Grow online sales
We've outlined the formula that can help you drive more growth with every dollar this season. Select a step or scroll to get started.
July - August
August - September
September - November
December - January
July - August
Before doing anything else, it’s important to pinpoint your business objective. Then you can make sure your marketing, media and campaign objectives and KPIs are working together to achieve that goal.
Start by talking to the CEO and CMO to make sure your goals line up with theirs.
- Know your business objective
- Align marketing objective
- Set your media objectives
- Pick your campaign objectives
Know your business objective
Talk to the CEO.
Or at least make sure you understand their main business objective. This usually falls into one of three categories: market share, revenue, or profit.
And keep in mind — great business objectives are measurable, timebound, and raise the bar above what you’re already achieving.
Now make sure your marketing, campaign, and media objectives are all working toward that same goal.
Brands using agencies
Hold a quarterly business review with your agency to ensure you’re making progress toward your business goals.
To create sustainable growth, shift your focus from driving sales volume or revenue to driving profit. Work with your team to identify profitability goals. Then, use those to inform your marketing investments.
You are 3X more likely to hit your business goals if you tie them to your marketing goals.1
Your holiday season goals might look a little different this year. When setting objectives, evaluate results from multiple holiday seasons, and keep a pulse on current trends to see where there’s room to grow and evolve. Use Rising Retail Categories, the Market Insights 'best sellers' report, and the Retail Categories Report for the latest insights.
She’s in charge of digital marketing at the mattress company Feather. The CEO’s business objective for the year is to increase revenue from online channels and affiliates by 25% – from $10M to $12.5M – by the end of 2021.
Knowing this, Jen can draw a direct line from hitting her goals to hitting her CEO’s goals.
Align on your marketing objective
This is how the CEO's business objective is achieved.
The marketing objective should be the answer to the CEO’s business objective. It’s usually set by the CMO, and can be anything from generating leads to growing offline sales. In this case, we’ll focus on growing online sales.
Brands using agencies
Make sure you’re aligned on your marketing objective, not just campaign KPIs.
From focusing on sales revenue to focusing on profitable business growth. This positions marketing as a profit center, rather than a cost center.
Jen’s marketing objective is to increase the number of sales on their website from new and existing customers by 25% before mid 2021 — from $4.5M to $5.6M.
Set your media objectives
Now things get more detailed.
The media objectives help you meet the marketing objective — which, in this case, is increasing online sales. They’re usually set by the digital marketing team, and break down into two parts:
Performance objectives focus on the bottom of the funnel, measured by KPIs like transactions and form submissions.
Brand objectives focus on the top of the funnel and drive factors like ad recall, brand awareness, and brand interest.
From only focusing on performance marketing to developing a full funnel strategy — with brand goals that drive lower funnel outcomes.
Jen sets two media objectives for Feather:
Her performance objective is to drive 7k purchases from customers from Google Ads by mid 2021.
Her brand objective is to reach 2M engaged viewers on YouTube by mid 2021.
Together, they should help her CMO reach their marketing objective.
Pick your campaign objectives
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Campaign objectives are the KPIs used to gauge the success of a specific marketing campaign. We recommend you keep a close eye on Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).
From measuring proxies like CPA or CPL to measuring actual business outcomes, with KPIs like Return On Ad Spend or Lifetime Customer Value.
Make sure all your goals support each other by involving the right people — from account managers to senior decision makers.
Since Jen has two media objectives, she sets a campaign objective for each of them.
For her performance objective (7k purchases): her KPI is a Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 350% over Q1-Q2.
For her brand objective (2M engaged viewers): her KPI is a 15% brand lift from viewers on YouTube.
August - September
Success is built on strong foundations. Before launching any new campaigns, make sure you have the big three in place: robust measurement, an automation strategy, and powerful creative.
- Understand your customers
- Find your high-value customers
- Stand out with powerful creative
Understand your customers better with robust measurement
First-party data is your best friend
Rising user expectations on privacy have resulted in additional privacy regulations and restrictions on cookies from browsers, changing the way the ecosystem measures conversions.
Make sure you’re using cookies that live on the same domain as your site, known as first-party cookies, to track conversions. This will help prevent potential conversion loss from browser cookie restrictions. It’s best to avoid using third-party cookies that are restricted by some browsers.
Measure the customer user journey: use enhanced conversions and upgrade to non-last click attribution
Increase the accuracy of conversion tracking across Search and YouTube by automatically matching customer data to logged-in user data, all anonymized, using enhanced conversions (broadly available this summer). This helps you to recover conversions not otherwise observed.
And don’t forget to upgrade to non-last click attribution. Before filling out a form on your website or calling for info, people may click or interact with several of your ads. Instead of giving all the credit to the last thing they saw or interacted with, non-last click attribution assigns credit to the earlier customer touchpoints that helped influence the ultimate conversion.
When compared to last-click attribution, data-driven attribution typically delivers more conversions at a similar cost to other attribution strategies.2
Data-driven attribution model was upgraded to also attribute non-last click credit to YouTube clicks and engaged views and Display clicks.
Comparing attribution models for Feather
A data-driven model distributes credit differently for each interaction along the consumer journey.
After setting up data-driven attribution, Jen realized one of their display ads had a much bigger impact on sales than originally thought. Even though more sales were coming from the search ad, most of those were from people who had clicked on the display ad first. So Jen increased the budget for display ads as a result.
Track your actual sales
A key step to maximizing your ROI is tracking how much each sale is worth. Once you’ve done that, you can use automated bidding strategies like Target ROAS to maximize the value of every dollar you spend. (We’ll go into Target ROAS on the next card.)
Compare apples to apples
We recommend consolidating platforms to bring all sources of customer data into one place. As your data scales and your process becomes more automated, this will be even more important.
Use the Conversions Report to understand how you’re completing goals across multiple sources.
Find your highest-value customers with a value-based bidding strategy
Some customers bring more value than others, and your bidding should reflect that.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to focus on your best customers and bid only on them — adjusting each bid based on each user’s unique combination of signals and value. Of course, this would be incredibly time consuming and nearly impossible to do manually, even for highly skilled people.
However, value-based bid strategies allow you to do this easily and at scale. Our best-in-class example of this is Target Return on Ad Spend (Target ROAS) to try to get the most value out of every dollar.
Unlike Target CPA, Target ROAS treats each customer differently. It incorporates the predicted value of each customer, their likelihood of conversion, and the value of each step (like a click or form fill) using the conversion values you reported earlier.
35% increase in conversion value when moving from manual bidding to Target ROAS on shopping.3
15% average increase in conversion value switching from Target CPA to Target ROAS.4
Target ROAS allows you to bid based on the value of each customer — not just how much it’ll cost to acquire them. Just input the average return you’d like to make on every dollar spent on ads, and it optimizes with your profitability goal in mind.
For example, if you’d like to make $3 for every $1 spent on ads, your target ROAS would be 300%. To find yours, use this formula:
Ensure you use the automation package of broad match keywords, responsive search ads, and a value-based bidding strategy like Target ROAS, and responsive search ads.
Not sure what your target ROAS goal is? Transition to Maximize conversion value.
Monitor your bidding to ensure you’re meeting holiday goals. Consider using seasonality adjustments for short, infrequent events, when you expect a temporary but significant change in conversion rates.
Like Target CPA? You’ll love Target ROAS.
Target CPA controls for ad spend and treats all conversions equally, but Target ROAS controls for both ad spend and customer value.
Feather wants to make $4 for every $1 they spend on advertising. She deploys a broad match keyword strategy to capture potential new searches she can’t anticipate. She also uses responsive search ads to provide relevant, and personalized ad copy. Finally, using Target ROAS, Jen makes sure they only target customers who’d give them a 400% Return On Ad Spend or better. This means spending up to $250 to sell a $1,000 mattress, or up to $10 to sell a $40 pillow.
tCPA vs tROAS
Using Target CPA, Jen would be eligible to target both customers Tony and Tiara. Using Target ROAS, Jen would target Tiara, maximizing her return.
Take Target ROAS even further - optimize for profits.
Start by using this formula, which takes costs into account, to calculate the profit from your Google Ads investment.
Then you can import your margin value into Google Ads, and use Target ROAS to optimize for the profit of each sale.
Stand out with powerful creative
Write more effective search ads
Research backs up what we know to be true: The creative aspects of an ad (like headlines) are still the most important element in driving sales. In the link below, we’ve compiled a list of best practices to make your search ads as impactful as possible.
Follow best practices for Display Ads
For Display ads, make sure you have a strong image that follows all requirements, with a compelling headline and a clear value prop in the description. When possible, try to use an image with a single subject, a natural composition, and square edges. Avoid overlaying logos or text.
For more help picking the right photo, check out our Display Creative Best Practices Guide below.
75% of advertising impact is determined by creative quality.5
Use our recipe for strong videos
After lots of testing, we boiled down the essential rules for effective creative on YouTube. Make sure to share them with your creative team before they start on their next video ad.
Now you're ready.
September - November
Now it’s time to supercharge your efforts. We’ll break this section into two parts: capturing existing demand at the bottom of the funnel, and generating new demand at the top.
- Capture existing demand
- Generate new demand
Capture existing demand
We recommend you:
Find words related to your products or services using Keyword Planner.
Run a branded search campaign to capture customers who are searching for you and ready to buy.
Use Dynamic Search Ads to capture more traffic without adding or managing more keywords.
Use responsive search ads to automatically show customized results based on what users are searching for.
Find new geographies to target using Market Finder.
Make the most of your budget by using Target Return On Ad Spend.
Make sure to follow Target ROAS best practices:
Start with a Target ROAS close to what you’re already achieving, and tweak from there. Starting with too high of a Target ROAS may impact your conversion volume and limit the amount of traffic your ads get.
Give Target ROAS its full learning period, which can be a few weeks — depending on how long it takes a lead to move through your lead-to-sale journey. (Your performance may vary widely during this learning period.)
