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Is Remarketing Dead & Other PPC Questions with Navah Hopkins [Podcast]

Loren Baker hosts Navah Hopkins, host of SEJ’s Ask a PPC column and Director of Paid Media at JustUno. Expect Loren & Navah to dive into remarketing, tracking ROI and other questions & answers coming from the SEJ Show audience.

Here is the entire transcript of the show (please excuse any transcription errors) :

Loren Baker:

Hi everybody. This is Loren Baker, founder of Search Engine Journal. And welcome to the Search Engine Journal show. Today, I have a special guest, Miss. Navah Hopkins. Hey, Navah, how’s it go?

Navah Hopkins:

Howdy guys. TGIF.

Loren Baker:

I know, TGIF. It’s been a long week. How’s it been on your side of the house?

Navah Hopkins:

It’s been fascinating, lots of product developments. We actually have an alpha that Justuno just launched. So that’s really exciting for us. But also just really interesting news and updates coming out on the Paid Media side, the intersects on the SEO and social side. So I’m definitely with you on it being a long week.

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Loren Baker:

Awesome, awesome. So I did notice that you have a new company name underneath you, right next to your name there. So I’ll let you talk a little bit about Justuno and what you all are doing because it’s really interesting to me where you’ve landed. And it sounds like you’re doing something that’s a little bit familiar yet a little bit new.

Navah Hopkins:

Sure. So for those of you that know me, I kind of got my branded trajectory started off at WordStream, which was a software that helped advertisers manage their ad spend. And I found myself now in Justuno which is where companies are able to have intelligent conversion rate optimization but also from a cross-platform standpoint. We help agencies, we help advertisers. And the reason actually, why I landed at Justuno I have a hypothesis and it’s kind of playing out that first party data is going to be central and that paid media folks are going to have to start owning far more of the post-click experience as opposed to just that pre click experience.

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Navah Hopkins:

And thinking about audience segmentation as an integrated approach, as opposed to say, no, I’ll just rely on me to more now just you guys will get me my cookie based audiences and I’ll just carry on. So I’m really excited about what Justuno and all of the players in that space, in the conversion rate optimization space, can do for the Paid Media folks for organic folks, really, to create experiences that earn trust. Where someone is excited to give you their email or someone is excited to give you that first party data, as opposed to being kind of a creepy stalker that follows you around and nags you, buy my thing, buy my thing.

Loren Baker:

So when I was in college studying advertising, there was one quote that I never really got at the time, but it was really popular. And it’s by John Wanamaker. It’s half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half, right? And that’s a quote from the Mad Men era. Is that still relevant?

Navah Hopkins:

So I think we have to decide how do we define wasted spend. Is wasted spend just money that doesn’t turn into sales? Then, yeah. That’s 1000% correct. What’s really interesting with digital advertising is that there’s a data threshold that every single ad platform that we’re going to leverage still needs to use. And so sometimes wasted spend is actually ramp up time so that your leads in the future will actually be cheaper. Or the ad platform will be able to understand you as an equitable advertiser. The other piece to this is testing. So depending on the ad platform, you might actually have to budget for AB tests. Facebook is the default answer there where you actually have ad set specific budgets so that you can improve out creative or demographic experiments. So I would say we have to first take a step back even further, what is waste? Is waste just money that we spend that turn into conversions? Then sure. If not, I think you can… If you can salvage the data out of your spend, nothing is wasted. It’s when you can not understand data points from spend that you have waste.

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Loren Baker:

So if you’re operating at a loss in the beginning in an effort to operate at quite a profit down the road based upon the data you use, it’s not a waste at all. If you’re not leveraging that data that you’re learning during this time that you’re operating at a loss and you continue to operate at a loss or a breakeven point, well then it’s well wasted.

Navah Hopkins:

I think I agree.

Loren Baker:

Kind of.

Navah Hopkins:

What do you mean by operating at a loss? Do you mean that you’re just in the red, your efforts sales, there’s nothing?

Loren Baker:

Well, you’re not hitting your target. Your target customer acquisition numbers or your target performance numbers or whatever, right? Even after a certain amount of time. Because we were talking about this a little bit before we started, like you said, sometimes with Facebook and their advertising is performance-based, but at the beginning of the campaign, it’s kind of like you handing it over to Facebook. You have to spend that for it’s AI, I guess, to learn.

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Navah Hopkins:

I think there’s an unfortunate thing that happens with a lot of advertisers. And this is something I’ve seen play out across a lot of brands where a brand will expect that without business operations in place where they have a very firm idea of what should their customer acquisition costs be, how many leads can they reasonably take in a given period, mean business operation questions, they’ll engage in digital advertising or they’ll engage in digital marketing, and then they’ll be upset six weeks when they’re not hitting target or they’re not hitting goal. And I think a big part of where waste comes from is not just harvesting the data, but understanding what did success need to look like from the beginning?

Navah Hopkins:

What was that baseline metric that I needed to set for myself? Because sometimes folks will hope that digital marketing will save a dying business, but if a business was dying, digital marketing’s not going to solve that problem. There are bigger problems like staff, your fulfillment, just basic operational questions that I think need to be answered before. And this might be going a little bit too tangential from what I know we were originally going to talk about, but it is an important point. And I think it’s at the heart of for marketing that we have to have those business equations set.

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Loren Baker:

It is. And we’ll back up in a second, but it’s really interesting because when I first started with SEO, well, not when I first started, but when it kind of scaled up in the mid 2000s, I guess, I was doing a lot of ORM, right? For companies that they didn’t like the videos that popped up in YouTube when you search for the brand name or they didn’t like this, or didn’t like that. And we did as much ORM as we could to make their presence more or less positive, but they kept repeating the same mistakes that led to people going online and complaining about them. And when you have that type of… I mean, you’re basically-

Navah Hopkins:

You’re paying to tank your reputation.

Loren Baker:

Exactly.

Navah Hopkins:

That’s terrible. All right. So this reminds me of a story. So there’s a conference Ad World. And what I found really interesting is that they’re promoting, and I won’t say who, but they’re promoting a speaker who some people see as negative, some people love. But what was really fascinating is that they were promoting this speaker. And to me, promoting it to me, it was actually a turn off. I wouldn’t want to go specifically because of that. And what was really interesting is how many people once I posted that post, jumped on the bandwagon. So hearing your story and then just thinking about that, it definitely drives the point home. You have to be very, very careful about what messaging you put out there and how much of a ripple effect XYZ thing is going to have.

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Navah Hopkins:

I would never put money behind a polarizing initiative unless I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, the people I was going to get on the positive would net me positive. There are social stances that are worth taking. is a great example of a brand that does this really well. They’ll stand on the side that they think is right. And they’re okay losing some business because they know that they’re going to get X amount more from the people that like that stance. So it’s interesting when a conference or when a brand picks a spokesperson to represent them, how much does that expose them to risk of negative reviews or expose them to the problem that you discussed. They’re basically paying to lose money.

Loren Baker:

Right. Right. And I still see that in ORM or anything else. It’s kind of interesting. There’s an expectation that there’s a quick fix for everything and not necessarily fixing what’s broken behind the scenes or behind the curtain. But like I said, let’s back up a little bit. You have an amazing picture of a dog behind you or a group of dogs. Is that your dog or-

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Navah Hopkins:

No. No. All right.

Loren Baker:

What’s the story behind it?

Navah Hopkins:

The story behind this wall, I am a anxiety ridden marketer. I am always working. I am hyper prone to burnout and stress and anxiety. My husband, lovely man that he is, decided to paint for me this super zen background. And then I have two dogs and they would like to rest their heads on that wooden sill. And so he got this $8 blanket from Walmart. Sorry for commercialism. But this is $8 pheasant blankets. It’s not just a blanket but my dogs will sometimes rest. I put them upstairs, they’re not going to be guest appearances. But you at least have some dogs from me.

Loren Baker:

If you ever want to catch up on dog art, check out Rob Snell’s Facebook accounts. I’m not sure if you’re connected to him or not, but he’s gone from being

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Navah Hopkins:

They are so cute.

Loren Baker:

Yes. Amazing. Okay. So now that you were at WordStream before, which is a SaaS and agency hybrid, I would say. Were you there before the USA Today acquisition-

Navah Hopkins:

Yes. So I was… WordStream had kind of errors. I would had the crossover between Larry King still being there to the acquisition, to the second acquisition. So I was there for five years. And one of the things that was really nice about WordStream is that you’re able to work with them being exposed to accounts that are not just, here’s this one industry in this one location. So when it comes to content and just the ability to see trends and to see where might the next thing be, I was able to get that sense of, okay, we need to really think about audiences, but certain countries, they’re not going to have them eligible.

Navah Hopkins:

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So what can we do to mitigate that? And what can we do from a targeting standpoint? What can we do from a creative standpoint? And then on the flip side for where we did have those tools, how are those playing out across the country? How are those playing out when agency applies them versus when a brand applies them? So it was just… The best thing WordStream, aside from the amazing colleagues I got to work with, did for me was the width and breadth of data. I think it’s the best gift I’ve gotten as a marketer is to have been exposed to that amount of data.

Loren Baker:

And now you’re at Justuno which is a D-to-C oriented and conversion rate optimization solution, right? Or customer experience solution. How would you define Justuno and then how would you define the differences in, I guess, industries? Because when I think of WordStream, I think of, well, I think of, I could be incredibly wrong, but I think of SMB-

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Loren Baker:

It could be incredibly wrong, but I think of SMB PPC management in mass. Lots of different companies, lots of different plumbers, lots of different industries, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and then the ability to hyper focus on one specific company and one specific company’s offering. So what are the differences? What exactly are you doing? And then, I guess, I’m also an anxiety ridden marketer, and I think working on the agency side for years, I just keep on throwing gasoline on the anxiety fire. So I would really like to hear how things are going with the ability to not focus on multiple clients, but focus on, I guess, the voice and the positioning of one company from an in-house perspective.

Navah Hopkins:

Sure. So one thing actually I recognized that helped me avoid, and this is not to say agency life means you’ll be anxiety ridden, but I figured out I am not meant to be agency. I am meant to be software. That’s what I’m good at. So at WordStream my role was to be this trifecta vessel that would take in where customers were getting stuck. I would look at accounts. I would help them troubleshoot. I would take that feedback back to our customer team, our product team, and then relay that feedback also to the ad platform so that they could see why were things being adopted or not, and then, of course, providing those trends.

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Navah Hopkins:

At Justino, what’s really fascinating is that Justino is a phenomenal CRO or conversion rate optimization platform mostly focusing with on page. But what’s really interesting is that they know how to communicate really, really well to a very specific narrative of that D to C e-commerce model. The application actually works really in any CRO capacity or conversion optimization. And I did an anecdotal study where I asked media folks, “What’s your interaction with CRO?” And across the board, “We want to do CRO, but it’s complicated.” And what I like about in this, and thank you for letting me shamelessly plugged Justino, by the way, that’s very, very kind of you, but what I like about Justino and why I found myself there is that it takes that very complex problem and simplifies it into automated functions, because that really is where we’re going, is what can we delegate out to machines in order to simplify our grunt work so that our creative work can do well?

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Navah Hopkins:

So I’m in the process of helping Justino message map their brand and their solution to the immediate industry while also helping them understand what feature sets will be useful to us, the pay media folks, what feature sets will be like, “Oh, we don’t care. No one’s going to need this,” and what can help those paid media folks bypass some of the pitfalls that are coming with first party data versus third party data, remarketing ideas, things like that? So I basically re-created the job that I really liked doing at WordStream at Justino because I believe in what Justino is doing for SMBs and agencies who serve them, but also there’s a problem with a lot of software companies that they rely heavily on service to mitigate software discrepancies.

Loren Baker:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Navah Hopkins:

I definitely see there’s a big opportunity here for that true hybrid like WordStream had. So that’s my long winded not prepared response to that question.

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Loren Baker:

It makes total sense. And this is not a sponsored podcast, by the way. I’m just really intrigued. There’s only so many points and there’s only been so many times, I guess, in the world of digital marketing where things are always changing but there’s certain pinnacles. So first I think of the dot com boom and bust. And then I think about like Google launching and the consolidation of search engines. And then I think about stuff that happened like after Penguin and Panda and making it harder to game Google from an SEO perspective, the launch PPC, et cetera, et cetera. And then, recently it’s really been D to C, especially the past year, especially with the pandemic, especially with the escalation of people choosing to buy directly from the brand as opposed to buying through Amazon or through Walmart or through another marketplace, whether it be eBay or whatever, the ability to buy direct. So I think we’re definitely in a boom right now, and it’s just really exciting to hear.

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Navah Hopkins:

I want to add one thing that I found really fascinating. If you look at the user trends for device behavior over the past year, we’re all still as marketers pushing, pushing, pushing for that mobile first index, that mobile first experience, but over this past year, we actually saw a 50/50 split in users on desktop versus mobile. Up until last year with COVID we all were, “All right, we’ve got to get our mobile in check. We’re got to get our mobile and check.” I am concerned that some brands have been so focused on getting their mobile in order that they’ve neglected their desktop experiences. And I think that’s one thing we can’t risk. We have to make sure that just as we’re getting mobile in order we’re not neglecting our desktop and having either slow load speeds or that the experience is just God awful. People can’t find what they’re looking for because we’re banking on everyone going to the really clean, amazing, beautiful mobile experience. So yeah, moral of the story, don’t get complacent.

