Utilising Google Analytics for Advanced Paid Search Audience Strategies
Targeting the right user, or excluding the wrong user, can give you a great advantage in paid search.
Some notes to be aware of;
- Creating RLSA audiences in Google Analytics requires admin access
- Make sure to read the notes further down on how session duration is calculated
- Test and test again before implementing any wide ranging strategies
Here we’ll discuss some audience RLSA strategies using Google Analytics, to try and give you some ideas to get ahead of the competition.
We’ll give some background on PPC audiences in Google Analytics, what a typical setup might be and then look at some ideas for strategy.
Check out our guide on all things audiences if you’d like a run down on the targeting options within AdWords.
Audiences Strategy & Background
It’s quite often said that audience strategies can become too complicated, segmenting users down to a level where lists are very small and setups are over-complicated, trying to deliver targeted messaging to very small audiences.
Using this kind of setup, while right for some clients and strategies, a lot of the time it can end up not delivering the return on the time invested.
This is because it can massively over-complicate management and ultimately you can’t collect enough data to tell whether something has worked.
By taking your audience strategy back to basics and looking at a top-down level, some fantastic efficiencies can be made while simplifying your strategy. Both saving time, and hopefully improving performance.
Uncomplicated doesn’t have to mean that it isn’t clever. This give you a chance to reap the right rewards, both in increasing your visibility to potential customers, while also gaining efficiencies by looking at users not to serve adverts to.
The second area, around audience efficiencies is one which is often overlooked.
Taking Audiences Back to Basics, Cleverly
A typical GA audience strategy may include;
- Time decay targeting
- Funnel targeting
- Goal/event targeting
- Targeting users from particular areas of the site
As a result, this can quickly get out of hand if not managed correctly, its really easy to start creating lots and lots of segments.
The overlooked areas however can sometimes be the most successful. When looking at groups of users, we need to think more like a UX designer,. How else can we segment users on site into groups of good and poor performers?
Some GA segments to consider creating audiences from;
Positive Audiences to target
- Average session duration *
- High Session Quality
- Repeat visitors
Average Session Duration
As the above image shows, conversion rate for users with a longer than average session duration is very strong.
Create a segment with good session duration and no conversions and then look to bid up on these users. They are typically highly engaged and the pages per session is strong.
As the note below says on how average session duration is calculated, it is imperative to test these theories using campaign drafts and experiments.
Don’t implement a strategy which could have a large impact on traffic and performance without testing first.
High Session Quality
A highly underused metric, session quality can give some fantastic insights into your data and allows you to create segments for remarketing.
Released around September 2016, session quality is still in BETA and is available for both the free and paid versions of analytics. Click the link below to find out how to navigate to session quality in GA.
Similar technology and machine learning as in Smart Lists and Smart Goals is used to calculate the session quality. Based on a scale of 1-100, the higher the score, theoretically the higher a user is likely to convert.
Get an overview of the data by navigating to the session quality as in the screenshot above.
Your sessions will automatically be divided up;
At this point, you can subdivide the session quality groups further or create an audience straight from the menu by clicks on the segment button.
Again, look to create segments where the session quality is higher with stronger conversion rates. Make sure to exclude the relevant conversion or goals so you are only targeting the users you want to, i.e. those that haven’t completed an action.
Audiences to bid down or exclude
- Users with a very short session duration *
- Mobile users with low pages per session
- Low session quality
In exactly the same way as increasing your bids for better performing audiences, you can bid down or exclude poor performing audiences.
One of the many good elements with creating audiences in analytics is that you can now include device performance within your audience.
Consider low session quality, short session duration, particularly on mobile and users with low pages per session.
You should find that you can make some fantastic budget optimisation within your campaigns. Again, test, test and test before implementing.
* For both targeting and excluding users based on session duration, it is extremely important to test this first, as with any other strategy. Session duration, particularly short sessions can sometimes be a misleading guide.
Justin Cutroni explains in this excellent article how session duration and time calculation works within Google Analytics.
There are lots of great segments which you can create within Google Analytics to segment your users, think about how you could define good and bad profiles and play about with creating you own segments.
Get a step up on the competition by creating audiences to exclude.
And finally, if you find a low/high engagement audience, make sure to test how the similar audience of those groups perform too with a campaign experiment.
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