links or other elements of your site with pieces of code for the tracking to work properly. This goal requires a lot more than the first three types.

Each event goal is comprised of four parts:

  1. Category – the object interacted with (such as a video or pdf document). This is a required text field. You’ll likely end up using a category label many times.
  2. Action – the type of interaction (such as play, download, stop, or share). This is a required text field.
  3. Label – used to categorize and organize events (such as “Product X Launch” or “Spring Campaign” or the name of a particular file, video, or document). This is an optional text field.
  4. Value – an optional numerical value assigned to the event.

Only the first two are necessary for a goal to trigger, but it’s worthwhile to include them all to get the most accurate, detailed reports possible.

The Value field does not necessarily have to be a monetary amount, and you can opt to either input the goal value from the event value, or to enter a separate dollar value by selecting “No.”

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

If this all sounds too complicated, consider hiring a web developer (shameless plug: Single Grain!) to set up event goals on your website for you. You’ll incur a small fee to have this feature added, but the incredible amount of invaluable information that these goals can generate for you far outweighs the set-up cost.

You can find a complete list of your created and imported goals on the Admin > View > Goals page. You’ll see the goal name, its ID, the number of successful conversions in the past week, and how many goal slots you have left for a given Property.

You’ll also notice a “Recording” on/off switch for each goal where you can pause it and stop receiving data (if it stops being relevant data for you to collect).  

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

Once you have a few goals set up and doing their thing, you’ll receive data every time a conversion happens and the goal is triggered. You’ll be able to analyze and evaluate them under Reporting > Conversions > Goals on the Analytics dashboard.

How to Set Up Goals and Funnels with Google Analytics

You’ll see stats on the number of goal completions, your goal conversion rate (number of goal completions / number of visitors x 100), goal value (assuming you assigned one somewhere along the way), and total abandonment rate on the Overview dashboard (for either all goals combined, or individual goals, and you can change it with the drop-down menu directly on the report itself).

Other reports are available on goal URLs, reverse goal paths, funnel visualization, and goal flow.   


Traffic is good. Setting up and measuring conversion goals is better.

Conversion goals should be a part of any complete Google Analytics strategy and plan, as they track and monitor some of your most important KPIs. Take the time to create a few goals if you haven’t done so already, and read up on the the how and why of Analytics. It’s a powerful but still underutilized tool to help your business grow, connect, and succeed.

Now that you know how to set up goals and funnels with Google Analytics, you’re ready for a successful 2017!

Paid Content Promotion: A Comparison Of The Different Platforms

This post, written by Pawel Grabowski, originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

I’m sure you’ll agree: Getting prospects to notice your content is one heck of a task.

Between the sheer amount of content published each day and our dwindling attention spans, it’s no easy task to grab and hold your target audience’s attention. 

As a result, you spend countless hours tweeting about it with with fingers crossed, hoping that someone will notice your awesome content, share it with their social network, and make it go viral.

Or you could try an easier way to ensure that your content reaches the right audience:

Paid content promotion.

A lot of advertising platforms allow you to promote your content to a highly specific audience, attract qualified traffic and leads, and grow your customer base. The downside? You have to pay for it, of course. Luckily, many of them aren’t expensive, especially if you consider the ROI they can generate.

If you’ve been afraid to start promoting content with paid ads or even wondered how they work, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, I’ll give you an overview of the 7 most popular paid content promotion platforms.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of insanely actionable steps to launching Instagram ads – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

#1. Facebook Advertising

According to Social Media Examiner, Facebook is the most popular paid content promotion platform among marketers: 84% of B2B marketers use it to regularly drive traffic to their content. (Hardly surprising, right?)

Paid content promotion

(Image source)

And according to AdWeek, we spend around 28% of our time online on social networking:

Paid content promotion

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Statista reports that consuming content is one of the primary activities on Facebook:

Paid content promotion

(Image source)

Facebook also attracts both B2C and B2B audience, making it a viable promotion channel for practically any business.

So regardless of whether you target customers or brands, you have a big chance of attracting them to your content.

Facebook offers many opportunities to promote content via its Advertising Platform, and Page Post Link ads can help you drive more traffic to your content. These ads typically show in the Newsfeed (also on mobile) and clicking on this ad takes a user directly to a website.

paid content promotion

(Image source)

Page Post Link ads include a big image which makes it perfect to help catch your ADHD-prone audience’s attention. What’s more, Facebook allows you to A/B test all elements of the ad to come up with the most converting creative.

Learn More: Facebook Lead Ads: Everything You Need to Know to Increase Mobile Conversions


When setting up your ad, you can target users by:

You can also display your ad to current customers or subscribers by including them in a Custom Audience based on e-mails, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs.

Lastly, you can also use Lookalike Audiences to target people similar to your clients, leads or fans.


Facebook Advertising is a bidding platform, meaning that you can specify how much you’re willing to pay for a campaign.

On Facebook, you can bid on Cost Per Click, Impressions, Cost Per Action/Conversion and Cost Per Like, and the final price is affected by:

Next Steps

#2. AdWords

I know, it makes no sense at all, does it?

AdWords is an ideal platform to attract new customers or leads, but not to promote content, right? And yet…

The aforementioned Social Media Examiner report states that 41% of social marketers use AdWords to promote content regularly, making it the second most popular paid content promotion strategy.

Paid Content Promotion

And according to the latest Content Marketing Institute B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report, search engine marketing is the most popular paid content strategy among marketers.

Paid Content Promotion

Of the survey participants, 66% admitted to using the Google’s advertising platform to promote their content.

What’s more, 55% consider AdWords the most effective paid promotion strategy.

How is that possible?

You see, AdWords is a versatile yet extremely simple platform to use. Creating an ad takes no more than a couple of minutes, and Google starts displaying it to anyone looking for keywords that you specified practically right away.

Also, the AdWords platform offers extensive research tools which allows you to really make sure that your content reaches the right audience at the right time.

And finally, data you collect in AdWords lets you improve your audience targeting and create much better content in the future.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of  insanely actionable steps to launching Instagram ads – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.


Google AdWords targets keywords that people actually use to search for information. So when you choose words or phrases that are relevant to your content, your ads appear to those people.

On top of that, you can also target users by location, language, and device they’re using. Also, by using remarketing, you can target people who have visited your site before.

Paid Content Promotion

(Example of an AdWords ad promoting content.)


AdWords is an auction-based system in which you specify how much you’re willing to pay for each click on your ad for a specific keyword.

Next Steps

#3. LinkedIn

Social Media Examiner reports that LinkedIn is the 3rd most popular paid content promotion strategy among marketers, with 18% of them effectively using it to distribute content.

Paid Content Promotion

And InsideView states that LinkedIn delivers more leads to B2B companies than any other social networking site or a company’s blog.

LinkedIn offers 3 options to promote your content:

1. Sponsored Updates – a native advertising model in which you display content as a sponsored update in a person’s news feed.  

Paid Content Promotion

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2. Text and Image Ads – allows you to place ads in prominent places across LinkedIn’s website.

Paid Content Promotion3. Sponsored InMail – lets you use LinkedIn InMail to message targeted audience segments about your content.

Paid Content Promotion

(Image source)


The power of LinkedIn ads lies in their ability to target people not just by their demographics (age, gender, location, etc.), but also by such factors as a job title, employer, industry, company name, company size, skills, LinkedIn Groups they’re members of, and even interests.

Paid Content Promotion

(Image source)


LinkedIn offers two basic pricing models:

Next Steps

#4. Twitter

I agree: You rarely think of Twitter as a paid content promotion platform.

After all, you already use it to promote your content for free (by sharing every article you write on this platform), and you probably use software like CoSchedule or Buffer to tweet about archived content.

You might even reach out to influencers to help you spread the word on your posts.

But I bet you never considered paying to promote your content on Twitter.

Consider this:

Twitter Ads offers an option to publish Promoted Tweets that are nothing but ads disguised as tweets that appear in a person’s timeline. In most cases, the only difference between normal and promoted tweets is a little “Promoted” label in the bottom left corner.

Learn More: Do Twitter Ads Really Work? (And How to Get The Most Out of Them!)

paid content promotion


Twitter offers advanced targeting options to ensure that your content reaches a highly-qualified audience.

For example: on Twitter, you can target users based on their interests, accounts they follow or keywords and user behavior.


Like most platforms I discuss in this post, Twitter Ads is an auction based system.

However, unlike AdWords, for instance, on Twitter you’re not bidding on keywords but rather specific actions that you want the person to complete.

You can choose from such actions as clicks, acquire new followers, engagement, app installs, leads or video views.

Next Steps

#5. Outbrain

I bet this happens to you all the time: You discover an interesting article, and just when you get to the end of it, you notice a link to another one.

And then another one.

And another one….

And before you know it, you’ve spent an hour consuming countless pieces of content.

The next platform I’m discussing here makes it possible to promote content by targeting this very behavior.

Outbrain is a service that allows you to target that very behavior and promote your post on other pieces of content in order to attract readers from other websites.

The platform displays a widget with a list of recommended articles below every post on the sites that use it. Here’s a screenshot showing the widget in an article in the Time Magazine:

Paid Content Promotion


Just like the other paid content promotion platforms, Outbrain works on a Cost Per Click basis, meaning that you pay only for the visitors who go to the page that you’re promoting.

Next Steps

Note: Outbrain is just one of many content discovery networks. Other, similar platforms include:

#6. Reddit Ads

Fact: Reddit is the front page of the web.

Just last month alone, the site received 231,625,384 unique visitors (subject to change, as you can see), viewing 8,194,956,819 pages and casting 29,170,122 votes.

Impressive, huh?

What’s more, the site offers incredible opportunities to promote your content.

Reddit is made up of “subreddits”, which are categories that users create to discuss related topics. You can submit content directly to a relevant subreddit or use Reddit Ads to ensure that a specific audience will notice it.


Reddit allows you to target users by their interests, specific subreddit they subscribe to, location, or display your ad to all of Reddit, without any particular targeting.

Paid Content Promotion

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Reddit charges for impressions (CPM), which means that you pay a flat fee for every 1,000 ad impressions.

Here are the rates as per Reddit’s FAQ page:

Next Steps

#7. BuySellAds

I agree: It probably wouldn’t make sense to use banner ads to promote every piece of content.

But if you’ve published a report, long-form guide, e-book or other lead magnet, banners might be a way to attract a new audience to them.

BuySellAds is a platform that connects publishers with publishers and allows them to buy and place banner ads on the sites.

On BuySellAds, you can purchase banner ad space, publish sponsored content, and buy individual ad spaces on thousands of sites.

Paid Content Promotion


BuySellAds organizes publishers by categories and topics, so you can find websites with the audience you’re trying to reach:

Paid Content Promotion

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Along with the basic information about the site, BSA also displays the most recent audience stats like monthly impressions and Twitter following:

Paid Content Promotion

(Image source)

Information about ad placements and types is available on the site along with prices:

Paid Content Promotion


Price per ad placement is determined by each site and can range from as little as $10 and as much as hundreds of dollars, depending on the site’s popularity and audience engagement.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of  insanely actionable steps to launching Instagram ads – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Final Word

With so much new content published every day, getting your target audience to notice your content is one heck of a task. One way to achieve this goal is to always promote it via owned and earned media.

Or you could use paid ads to attract more targeted visitors to your site.

Now that you understand what the different paid content promotion platforms are and the pros and cons of each one, you’ll have a much easier time getting potential prospects to notice your content!