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Loren Baker:

That’s true. You never know what’s going to happen. Suddenly people are going to stop commuting, stop looking at things on the train, stop doing this, stop doing that. Be stuck in the house, opening up the laptops a little bit more. Let’s talk a little bit about, you had alluded to this a bit earlier, landing pages, creative, YouTube ads, et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, when I think of PPC, I think of writing copy for AdWords right. I think of that little copy block and that’s it. But I also, haven’t done PPC in 15 years, so that explains why I think of it that way.

Navah Hopkins:

Google ads rebranded to solve that exact problem.

Loren Baker:

No more words.

Navah Hopkins:

Yeah. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Google ads still has search ads. That’s where a lot of their money comes from and that’s where a lot of people go first. What’s really fascinating though is that Google ads, as much as it’s a great solution, as a first solution, especially for SMBs, it’s getting more and more prohibitively expensive. And so if you look at, say a display campaign, a YouTube campaign, local service ads, those can be really, really powerful. You have just as much targeting control. You have just as much ability to really craft those amazing solutions. So I think where a lot of people will go to Google ads first and they’ll go for a search campaign first, and then they’ll get really bummed out that it was expensive and they couldn’t afford the critical mass that they needed in order to make it make them money.

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Navah Hopkins:

I think if folks were a little bit more honest about what their budget was, they’d have a more useful conversation. So for example, if you don’t have 5K, 10 K per month, granted there are exceptions, you probably don’t want to start with search. You probably want to start with a display targeted either contextually or with custom audiences or with customer match pushing your pre-qualifying information, inserting your brand into the conversation on relevant brands. YouTube has that beta ad builder. You can do six seconds, 15 seconds. And it’s absolutely free to sign up. You just have to have a Google ad account to link it to. And those ad spots are so cheap. It’s dirt cheap to get those ads inserted into those really useful conversations. And if you look at the creator market and you look at the content that’s out there, the brand equity of your message being inserted into the conversation, it’s very, very powerful.

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Navah Hopkins:

I think Google came out with a stat, I don’t know if it was this year or last year, but that 80% of all purchasing decisions that began on YouTube actually turn into a sale, that if you showed an ad to a user on YouTube, 80% turn into a sale. So if you haven’t thought about video and if you haven’t thought about YouTube ads as part of that conversion conversation, you’re missing out. They actually have an audience. This is the Google ad hack that I love. If you’ve invested a lot of effort into your brand from a content standpoint, you can actually take people who have watched your content, subscribed to your channel, and actually make that an audience for search. And so target exactly those folks. Follow up on the message that you put into that video ad.

Loren Baker:

Gotcha. Gotcha. So the video ads on YouTube are a very low level entry point that you can get into, but you can still very highly target an audience, just at a lower price point than the ability to follow up with search afterwards, because they’re probably searching for something that’s familiar. Because YouTube is TV, right?

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Navah Hopkins:

Yes.

Loren Baker:

I mean, that’s what it is. So you have the ability to run a TV commercial only to people that you want to target, which is pretty amazing.

Navah Hopkins:

Here’s the other thing, too. There are certain industries that are going to be so low search volume the critical mass of sales, it’s not going to be there no matter how much money you throw at it for search until you’ve built the audience, you’ve built the demand for what you do. And one other thing we’re thinking about just in terms of search, Google trends is my best friend for research and for beginning. Not because I necessarily am going to take verbatim the cost per click or the keywords that Google recommends, but it’s helpful to see where in the world or where in the country certain ideas are really powerful, and which ones not so much. And so if I’m looking to get those insights, that’s an incredibly powerful way to begin.

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Navah Hopkins:

But if I am seeing that there is nothing on Google trends, just nothing, I probably am going to do a display or YouTube campaign to start, not because I necessarily need to do visual content, but because there isn’t enough search volume for my ad to show. And so I’m going to sit there and be all frustrated and have a budget that’s not actually doing anything.

Loren Baker:

What about in the world of Facebook and Insta and other video platforms, even TikTok, similar opportunities available on those platforms?

Navah Hopkins:

1000%.

Loren Baker:

Okay.

Navah Hopkins:

I actually didn’t tweet about it this morning. Facebook and Instagram let you have your custom audiences from the get-go. Google still has that $50,000 minimum ad spend in order to use customer lists in your campaigns. So when it-

Navah Hopkins:

Customer lists in your campaigns. So when it comes to Facebook and Insta and TikTok, absolutely test, but you have to be very mindful that creative, infinitely, infinitely more important than when it comes to say a text ad. Because the text ads, you can tend to let them stay. You can prove out your message. You can allow for it to prove itself out. When it comes to the more visual bits of content, you actually have to refresh fairly regularly.

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Navah Hopkins:

So for example, if I know that I’m running a campaign on Facebook or Insta, or even TikTok, I’m going to have, when I’m building, probably a month to two months worth of one round of content per week or every two weeks, as opposed to where, in Google, I would just let a thing go.

Navah Hopkins:

So it’s that fundamental difference. So a marketer who’s really good at Google may actually let something run too long on the social channels, and someone who is really good on the social channels might abort a test too quickly when it comes to the more traditional search channels. So you just want to be mindful about how much content you need, but yes, the opportunities are there.

Loren Baker:

You bring up a good point. There is kind of a set it and forget it mentality that can happen from a like a paid search landing page perspective, “Okay, this thing’s working. Okay, let’s revisit it in the future,” whereas in video ads, especially Instagram, someone is probably going to see the ad multiple times. They’re probably going to click over multiple times.

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Navah Hopkins:

that frequency is more than three, you got to switch it out.

Loren Baker:

You got to switch it out. And, from an experience perspective, they’re also looking at the in-app browser, right?

Navah Hopkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Loren Baker:

Which is probably, from my experience with clicking on Instagram ads, it’s probably going to serve a much different experience than a normal browser experience. So I would think that you’d have to… I’ve clicked over to some sites where just everything is completely off from just a format perspective, like on the site, right? CSS is off and everything else.

Navah Hopkins:

Oh my God. All right. So Justuno, Unbounce, Insta page, I think also does this, there are options to have mobile-specific versions of your landing page promo what have you. You need to make sure that you’re doing those. If you just count on whatever you built in desktop to carry over, I promise you it will look ugly. And your numbers will be all over the place. You will have a terrible experience and someone will bounce. However, if you build from the mobile experience and you try to carry that over to desktop, odds are it’s going to shrink down, and so it will look just as bad. So you really want to make sure that you’re carving out the time and the budget to have a mobile-specific path and a desktop-specific path.

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Navah Hopkins:

Tablets, I’m sorry, tablets, they don’t necessarily need their own, unless you’re a very specific brand that sees the tablet traffic is just where it’s at

Loren Baker:

Yeah.

Navah Hopkins:

But I would a thousand percent recommend, at the very least, whenever you’re about to start a new campaign, carve out that mobile-specific experience, the concepts that you’re counting on, the audiences that you’re counting on, landing page creative, and then vice versa on the desktop. You want to make sure that you have that experience.

Loren Baker:

Yeah, tablets are a world of their own. I’ve seen consecutively for the past three years, tablet percentage usage goes down around the winter holidays because people that got tablets, like your grandparents maybe or your kids years ago, are now having them replaced with phones and not tablets, right? So every time there is a gift-giving holiday, the tablet usage just goes down because it’s time to buy grandma a new phone instead of her tablet, time to upgrade the kids, et cetera, et cetera. So, yeah, goodbye tablets, so long.

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Loren Baker:

And let’s not like underestimate the ability that targeting via Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and all of these video ads have, right?

Navah Hopkins:

I have a rule, and the social folks may want to debate this, happy to have the discussion, if I see a campaign where the ads are targeting both Instagram and Facebook together, I’m fairly confident that was either set up by an owner who didn’t have the time, or someone who’s just getting into Facebook and/or Instagram advertising.

Navah Hopkins:

A thousand percent you want to make sure that you have at the very least an ad set per Facebook versus Instagram because the content is going to be formatted differently. The messaging is going to be different. So even if you have them living under the same campaign and you want it to be influenced by those same rules, you still are going to want to make sure that you at least have it separated at the ad set level.

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Loren Baker:

Got you. That makes total sense. I was thinking of a… I get a lot of ads on Instagram for t-shirts and stuff like that. There’s like-

Yeah, there’s a t-shirt company. I think it’s called Super Bear or Super Ape something. It went public today. I got to look it up, but all they do is sell $50 t-shirts, right? They sell $50 t-shirts with a licensed name. They buy the rights to use like Muhammad Ali’s likeness or name or Bruce Lee’s likeness or name, and then they sell these t-shirts that are pretty nice, but they’re also very pricey, and they’ve been doing it like crazy. And then suddenly they go public. I’m like, what? A t-shirt company that’s always advertising on Instagram is going public? That’s amazing. So it’s nothing to-

Navah Hopkins:

I’ve kind of fallen victim to Merchoid. If you ever see me wearing that Mary Mandalorian sweater, that is a hundred percent a Facebook ad that followed me around. And I’m just like, “You know what? I’m worth it. I am worth that $50 sweater.”

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Loren Baker:

Well, I’m not going to go to the store and buy a boring $50 shirt or $20 shirt when I can buy a cool Bruce Lee shirt.

Navah Hopkins:

Exactly.

Loren Baker:

Or, for $19.99, I can even get a really nice SEJ shirt at merch.searchenginejournal.com, which is super comfy. And I’ve had this for like… I’ve washed this shirt probably 50 times already. So it’s still holding up.

Navah Hopkins:

I realize now that we’re halfway slash most of the way through this, that this was a completely missed opportunity to wear the meta-data shirt. That is my absolute favorite shirt that you guys have done. If it’s still available and people can buy it, you should because it’s fantastic.

Loren Baker:

Yeah, no problem. We might rerelease that in the future. We’ll see. I’m pushing for some gold foil ones. So we’ll see what happens on that front. Ad platforms and first party data, first party data used to be a thing. Is it a thing? Can we get ahold of that anymore? Is it hidden still? What’s on that front?

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Navah Hopkins:

So just to break things down, first party data has always been a thing and will continue to be a thing. The ad platforms are all in on first party data because that is how they can comply with increasing pressure to abide by privacy regulations, so on and so forth. If you are currently eligible to use customer match, custom audiences today, the likelihood that you will continue to be able to and potentially have increased usability is a hundred percent in favor moving forward into the future. It’s third-party data that is going away.

Navah Hopkins:

One thing I’m very grateful, Ginny Marvin, who’s Google Ads’ liaison, she was able to confirm that brands who maybe have vanity domains, so say, for example, we have Search Engine Journal and SEJ and searchenginejournalshow.com, and you have all three, in the old world, all three could share data no problem, no questions asked. In today’s world, you will have to confirm a five set, or five domain set to count as first party data. That’s incredibly important coming from the standpoint of brands that maybe service multiple countries, where you maybe have some domains for paid media efforts, where maybe you have an agency managing some parts of your brand and you’re managing other parts.

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Navah Hopkins:

So the biggest takeaway that folks should have is not that, “Oh my God, campaigns are going to suck,” but you need to start being friends with your tech SEOs and really come up with a game plan now for how do you want to migrate. So one of the things that… Or I’ve always cited on sub-domains for paid media landing pages because it’s a way to protect the main domain, but-

You’re a still technically under there. There may come a time when we have to just be part of a sub-directory that’s just no index, no follow. That might be a thing. So we just need to start having those conversations with our tech SEO friends, make sure that we come up with kind of a style guide of what do our paid media experiences look like, what do our organic experiences look like. On page promotions may start to become more popular amongst paid media folks, simply because you want to create an experience that’s specifically focused on generating that conversion before the user hits maybe the wall of text or all of the navigation that, as a paid media professional, you might be afraid of.

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Navah Hopkins:

So it’s not that we’re suddenly going to be bad at marketing, it’s just that we have to take the technical steps to be prepared.

Loren Baker:

And make sure you’re underneath the main domain, right? Like it’s nice to be in the sub-domain, it’s nice from an SEO perspective just no index that whole sub-domain.

Navah Hopkins:

Well, the sub-domain should be no index if it’s just for paid media, because this is… So paid media folks are going to want to do variable testing, where we might have the exact same block of text with one word swapped out. That’s an SEO’s nightmare. We might need no navigation bar whatsoever, and that could be terrible if you need that for crawlability.

Navah Hopkins:

So this is where we have to start having those conversations about what is a reasonable experience as a baseline and what are the tools that we can use to bypass where we might fight over user experience. I think experiences are going to become more popular as this rolls out and as we get more information about exactly how many domains we can have moving forward, because we currently have that five, but it could change. But as it stands now, some domains still can be part of your strategy. You just need to make sure that you don’t have like 50 domains.

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Loren Baker:

Right. Right. No, that makes total sense. And yeah, I’ve worked on a number of campaigns where you come in and do SEO, and probably the most important thing you can do is cleaning up PPC landing pages, PPC sub-folders or sub-domains or whatever that no one ever blocked them, right? Or they used a tool like click funnels or something like that and left it on and didn’t pay. So now suddenly there’s an error on your click funnels sub-domain, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There’s all kinds of stuff that you see happening, right? And all of that does affect Google at the end of the day, especially if they’ve ever had the ability to access any of those pages, right?

Loren Baker:

I do like the ability to kind of mind-meld though between SEO and PPC, and especially a lot of what you were just talking about. So-

Loren Baker:

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DO and PPC and especially a lot of what you were just talking about. So taking up a nav bar, using a navigation bar or not sidebar. Sidebar can be an SEO’s best friend. You can put links there, you can put featured posts there that you want to get more juice to. You can put different things here, but a sidebar can cripple a PPC campaign because people just get suddenly so distracted with things-

Navah Hopkins:

And links off the page, we want them to convert on. It’s terrible.

Loren Baker:

Yeah, it’s the exact opposite.

Navah Hopkins:

Yeah, exactly. So if there’s one takeaway from this discussion, set aside 30 minutes to powwow between your SEO and PPC teams, just get them pow-wowing. One ray of hope, I think that exists is that a lot of how Google ads certifications function with search console and also Google data studio, a lot of those reports will pull in the same information. So as you’re able to start sending, say, search term data over to your SEO team so that they can see what ideas have converted, where content strategy can be improved and vice versa, what content strategies maybe do we have to pass on because it’s going to be too expensive or we need it now.

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Navah Hopkins:

We can’t wait for six, eight months to rank. That can be a value add, just hey, this is something important to the client. Let’s get our names up there, but the actual technical infrastructure, my prediction is that SEOs are going to be having a big headache around June or July when the migrations potentially start happening to actually start consolidating landing pages and domains. We’ll see. I could be a pessimist, but that’s…

Loren Baker:

Well, it gives us SEOs something to do. Nothing better than a campaign that’s completely cleaned up. You’ve gained lots of ground. You’re identifying new growth channels, but then suddenly, someone comes and breaks everything. It’s just like, yes, back to work. Done. Thank you PPC team for doing that.

Navah Hopkins:

We’ll break all your stuff. It’ll be great.

Loren Baker:

Exactly. So the one question that kind of led us to our talk today was retargeting, and we’ve actually talked about retargeting a lot in the past 40 minutes or so, but is it dead? Is it something that can continue? What’s going on with the world of retargeting right now?

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Navah Hopkins:

So retargeting off of what I like to call either creepy or dumb retargeting, as in someone landed on the page and you follow them around, yes, that is going to start being depreciated. What is not going to be depreciated is the first party data relationships where you are able to target off of that customer list, customer match list that is still eligible for display, that is still eligible for YouTube, that is still eligible for shopping, obviously still eligible for search. That is still an option for you. So as much as you can, make friends with your CRO and email marketing teams and begin building those experiences. There are a ton of tools out there that will auto-sync, just happens to be one of them, your emails that you generate from whatever promotions, whatever initiatives that you do into the ad platform. So whatever tool sets that you’re looking at, definitely be sure that you’re looking for that syncability.

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Navah Hopkins:

That’s mission critical in today’s world. The other piece to retargeting is that we are no longer going to be these individuals. We’re going to be part of cohorts. The fundamental difference between the website visitor and the cohort is just, I know exactly that person went to my site and saw this thing versus I know that this person expressed interest in this thing, this thing, and this thing happened to have these behaviors, but it’s not associated with that specific person. The best way to actually think about this is in market audiences, audiences that you’re targeting around the idea of someone’s past behaviors without the creep factor that you’re following them around specifically, and we have seen that there is better performance off of folks in either those sorts of cohorts or where they consented to give you their information. So you’re having a consensual conversation as opposed to, I’m going to go harass you until you buy my thing, or I annoy you into my competitor’s arms.

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Loren Baker:

Or you harass me after I’ve already bought the product as well and then I don’t want to use the product anymore and I see ads.

Navah Hopkins:

There is a use case though that a lot of people forget to actually remind customers once they’re up for renewals to buy their stuff or to target specifically your competitors with those people so that if your people are looking at your competitors, insert yourself in that conversation. Remind them that there are feature sets that that maybe are worth me revisiting. One of my actually favorite examples of this, I got re-targeted to buy the Star Wars MMO because I haven’t logged in in five months, and my auto renew is coming due in eight days and amazing.

Loren Baker:

That’s pretty smart.

Navah Hopkins:

Great job, Star Wars, but not enough brands do that. So if you have the list, if you have those at least a thousand people in the list, don’t be afraid to remind your customers that you have value.

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Loren Baker:

That’s awesome. I love it. I love it. And then another thing we were talking about before the show as well is I know sometimes I feel more like a lead gen company that utilizes SEO as a channel than an SEO company that tries leads because over the past, definitely over the past year, it’s been a lot of emphasis on post-click. What happens afterwards, CRO, conversion rates, how to get this traffic into the funnel. It’s not just about ranking on page one anymore. It’s not even just about getting the clicks from the targeted ranking on page one anymore. It’s about what happens after the fact, which I believe as an SEO is my responsibility. My responsibility is not just to drive organic traffic, but from Google and Bing and-

Navah Hopkins:

Well, you’re also a really nice, ethical, amazing person.

Loren Baker:

Thank you.

Navah Hopkins:

So I think that’s going to be the difference between which brands survive and which i.e. agencies survive versus don’t. Customers are demanding it. They’re not going to settle for the ego metric if someone is willing to commit to being a partner to them and actually drive revenue, but that also requires that the customer, and we kind of touched on this at the beginning, has those business metrics in mind. I think one thing I’ve seen a lot of brands struggle with is actually be able to answer the question, how many leads are you currently generating and where could that number grow to without any operational change.

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Navah Hopkins:

Or what is your average customer value? In e-commerce, it’s super easy because the number’s right there, but in lead gen a lot of folks struggle. So one way I think we marketers can add value is actually coaching the brands on how to think about those business conversations so we can be partners and coming up with KPIs. I just don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a brand to come up with the KPIs on their own and it’s not reasonable for us to do it on our own. It has to be a partnership.

Loren Baker:

And it has to be after a certain amount of time as well. Yes. Yeah. I’m not very comfortable with sending over expected KPIs as part of a, well, RFP response or proposal or something like that before I’ve actually worked with the company and had the chance to get into the backend and see how things-

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Navah Hopkins:

And if they demand it, that’s rotten. Don’t worry them.

Loren Baker:

Yeah. If I can get behind and see how the sausage is made or whatever, then it’s fine and that’s part of the onboarding experience as well. It should be for everybody. Nav, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much. Just as a reminder, Navah is a columnist at SEJ. She answers all of the great PPC questions on the ask a PPC column, which how often is that published, by the way?

Navah Hopkins:

So it’s officially once a month, but every once in a while, we’ll sneak in an extra one. If you, the people, would like more, we’re happy to do more, but currently, it’s once a month at the beginning of the month.

Loren Baker:

Excellent. Excellent. I dropped your Twitter in here and your LinkedIn as well as a link to Justuno. Is there anywhere else folks can follow you or find you online?

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Navah Hopkins:

So my dog HK has an Instagram handle PPCpuppy where I will share PPC advice from the perspective of HK because you don’t want to listen to me. You want to listen to my adorable puppy. You also can check out my Twitter, LinkedIn. I’m always happy to share things there. I’ll share a couple of things on Facebook. If you want to message me, I’m happy to help, and again, just submit your questions to the ask the PPC on SEJ, where we love helping people. We love answering questions. It’s always a good time.

Loren Baker:

Your dog’s name is HK47.

Navah Hopkins:

Yes. After the Star Wars character. He is my absolute favorite droid, absolute favorite droid.

Loren Baker:

Wait, which one is that because I just thought it was cool because it sounds like AK47.

Navah Hopkins:

And I am sorry, not sorry for the spoilers because it’s been years is Darth Revan’s droid. He built him much like Anakin built C3PO except unlike C3PO, HK47 is a snarky, amazing assassin who will just, he’s a great party member, but more importantly, the conversation is just fantastic. He does lean dark side so for those of you that prefer the light and the Jedi, he might not be your cup of tea, but he is a very, very amazing character.

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Loren Baker:

Who roots for the Jedi? Gosh, the only time I root for the Jedi was in the Empire Strikes Back.

Navah Hopkins:

I don’t know. People that are still innocent enough to believe that there’s black and white.

Loren Baker:

Okay, there you go. Cool. And I’m sure HK47 is going to show up on Disney plus sometime soon as well. I see it’s a nice and the old Republic so we’ll see. Navah, again, it’s been a pleasure.

Navah Hopkins:

Thank you for having me.

Loren Baker:

Learned so much talking not just about PPC, YouTube ads, affordable paid media, the importance of display, but also a little bit of the business of PPC, CRO and SEO at the end of the day, which I think we can tap into a lot more in the future. So thank you so much for getting that conversation going and getting those gears turning within my skull.

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Navah Hopkins:

Thanks for having me. Cheers guys. Have a good one. Bye.

Loren Baker:

Okay. Bye-bye

 

 


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