After the learning period, continue to tweak your Target ROAS to find the optimal balance of volume and efficiency.
The product package of broad match keywords, target return on ad spend and responsive search ads are more powerful together.
Jen used Keyword Planner to see what customers were searching when researching mattresses, and created a search campaign targeting the most relevant terms. Then she set up Dynamic Search Ads to automatically cover any keywords missed using page content from their website.
Set up Shopping ads
If you sell physical goods, shopping ads are a simple and flexible way to get your inventory in front of more people.
To make the most of them, we recommend you:
Set up your products to show on Google Shopping and Search through Google Merchant Center.
Connect your e-commerce platform directly to Google Merchant Center. (Check with your platform to see if they support this.)
Use Smart Shopping campaigns to automatically target (and retarget) customers with a high purchase intent on Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail.
Create a separate Smart Shopping campaign if you want to prioritize certain types of products during the holiday season. Setting a lower ROAS target than your current campaigns can help maximize visibility for these products in the weeks leading up to peak periods when many people are browsing.
Feather's shopping campaign
Some e-commerce platforms allow you to connect directly to Google Merchant Center.
Acquire valuable customers with App Campaigns
If you have an app, Use Google App Campaigns to drive purchases and interact with your most valuable customers. App users generate 3.5x more revenue per customer than a mobile website.
Generate new demand - expand to new platforms
New to display ads? Here's a great place to start:
Run a Smart Display campaign to automatically target people across all stages of the customer journey on the Google Display Network.
Use a Discovery campaign to automatically introduce your brand to new customers scrolling through feeds in Gmail, YouTube, and Discover.
To reach existing customers, use Remarketing and Customer Match, which recently lowered its audience eligibility thresholds. To find new customers, negatively target the same lists.
Create Video ads
Chances are, your customers are already turning to YouTube to find advice on what to buy. That makes it the perfect place to reach new people who are actively looking to discover new brands.
For online sales, we recommend starting with a TrueView for action campaign. These are skippable in-stream ads that encourage viewers to take an action with a prominent Action box, headline, and end screen. They even let customers explore your product or share contact info right from the ad.
New to TrueView for Action? Start with Max Conversion bidding, and use a daily budget that’s 20X your Display CPA or 30X your Search CPA.
Jen wanted to generate demand with customers who weren’t already looking for mattresses. So she ran a TrueView for Action campaign on YouTube to broaden her userbase, with prominent calls-to-action and headline text overlays.
Time to refine
Evaluate & expand
December - January
As time passes, you’ll better understand how your ads are performing. Use this information to optimize your performance, test new strategies, and find more opportunities for growth.
- Spend your time wisely
- Test, learn, and refine
- Don't miss the opportunity
Give automation time to learn
It can take around two weeks to get an accurate read on your data when using automated bidding solutions. Check the bid strategy report to see how many days are left in your learning period, and try not to make many changes to your campaign in the meantime.
Spend your time where it counts
Let Google find the opportunities
When you’re running hundreds of campaigns, saving time is critical. Your optimization score helps you do this by estimating how well your Google Ads account is performing, and gives you personalized recommendations that will help it perform even better.
80% of digital marketers’ time is spent on manual tasks like bidding, and only 20% is spent on strategy.6
Keep an eye out in your account for the top optimization score recommendations for holiday readiness: Bids, Budgets, Coverage, and Smart Shopping.
Test, learn, and refine
Throughout the holidays, Performance Planner can help you ensure your investment is sufficient to meet your goals, plan optimal budget and bid settings, and adjust forecasts to account for expected future performance changes.
Don't leave opportunity on the table
Grow your slice of the pie
If your campaign is hitting its targets — but maxing out its budget — there’s probably more room to grow. Check your impression share in your Google Ads account — it’ll tell you how many impressions were gifted to competitors due to insufficient budgets.
Evaluate customer lifetime value when planning your next steps, take lifetime customer value into account.
Figuring out the value of each of your customers isn’t easy. You’ll need to evaluate data from paid sources, organic sources, and your other marketing efforts. Figuring out lifetime value will allow you to bid to the full value each customer provides your business.
To get started, find out how much you’re earning from each customer, go into Google Analytics, open reports, and select “Audience > Lifetime Value.”
Keep a close eye on your impression share data by adding columns in your account for Lost IS (budget) and Display Lost IS (budget), and evaluate opportunities to increase budget. When planning your budgets, remember to have at least 30%+ headroom in Search and Shopping budget over your average daily spend in October.
The new insights page in Google Ads updates daily, and it shows curated insights unique to the business to help you understand current performance, identify growth opportunities and category expansions.
Jen successfully increased Feather’s online sales by 25%. However, when analyzing the impression share data for her campaigns, she noticed that she was still gifting impressions to her competitors.
So she checked the Recommendations Tab, and used the Optimization Score to easily identify opportunities to maximize Feather’s potential by increasing the budget of specific campaigns.
By staying on top of all the opportunities for the account, Feather was able to hit their stretch goal for the year.