How To Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP)

This is a guest post by Stevie Duffin-Lutgen, Marketing Analyst at Mobovida, a customer-driven, vertically integrated mobile accessory brand delivering fashion forward products direct to consumer. Check out our recent podcast interview with Edwin Choi, VP of Marketing at Mobovida.

If you’ve given up on display advertising as a source of profitable revenue, you’re not alone!

My predecessors in digital marketing at the heavily ROI-driven Mobovida didn’t have much success converting upper funnel banner clicks, instead wielding display for remarketing purposes only.

Mobovida owns CellularOutfitter, the largest online retailer of cell phone accessories. We sell a plethora of mobile accessories for just about every phone model, and wanted to know how we could revisit converting the cold display customer to reach a broader audience.

So when we heard that AdWords was going to start serving clicks on Gmail via Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP), we knew we had to jump on the opportunity. And I encourage anyone reading this to do the same!

Not only did the channel prove to be a valuable source of sales, but it allows the company to quickly test its Mobovida product line against fresh audiences. The data provided via quick-to-launch channels such as Gmail Ads has been invaluable for powering Mobovida’s agile product development model.

Although the channel started off losing $14 per $1 spent, we were able to methodically reach our tipping point ROAS (Return on Ad-Spend) of $2 per $1 after 13 rounds of testing.

“Why Should I?”

Glad you asked!

If low-quality display clicks have ever given you nightmares, rest assured – surgically targeted Gmail ads with effective creative are not quite the same animal.

When Internet surfers are perusing their inboxes and see a banner for a Galaxy S7 Edge phone case (one of our top-selling categories), there’s always the possibility that they’re more annoyed with the banner interrupting their experience than they are interested in the offer (even if they actually need a case).

But GSP mobile ads are served up in the often retail-laden “Promotions” folder of Gmail user inboxes:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

My drip e-mails from Nordstrom, ModCloth (can you guess my demographic?) and my other favorite shops are already in this folder, so when I access it I’m in a curious, if not full-on shopping, mood.

How to Make Profitable Gmail Ads

My job is to drive sustainable revenue at a 3:1 ROI target by harnessing Internet traffic. So when my team suggested working with Gmail ads – a branch of the Google Display pipe dream – I knew it was going to be a challenge.

But with some permission to adjust my ROI targets and experiment with a sizeable test budget, in one month I took our Gmail ad campaigns from 0-30% ROAS up to 3200%:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Here’s how it got done, in this order.

Free Bonus Download: Get a checklist of 15 tips to increase the numbers in your funnel – actionable info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

We Explored Gmail Targeting and Played to Our Strengths

Display advertising is only as good as its targets, and one place where we struck gold in 2015 was Facebook, largely thanks to sweat equity and – you guessed it – rapidly testing endless permutations of targeting and creative.

Since Facebook ads are not triggered by search queries, we were alarmed at our ability to grow and scale the account after hammering out the right ad-demo-target formula, and truth be told it exhibited some game-changing potential:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

I needed somewhere to start in Gmail and using my team’s experience in conquering Facebook was integral. I knew which products were converting for which demos and on which devices, which was a huge advantage! If you don’t have the luxury of previous team experience, consult your Google Analytics Audience -> Demographics tab for an expanded date range and look at your top contributing genders and age groups.

So I consulted some historical analytics and confirmed that older women using specific phone models converted best on our site. Thanks to Gmail campaign-level phone model targeting and ad group demo levers, I was able to carve out a solid beginning baseline upon which to test the various GSP ad types.

Learn More: The Complete Guide to Gmail Ads (How We Got $.10 CPCs & Leads As Low As $7) 

We Experimented with All Gmail Ad Types

So I got my initial targets down; the stage was set. Then I was confronted with the myriad Gmail ad options laid out in the AdWords Gmail ad gallery:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

The question was: Which to choose?

The answer? Choose them all as there is no right or wrong option.

Every ad type is going to start in the same way: a “collapsed” format at the top of your audience’s inbox. It’s going to have an e-mail subject line and description that must spawn an initial, curious click. Once clicked, your ad will be revealed in the “expanded” format, but wait! – you’ve already been charged.

A challenge for us was finding the ad type/copy/creative combo that drove enough interaction on the first, charged click, and also resulted in click-throughs to the website. You can monitor this metric in Columns -> Gmail Metrics -> Gmail Clicks to Website in AdWords for a more accurate picture of CTR and conversion rate.

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Thanks to our vast, SKU-level analytics data, I was able to break each phone model down by its top products, so I knew which items I wanted to serve on each phone model’s campaign.

A good example is screen protectors for the Galaxy S5 campaign: we know that our S5 users love screen protectors and especially tempered glass, so we started with simple single promotion ads:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

We experimented with similar visuals and language across the available ad types, but the return was not there. We spent over $600 to make $35 on the ad pictured above, so something wasn’t working.

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

We Tested Our Copy and Our Offering

I didn’t know what was wrong, but my hypothesis was that our current aggressive ad types might’ve been too abrasive for Gmail users, who are opening what looks like an e-mail.

While there’s no true A/B tool available within AdWords for display at the moment, I had to test a different ad vibe. I created a toned-down version of my sales pitch and tried for straightforward instead of sensational. However, I still didn’t see the return I wanted with screen protectors no matter the ad type or my copy.

Here’s when a search marketer bangs their head against the wall and cries out, “I am done with display!” But I’m lucky – I have a lot of products to test, and I was determined to test them until something worked. So I switched to phone cases.

My original poster boy for phone model-targeted campaign success was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

I started with a toned-down version of our single promotion ads to test the waters, paired with a top selling Note 4 case:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

And all of a sudden I was breaking even – I spent $375 and made $377, but that pesky “Ad Copy CTR” was driving my costs up significantly.

Is it possible as a PPC marketer to see a 25, 35, 45% CTR and see red?

In Gmail it is.

Earlier, I warned against the dangers of the collapsed versus expanded GSP ad formats, because advertisers are charged on the first click. That first click opens the e-mail ad in all its full, expanded glory – it doesn’t give you an URL pointing to your website. Consequently, Gmail ads are technically charged per impression.

And our flashy, monster-percent-off e-mail ad subject lines were attracting way too much attention. I needed to reduce junk or purely curious clicks significantly. I brainstormed with another member of my team and it was clear that we needed to heavily qualify every incoming click.

As a possible solution, we tested product price in the e-mail subject line:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Our Ad Copy CTR was still hovering above 30%, and volume was building, but we were still breaking even.

Free Bonus Download: Get a checklist of 15 tips to increase the numbers in your funnel – actionable info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

We Tried to Control AdWords with Target CPA Bidding

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m only willing to pay so much for a customer. I don’t want to pay for tons of clicks from accidental swipes or rubberneckers.

So when my tragically effective subject lines were burning holes in the company’s pocket, my co-manager suggested I turn on target CPA bidding at a realistic level, just to give it a whirl. If I could not sacrifice good old-fashioned compelling copy for lower costs, AdWords needed to give me predictably higher-quality clicks based on its learnings from my unprofitable, proliferating conversions.

Our costs went down overall, but so did our impressions and conversions, perhaps from a lack of sufficient conversions learnings since our volume-per-campaign was still low on average.

From inception, we’d seen a pretty steady 5% average conversion rate, and target CPA results did show conversion rate lift (scroll down to see charts), but since our impressions were down to boot, our Gmail Clicks to Website metric was looking especially anemic.

The next thought was: could I turn manual CPC bidding back on for low conversion campaigns, create highly compelling expanded ad copy, and increase ROI by getting visitors through my ad and letting the PDP landing page do the rest of the work?

We Tested Expanded Ad Copy

How do you qualify a customer? You tell them what to expect.

We’d been doing that with our subject line copy by discussing price, but we’d been repeating it inside the expanded ad as well. Could it be that seeing price again was discouraging? Does our audience not want to see dollar signs? Do they want more information than we’re giving them and we’re wasting the expanded headline space with fear-inducing redundancy?

I decided that it could certainly be one or many of those things, so we tested a new ad format – what came to be called the “WasNow2b” format, in which we still list the “Was $X, Now $Y” in the subject line, but add fear- or doubt-reducing value propositions in the expanded ad:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

We started to see days of high return interspersed with those of low return, with the Gmail Clicks to Website metric increasing.

This wasn’t too surprising (gaining some traction only to hit shaky ground) because admittedly, our mobile experience isn’t the most flawless, and we’re driving pure mobile traffic from these Gmail ads.

On our site, landing on a PDP can be a damning experience for the older demographic, since navigating to our many other products or categories can be cumbersome. And our site visitors like to see options, especially in a wealth of colors.

I bolstered our concerns using Hotjar visitor recordings, and witnessed many Gmail visitors landing on the PDP we provided, only to scroll around the site in what looked like a baffled mess.

We hypothesized that if we offered more case color options in our Note 4 ads, we might see lift.

We Experimented with Gmail Ad Types…Again

The Gmail Catalog Ad is the Single Promotion Ad’s more versatile sibling. Their formats are comparable: both have a top image, headline, and description available in the expanded format, but the Catalog ad allows for more items to be featured beneath the main product image. If our Single Promotion ads had been gaining traction, my learnings would’ve been derived from not only their targeting successes and failures, but those of their formatting.

So – plain and simple – I chose to experiment with the Catalog ads to mitigate the strain of variability:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

After running the Note 4 Catalog ads, we were closer to our 3:1 ROI target than ever before:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Read More: Are You Exploiting YouTube’s Cheap Advertising Platform Yet? 

We Documented Everything

The good scientist keeps a thorough lab notebook, and so should you.

Maintaining strict documentation of our ad copy, targets, and results was paramount to success in Gmail, even though it took time to develop the format that worked for us (and it’s still evolving!). We tracked progress in a Google doc with tabs for new ad buildouts:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

…and our results. Our “Results” tab listed the testing round, campaign, ad group, ad name, a link or screenshot to ad creative, KPI data per ad, and, most importantly, a column for hypotheses derived from the round and a column for next moves.

For each round, we paid special attention to the average conversion rate and average “true” CTR. Note that “true” CTR is not collapsed ad clicks divided by impressions, but expanded ad clicks – Gmail Clicks to Website – over collapsed ad, or subject line, clicks.

To see how this worked, take a look at the evolution of our conversion rates and true CTRs over the course of four rounds involving pivotal changes:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Across the first and second rounds in this series, we were funneling in target CPA bids across campaigns with relatively higher conversion counts, and still mostly using a mix of single promotion ads. You can see lift in conversion rate on average, but true CTR decreased.

From the second to third rounds, we’d begun to test more and more catalog ads, which boosted our true CTR as predicted, but did not result in a lift in our average conversion rates.

Moving into the fourth round, we’d scaled the use of our fear-reducing expanded ad copy across all campaigns and introduced target CPA bidding to campaigns with 20 or more conversions. This combination was powerful, illustrated by the jump in both true CTR and conversion rate.

None of our progress would have been possible without this weekly ritual of recording KPIs for each ad, followed by synthesizing new hypotheses.

Free Bonus Download: Get a checklist of 15 tips to increase the numbers in your funnel – actionable info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

We Continuously Refined

As the conversions rolled in, I gradually migrated campaigns from Manual CPC to Target CPA, at about $2 above that campaign’s average CPA. This approach, combined with our winning ad and copy formats, was enough to garner sales, but there was more that could be done at the ad group level since I can control who sees my ads at the level of gender, age and parental status.

Over time we’d see trends evolve – like 35-year-old women who love to click a particular ad in a particular campaign, but rarely convert. To save on costs, I removed those demo groups. You can do this by clicking on your campaign in AdWords, navigating to the Display Network tab, selecting Age, Gender or Parental Status, and hitting the “enabled” button on your demo group:

How to Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions

The Takeaway? Gmail Ads Are Worth It!

Narrowing in on winning demo groups while diversifying our offerings in creative refreshes has become more important moving forward, since we’ve noticed that hitting one demo with one phone model with the same ad for more than two months slows impressions and exhausts sales. But if you’re willing to venture into the unknown with display ads, Gmail is a potentially lucrative (and far less painful!) place to start when compared with the broader display network.

Play to your strengths, rigorously control your testing and documentation of both the collapsed and expanded ads and targeting, mine your efforts for learnings from your analytics platforms, and fine-tune your targets using the Display Network tab in AdWords. You may find yourself with a new Google revenue channel, and no keyword bids are necessary!

Have you tried Gmail Ads? What’s been your experience, good or bad? Let us know in the comments below!

Check out another great Gmail Ads post right here on the Growth Everywhere blog.

The Quick & Practical Guide To Google Tag Manager

Analytics and tagging aren’t the sexiest topics to entrepreneurs and marketers because they want to be working on things that have the highest impact on driving the needle.

But not implementing the proper tagging and tracking solutions leads to an overall slowdown in your marketing operations.

Not implementing a tool like Google Tag Manager is like letting debt snowball. In the technology world, people like to use the word technical debt. In this case, we can call it analytics debt.

First, we need to define what Google Tag Manger is. At a very high level, it helps marketers decrease the need to reach out to your engineers or IT team to add/remove/modify tracking codes on your website.

This means there’s no need to ask for:

Basically, you’re no longer at the mercy of your developers/IT team and they’ll be a lot happier knowing that everything is safe in one place. As marketers, speed is everything—this means testing new tools and vendors in days rather than weeks.

For those visual learners like myself, here’s a quick introductory video:

Other key benefits:

Here’s how to get started with Google Tag Manager:

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Tags?

Google Tags make it easy to add conversion tracking, analytics, remarketing tags, and more. These are small snippets of code that can be Google Analytics/AdWords tags or non-Google tags (such as Facebook pixels).

Here’s an example of a tag we use to track who is clicking on our ‘Services’ page for our digital marketing agency:

Google Tag Manager

A few key points on what’s happening here.

The naming convention:

How To Set Up A Tag

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

This is a very simple implementation of a tag. You can certainly add complexities down the line for whatever you are trying to do.

Watch this video to get started with tags:

What Are Triggers?

Triggers will determine whether a tag is fired or not fired. More simply put, these are ‘rules’. Here’s what one of our triggers looks like:

Google Tag Manager

For Triggers, there’s the option of selecting different events. In our case, we chose to look for people who are clicking on specific text (‘Content Marketing‘).

How To Set Up A Trigger

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Events?

An event is an action. For example, if someone clicks on your phone number, you can tag that as an event and have it fire in Google Analytics. By doing this, you’ll be able to consistently measure actions that you deem important.

How To Set Up An Event:

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Macros?

As you continue to add to GTM, you’ll be adding repetitive tasks. What if you had the ability to create shortcuts for these tasks? That’s what macros are.

Here’s a video explanation:

What Are Some Practical Use Cases for GTM?

Where To Go From Here?

For more in-depth training on setting up Google Tag Manager, I highly recommend watching videos from GTM Training on YouTube.

In terms of practical use cases, here are some:

Here are some of my favorite videos from GTM Training:

Bonus: Google Tag Assistant

Google has a browser extension called Google Tag Assistant that allows users to see specific tags that are on each page. This helps with testing/implementation.

Bonus: iPullRank’s Complete Guide to Google Tag Manager


At the end of the day, Google Tag Manager is not only helpful for organizing all your tags; it opens up the possibilities for doing more with your web applications and speeds up your site by consolidating all the snippets that you had lying around before.

Give it a shot and let us know in the comments below what you think!


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GB 104 - How To Find Your Competitors' Ads

Today I’m going over two different tools that will help you find your competitors’ display ads quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a tool that will show you Facebook ads, but seeing what Google display ads work well for your competitors can give you really great insight and inspiration.

[spoiler title=’Transcript’ collapse_link=’true’]

I’m going to tell you about two tools that can help you find your competitors advertising or display ads quickly. Unfortunately, to this day I don’t know if anything that can or maybe I haven’t tested the tools thoroughly enough but, talent at Facebook ads does it now but, hey, look in Google ads and seeing your competitors, what’s been working well for them and really, it will help give you some ideas.

The first tool is called SimilarWeb and it’s one of my favorite tools right now. Not only will it help you find display ads but it will find similar websites, hands the name of similar web to your competitors, it will give you traffic breakdown in terms of how much traffic are they getting from search, display, whatever it is exactly – a traffic estimate which is probably off more often than not, but, it gives you a lot of valuable information that you otherwise couldn’t have really figured out on your own, at least it that quick span of time. So, SimilarWeb is a great one.

Another one is called Mixrank, it’s great for finding, doing more of the competitive analysis part. SimilarWeb has a little more features to it. Actually, I changed my mind, instead of two, there’s actually three. There’s also another tool called What Runs Where and this will all be in the show notes but, What Runs Where is basically what is says. It’s going to help you find what runs where.

So check out these three tools, if you’re looking for some ideas and you’re really looking for the ads that have run for a long time and are still running today because that tells you that that Ad is successful and maybe your competitor isn’t doing anything, maybe somebody else in your, somebody else in a, somewhat a similar vertical is doing something, you can take a look at what they’re doing too. It doesn’t always have to be a competitor; you can get different ideas from different areas as well.

So, check these tools out and we’ll have it in show notes too, www.levelingup.com and let me know what you think.


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I did a session earlier today with Brian Dean from Backlinko: an SEO expert who grew his blog to over 100,000 visits per month in just under two years. He taught me how to use Google Keyword Planner like an expert, so I wanted to share it with you.

[spoiler title=’Transcript’ collapse_link=’true’]

I just wanted give you guys a really quick tip.

I actually did a session today with Brian from Backlinko who’s an SEO expert, grew his blog to over a hundred thousand visits and it took him just a little under two years, I believe. One hundred thousand visits a month, I should clarify. And he said something really interesting.

I know I did an episode on how to do modern day keyword research but he talked about how you can use Google Keyword Planner and use it like an expert. I actually never used it that way. The way he’s describing I used it, I use it like a newbie. But he said was, for example, if you’re looking for the keyword ‘wedding planner’, you might go on Google, type in ‘wedding planner’ or ‘wedding ideas’ and you’ll see different results on the paging. You want to see what top ranking results are getting, ideally, the websites that are maybe getting the most links and the highest domain authority. What you do is, instead of putting in keyword ideas into Google Keyword Planner, what you do is you take the URL and plug it into Google Keyword Planner and it would give you better ideas for keywords with more volume inside of them. So, I actually went out and tried that, went to Pinterest and I took one of their queries for a search result which is a wedding ideas, plug it in and got some excellent ideas with keywords that have a lot of volume. So, that work out really well and it’s absolutely free to do it. It just takes a little research on your side and I think it’s a great way to do keyword research as well.

So, hat tip to Backlinko on this tip. You guys definitely check out his, I’m doing a summit. That’s coming up. You are going to see me announce that soon. And the summit is including him. He’s going to include a lot of actual details on SEO. Not so much, actually, it’s going to be free for a couple of days as well. There’s going to be people like Brian, Neil Patel, Heaton Sean, people like that. So, stay tune for that. I will announce it officially soon.



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