You're (Probably) Doing Creative-Testing All Wrong
The secret to one DTC brand's huge improvements in their ad campaigns is something you could be doing, but probably aren't. Google adds new merchant features... And more!
DTC: Why Testing Saved this Cosmetics Brand's Ad Campaigns
It's not easy to be in the ad market these days — especially if you're a DTC brand. You don't have to tell that to Jones Road Beauty.
A month ago, all their ads were struggling... clickthrough was at an all time low of around 0.6% and cost-per-click was climbing up to nearly $4.
The company made some changes and today they've more than doubled their CTR, slashed their CPC by half, and now enjoys a 35% lower cost for acquisition.
You might be asking — okay, what changes, exactly?
On the podcast today, we were joined by Cody Plofker, the Director of E-Commerce at Jones Road Beauty. Here's what he had to say:
I think the answer was really simple. But not everyone's doing it — testing everything. Testing in a really methodical way.
We just got away with not having ideal creative. And it's funny, because everybody's now like "Creative is king." And "You have to invest in creative now."
It's always been important. It's always been super important.
We could get away with not having it be ideal. We could just "media-buy" our way through it.
Now, we don't really have that opportunity.
So definitely creative testing — having that be the main focus.
However, I see — and I've totally made this mistake myself — so many brands and agencies testing really small things like colors, or font. Or frame versus no frame.
Instead, we've taken the approach that let's test really big things. Let's do [fewer] tests. Let's work on making better creative. And then when we do test, let's test things that are drastically drastically different than what we've done before.
Big risks. Be willing to play on the outskirts of the brand guidelines a little bit.
SEO: How to Handle Temporarily Out-of-Stock Products
So that's promoting your product, but what about if you can't even GET your product and are caught up in the supply chain issues, forcing your online store to show a lot of Out of Stock messages. That's bad for your customer experience, but it also might be hurting your ranking in Google.
In one of his weekly SEO hangouts, Google search engineer John Mueller shared four tips for handling out-of-stock products online that won't affect user experience and are SEO-optimized for Google.
So should you leave your out-of-stock products listed online?
Yes, is the short answer.
It is something where what works best for us is if we can keep the URL online for things that are really temporary, in the sense that if the URL remains indexable and with structured data you tell us this product is currently not available.
Then we can at least kind of like keep this URL in our index and keep refreshing it regularly to pick up that change in availability as quickly as possible
SearchEngineJournal.com offers a great outline on how Mueller suggests you deal with out-of-stock pages.
Quoting the piece:
Use Schema.org structured data to tell Google that the products are out of stock and when it’s back in stock to update the structured data accordingly...
Add the noindex meta tag to the web pages with out of stock content and/or remove all links to the pages.
Speed Up Indexing of Newly In-stock Product Pages: You can speed this up a little bit by being a bit deliberate with your internal linking. So in particular, …when things are linked from the home page, we think that they’re a little bit more important and we go off and try them out fairly quickly. If you add those products back and if you add a link to your home page saying, oh these things are not in stock again, then we can take that and say, oh this seems to be an important thing.
Mueller also suggested adding a back-in-stock link on the home page to make Google crawl and rank the pages more quickly, especially if the site had been down for a while.
SUPPLY CHAIN: Will Santa Claus be Coming to Town?
This year, it may not be the Grinch who stole Christmas, but the supply chain.
According to a new study, supply chain woes of retail executives are not likely to ease any time soon:
98% of surveyed retail executives say they are experiencing supply chain issues.
100% predicted that disruptions in the supply chain will affect the holiday season "significantly or somewhat" and last through 2022.
To mitigate costs from the challenges, 59% of executives increased pricing or shipping costs, and 36% took a margin hit to maintain prices.
The study was conducted by First Insight and the Wharton School's Baker Retailing Centre.
PROMOTED: Social Web Suite for Marketers
Social Web Suite is a social media management tool that helps you create, manage, schedule, post, and analyze social messages for you and your clients.
With Social Web Suite, you can streamline social media management by managing all your social content from one platform.
You'll be able to manage clients’ social media content with different workspaces and calendars for each client and different team members assigned to unique workspaces.
Social Web Suite populates your calendar with optimal times to post based on industry best practices, letting you launch your social media campaign in less than five minutes.
While onboarding, you’ll have the option to create intelligent content categories or import them from your WordPress website.
Assign each post to a content category, and the platform will automatically share content from your categories based on your settings for that category.
COMMERCE: NRF Predicts Holiday Sales to Rise 10.5%
Despite the supply chain woes, holiday sales are predicted to rise, according to the National Retail Federation.
