Ilana Wechsler has years and millions of dollars of experience in running paid ads. During that time she’s picked up knowledge that online marketers from any industry can benefit from.
In another value-packed guest appearance, she shares seven lessons she’s gleaned about paid advertising across various platforms.
In the episode:
02:03 – This is how you know what works
05:35 – Intent is often the best starting point
09:32 – Letting the algorithms work for you
16:03 – Beef up your copy and creatives
21:17 – Identify and reinvest the waste
26:09 – A conversation across multiple platforms
30:06 – An unexpected emphasis on email
33:55 – What we’ve talked about
Ilana has been working with multiple platforms across many industries. The total ad spend she’s handled is somewhere in the decamillions. She’s run a PPC agency for the past seven or eight years. And her work has given her some really valuable information on what works in traffic.
In this episode she shares that information with us, broken down into seven hard-hitting tips that apply to pretty much anyone running paid ads online.
This is how you know what works
It doesn’t matter what industry you operate in, be it ecommerce, or service business, or information product business – the first thing you need is the proper tracking setup. Many people struggle with this, asking, what kind of tracking do you need to set up?
Ilana suggests looking at what’s called macro conversions, like, what are your big picture events that you’re wanting to measure? For ecommerce, this would be a sale. For lead gen, it would be someone getting in touch. Consider as well micro conversions – what are the steps leading up to your macro conversion?
You need this tracking in place in order to know, once you’ve spent X amount of dollars, whether your ads have been successful or not.
“We can’t optimize if we don’t know what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”
Ilana audits ad accounts all the time for her Teach Traffic members, and has seen countless cases where there isn’t any kind of tracking. Simply put, you can’t optimize something if you don’t know what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. Without proper tracking, you’re flying blind.
There’s a lot of wastage in trying to run ads without tracking. That, says Ilana, is why online advertising has grown so much – there’s the transparency to see what has and hasn’t worked. You can stop throwing money at what isn’t working and pour it into what does work. But to know which is which, you need to set up tracking in your ad accounts, and many people don’t now that.
You can just use the tool that the platform provides, says Ilana. If you’re doing Google ads, and you’ve set up what’s called Goals in Analytics, you can even import those goals into your Google Ad account. Because Facebook and Google are not friends, you can’t do that on the Facebook side of things. It will take an extra step. But you can absolutely just use the tracking in those ad accounts, and set up goals in Analytics as well.
Beyond that, adds James, there’ll be some third party tools that you could use that will help you track all of your ads and even your non-paid campaigns like particular emails, social media, organic posts, etc., if you want to go down that path.
But as a minimum, number one, if you’re not at least using the tracking that the platform provides, don’t bother with paid traffic.
Intent is often the best starting point
Big lesson number two, says Ilana, is to focus on intent. Intent online, she says, is so powerful. And it’s often the best starting point. Many people would agree that if you can’t convert people who showed intent online, then there’s likely a problem with your website converting people.
An example of intent would be Google shopping ads or Google search ads. Someone’s literally gone to Google and typed in the exact product or service that you sell. At the very least, you want to make other sales or leads from that type of traffic.
“Focus on people who intend to buy.”
Now, you might find that search traffic might be too not cost-effective, and often it’s unprofitable. But it’s the perfect starting point to test if your website is doing its job of converting people into leads or customers.
If there is an intent campaign, there is also the opposite. Ilana gives the example of a Facebook ad campaign pushing a product people don’t know exists. Not, she says, that you shouldn’t ever do that. However, you have to consider the appropriateness. People, for instance, don’t go to Facebook looking to buy brake pads or engage an injury lawyer.
Again, if you have the possibility of participating in intent-type traffic, it’s the perfect starting point to test if you can actually convert those people into customers. This works very well for ecommerce or service-type businesses, where there is a high number of intent-based queries. Amazon is a great example. If you sell a product there, it makes sense to have Amazon PPC campaigns going on.
Letting the algorithms work for you
Lesson three is to lean into the algorithms or pixels that are on ad platforms. This has become more apparent in the last 12 to 18 months.
Take the Google Ad platform – an example of their algorithm is their automated bidding, which has really improved over the last year and a half or so.
Typically, on the Google side of things, you would pay for a click. It was an auction where people would set the maximum amount that they were willing to spend per click. Now Google has really developed what’s called automated bidding, which you are handing over the bidding decision to Google.
When you start getting conversion data through your account, (going back to setting up the right tracking), when you’ve set up those conversions, Google knows what you want. When you have more than 30 conversions in a 30-day period, you can tell Google to automate the bidding for you. Google will decide what you’re going to pay for a click based on different people and all the signals that they’re getting in your algorithm.
There’s a number of different automated bidding strategies you can use. One that Ilana probably likes the most is target CPA bidding, where you tell Google your ideal cost per lead, and they go and find people at that level.
On Facebook, lookalike audiences are very good. So is CBO or Campaign Budget Optimization, where, similar to automated bidding, you indicate your budget, let Facebook distribute it among the ad sets, and they decide which ad set deserves more budget than another, based on performance.
It’s important, says Ilana, to always get enough data going for the pixels to learn who you want, and from there your performance can get better and better.
Once you train the pixel up and it knows what to do, it can be powerful. And as a business owner, you can work on increasing your product profitability, so you can afford to pay more for your leads. You can then go back into auction more, and you can have a stronger pixel working for you that can spend more than someone else’s pixel.
On the Facebook side of things, once FB gets enough data going through the ad account, you’ll find that the targeting side of things is actually quite secondary. You’re dealing with large audiences, often just a lookalike audience. You just need to focus on the creative side of things, and it will completely take off.
Note, though, says Ilana, if you have two unrelated types of businesses, you want to run them through separate ad accounts, to avoid confusing the pixels.
How much do you have to spend to get this working well? Ilana says it depends. Some ad accounts don’t have to spend nearly as much as others to get similar results. It often lies in how rabid your market is. The pet space, for example, is a very passionate industry where the cost per clicks and the cost per leads are much cheaper, so marketers don’t need to spend as much.
So it’s not so much a reflection on the amount you spend as it is a reflection on ad engagement, as well as traffic going through the pixel.
Beef up your copy and creatives
Number four is to have really, really good copy and creatives. It is imperative, says Ilana. People are often hyper-focused on targeting, which is important, but creative and copy are key to the success of your ads. It is a war of attention out there, and if you can’t hook people with your copy, they will just scroll past.
“It is a war of attention out there.”
James sees a lot of this as a coach. People come to him when their product’s not selling, and they want him to help fix it. What they should be doing is investing first in good copy, because without that offer that converts, there’s no money to do anything else.
He’s got a partner member giving away a free copy course to help people tune their sales page, because they’ve seen business owners neglect copy as they stress over making the product and worrying about tech. The offer is available at 10XPro.io/salecopy.
Ilana has hired many copywriters before, she says, because it’s so important. If you don’t nail that copy, then it’s really money down the drain. No amount of good targeting is going to make your ads work.
That said, it’s also important to have the right audience and a relevant offer. As talked about in his Rob Hanly series, it’s the market, it’s the offer, and then it’s the copy. They all have to line up to get results.
Identify and reinvest the waste
Number five is to make sure that you cull the wasted ad spend. Ilana often says to people, during the first month or two running ads, get into the mindset that you’re buying data. It’s an investment, not an expense.
You’re then going to interpret the data and identify the waste, using the tracking you’ve set up. You’re going to turn off what’s not working and reinvest the money into what has worked.
On the Google side of things, culling waste will mean, if you’re running search ads or shopping ads, adding negative keywords to prevent your ads for showing for things that you don’t want.
If you’re running a retargeting campaign, or display campaign, or even a YouTube campaign, you’ll need to exclude certain placements that are consuming too much budget and aren’t converting.
And on the Facebook side of things, this will mean identifying creative and audiences which are not converting as well.
It’s a process of redirecting the resources that you would have continued to spend on waste into what is working, and this is where you’re going to turn your ad account around.
It’s the 80/20, says James. He recalls a peel and tick method taught by Perry Marshall back in the day, where you would peel out your best campaigns and stick them up as new ones, dumping the ones that didn’t work.
James has actually applied culling to his Amazon PPC ads. He exported spreadsheets, looked at what phrases had nothing to do with the book he was selling, and excluded the engine from bidding on them and wasting money. That way he made the same number of sales but with significantly lower ad spend.
A conversation across multiple platforms
Number six is making the channels work together. Ilana is a big fan of using the various ad platforms together. Someone, for instance, comes to your website, perhaps from a Facebook or YouTube ad, it makes sense to continue the conversation via other platforms. Because they didn’t buy your product, or become a lead, or buy your book straight off the back, it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested. It just might mean that life kind of got in the way a little bit.
Ilana shared her philosophy on this at James’s live event in March 2020, and it is still quite relevant. You can find out more on her paid traffic puzzle concept at TeachTraffic.com/puzzle. It is basically seven years of knowledge in one course of how to draw insights from one platform and apply it successfully to another platform.
She uses as an example James’s Amazon PPC ads. If his book makes sales on another person’s listing of a book, let’s say Bob Smith’s, why not get Bob Smith on his podcast and tell Bob’s audience about it? Bob has James’s customers. Why not target Bob’s Facebook page, or his YouTube channel, if he allows Google ads there?
“There’s bigger wins by taking the low-hanging fruit in multiple platforms, than there is in just going deep on one platform.”
There are insights you can draw, says Ilana, that you can leverage from one platform to another. It’s low-hanging fruit, and works for whatever type of online business you have – ecommerce, lead gen, info products, etc.
An unexpected emphasis on email
Number seven is an unexpected one, coming from an ad person like Ilana. It is to use ads to build your email list.
Ilana is a big fan of Own The Racecourse, and that, she says, is the King Kong, to build your own database. You would use the ad platforms to do that, but once the people are on your email list, you own that database. You can control where you upload it, and as an extension you can use ads with email marketing.
If you have 5000 people on your email database, you can upload that list to Facebook when you send a promotion via email. The big mistake so many people make, says Ilana, is as soon as someone’s on their email list, they never show them an ad again, thinking, why should they spend the money now that they’re on their list?
In her opinion, always combine ads with email marketing for your offers, so that many people share it. Use ads to build your email list. But then also combine ads with email.
Ilana recalls a client who was running ads for a free video course. At the end of the course, they had an offer for their membership, but never showed ads. At Ilana’s advice, they turned on the ads for the offer at the end of the course, and there was a massive boost in sales. Not everyone they’d emailed had seen their offer, number one. And number two, many of the people who saw the ad and liked the product commented and shared.
“An email gives you so many opportunities.”
Email, too, gives many opportunities. You can converse with buyers. And you can have a sequence for prospects, especially with a cart abandonment sequence, if they’re known to you. James does a lot of conversion via email. And even with current customers, it’s important to continue the email connection.
Email is a great delivery system if someone wants to be on your list, and building your email list up with some paid traffic is a great idea.
What we’ve talked about
All in all, the seven lessons Ilana and James covered are as follow:
1) Track your data.
2) Take advantage of intents to buy, with Google shopping ads, search ads or a shopping cart abandonment campaign.
3) Use your pixel. Leverage the AI and platform tools that do bidding for you.
4) Improve your copy and creatives.
5) Cull the waste. Redirect resources from what’s not working to what does work.
6) Get the platforms to talk to each other. See Ilana’s presentation on this at TeachTraffic.com/puzzle.
7) Use the ad platforms to build your email list, use your database for your ad campaigns, and promote with both ads and email.
If you want Ilana to have a look at your own campaigns, head over to TeachTraffic.com.
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