Holiday sales during November and December are forecast to grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, compared to 2020. Up to $226 billion is expected to be generated by online sales and other non-store sales.
Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising. Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand.
GOOGLE: Adds New Merchant Features Ahead of the Holidays
Google today announced new features in Merchant Center to support retailers running promotions, sales and price drops, including a "Deals" feed in the Shopping tab.
Here’s what you need to know about the new features.
The “Deals” feed
Deals badged products will now appear in a new tab in the Shopping section.
This feed can be found by selecting "Deals" from the menu or by searching for terms like "deals" or "black friday."
If a product has a deals badge, it is automatically included and will be highlighted based on the the offer and discount.
New ways to track in Merchant Center:
Merchants can view which of their products are eligible for a deals badge in Google Merchant Center's products tab.
Additionally, a new dashboard provides impressions, clicks, and click-through rate data for Shopping ads featuring deals badges.
With the new features eCommerce marketers now have multiple places in Google to showcase deals.
Retailers running promotions, sales, or price drops need to maintain their product feeds to be eligible for these organic ways to reach shoppers.
PLATFORMS: Cash In on Your Tweets
All iOS users globally can now Super Follow select creators on Twitter.
Super Follows @SuperFollowswe know what you’re thinking—“what’s Super Follows and I hope there’s a thread explaining everything.” well you’re in luck, here’s a 🧵 https://t.co/aXN7rHJXaT
Super Follows, a way for people to earn monthly revenue by sharing subscriber-only content with their followers on Twitter.
How does it work?
Super Follow subscriptions are priced at $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 per month for eligible accounts.
Creators must be a U.S. citizen, have 10,000 followers, and have tweeted at least 25 times in the last month to be eligible.
Tweets can be marked for subscribers only, while regular tweets can continue to reach unpaid followers.
Is this form of influencer marketing worth it?
Quoting Tech Crunch:
A report from Sensor Tower revealed that Super Follows had only generated around $6,000 in the U.S. and around $600 or so in Canada in its first two weeks since launching.
Twitter does offer other tools for creators to make money:
Tip Jar, a way for accounts to receive one-time payments from followers.
Ticketed Spaces lets creators charge anywhere from $1 to $999 for advanced ticketing for its live audio rooms features.
GOOGLE ADS: Forecasting Future Demand
As you know, one of the big components of an online ad campaign is how you handle bids and budgets, both of which can be pretty dramatically impacted by competition in the auction.
Last weekend, Google Ads consultant Jyll Saskin Gales joined us for a weekend edition in which I asked if THAT platform has a way to forecast demand increases, especially as we get closer to Black Friday.
There actually is. And it's been made much more intuitive this year than in years past.
If you are a Google Ads advertiser of the many options, you can choose in the Google Ads interface, there's something called the Insights tab. It sits right next to the recommendations tab. It'll show you — right now and forecasted over the next few months — demands in your category and for your keywords.
You can go in there right now, and Google Ads will say no, right now, you're capturing X percent of impressions or X percent of clicks, and this is what we expect it to look like over the next month over the next two months.
Based on that, you can get an idea of how much you may want to increase your budget or increase your bids to capture that additional opportunity, which is really great.
That's only available if you are already spending money in Google Ads, so that there's enough data to go off.
If you're not currently spending money on Google Ads, and you want to know that as well, the top resource — actually, there's two — one is Google Trends which is great. (While it won't forecast for you, you can see what happened last year. And given how crazy last year was, you may want to also look at the year before.)
Then another tool that's from Think with Google is called Rising Retail Categories. It's sort of like Google Trends, but specifically for retail. It lets you see week over week or month over month: What are the top trending products, for us and about a dozen other countries.
It's sort of like a very curated version of Google Trends.
That's just a bit from the very detailed interview, so if you missed that, just go back to our October 23rd episode. And be sure to check Jyll out at jyll.ca or follow her on TikTok — she's @the_google_pro there.
FUNNY: Finally, the Dad Bod Gets Recognition
And finally, new words are out — well, new words are being defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. 455 of them, to be precise.
They include "deplatform" which means “to prevent from having or providing a platform to communicate.”
They've provided a new definition for the word "because" — "often used in a humorous way to convey vagueness about the exact reasons for something. This preposition use of because is versatile; it can be used, for example, to avoid delving into the overly technical (“the process works because science”) or to dismiss explanation altogether (“they left because reasons”).
And, a word close to my heart, "dad bod" — a physique regarded as typical of an average father; especially; one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular.