Harnessing The Power of First-Party Data for PPC
What is first-party data?
First-party data is company-owned customer data and information that is collected directly by that company. It can be sourced from a company’s website, mobile apps, email and SMS marketing, Google Analytics, call centers, customer service, and sales teams plus more.
The data that can be collected ranges from behaviors, interactions, and calls to more eCommerce-focused metrics like purchase history, revenue, and conversion rates.
Why should I care?
Well, there are a few reasons.
Due to data privacy changes made by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) impacting third-party data, and with Google putting an end to third-party cookie use in late 2022 harnessing the power of first-party data in PPC will be more important than ever when it comes to paid search optimization.
In the past, Google has stated “we believe first-party data is poised to play an important role in the future of digital advertising.” This statement, combined with 92% of leading digital marketers believing using first-party data is critical to growth and understanding what people want makes first-party data an important PPC trend that is hard to ignore. [Source: Google/Econsultancy, “An Audience of Individuals”, 2017]
Additionally, first-party data is considered the best form of data over second and third-party data due to its high quality and specificity which is key for successful paid search ad campaigns.
The pricing for first-party data is also an attractive feature. Since the data is collected in-house, it is less expensive overall. This can help agencies free up money that could be funneled back into paid search budgets. These extra funds can also be used to expand into SEO and/or other ad platforms and paid media including social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and/or Facebook advertising.
Most importantly, it is no secret that Google Ads is moving quickly towards more machine learning and automation like smart bidding strategies and responsive search ads. Google often recommends using smarting bidding strategies like Maximize Conversions, Target ROAS, and Target CPA to name a few in their platform. Additionally, Google is ending the use of expanded text ads in mid-2022; only allowing for the creation and editing of responsive search ads moving forward.
This algorithm-based AI learning paired with first-party data gives paid advertisers and digital marketers the ability to enhance and improve everything from audience targeting and user experience on the website to revenue, conversions, and conversion rates.
However, this burgeoning new trend leaves most digital marketers and PPC advertisers wondering: “How do I incorporate first-party data into my paid search marketing strategy?”
How does it work?
Before adding first-party data into a paid search strategy there are a few big picture things to know first.
The first thing to know is that the reach of the data is smaller compared to second or third-party data sources. However, since it’s collected in-house the accuracy and uniqueness of your company will help to customize campaigns and help to create the most relevant ads for your target audience(s).
The next, and more important, thing to know is that integrating the data is key. Without integration, the first-party data customer data is usually spread across different web analytics platforms and is also usually stored in a CRM system as well. Connecting the CRM back to Google Analytics will be imperative to use the collected first-party data points in the most meaningful way.
Luckily, this can be done in a variety of different ways. One way is by adding user ID labels in the CRM system itself. Another way, the easiest way, is using a data connector tool like GA connector that will work with CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot to link up to Google Analytics.
Once this is complete, a set of custom goals can be created in Google Analytics to use in Google Ads that will give real-time insight into consumer behavior and actions that occur after an initial interaction, purchase, or conversion has taken place.
Once this is set up, accurate bidding will need to be put into place. Again, Google smart bidding like Maximize Conversions, Target ROAS, and Target CPA is recommended for multiple campaign types and ad formats. Doing this allows for deeper campaign performance analysis and lets advertisers adjust the smart bidding targets to get better results for the business’s ROAS or bottom line.
Finally, letting offline and post-conversion metrics and data collected from the PPC campaigns is important as well. This data will then further inform the smart bidding conversion strategies allowing them to learn and further optimize.
For example, phone calls are probably the biggest and most frequent offline conversion. Getting first-party data through the use of call tracking software will allow for keyword-level analysis into offline sales or leads generated by phone calls.
All of this combined will allow for your data to be used to curate improved eCommerce customer personas that can be used to help craft messaging and reach customers most likely to convert.
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How can I use the data?
Aside from letting the first-party data influence automation, there are a variety of ways paid search advertisers can use the data to improve their campaigns.
The first is campaign relevance and messaging. First-party data provides intimate knowledge to a business’s customers and can help an advertiser divide them into specific groups.
Then, through tailored campaign experiences such as serving dynamic remarketing ads to cart abandoners or video ads showcasing certain products/messaging to specific target audiences advertisers can more directly influence conversions.
Another popular application of first-party data is writing better and more personalized ad copy. With first-party data providing insights into customers’ preferences and previous interactions with the business/brand, PPC advertisers can tailor their campaigns ad copy to the intended target audiences throughout their customer journey.
Brand awareness can also be influenced by first-party data sets and optimized by advertisers by creating custom lookalike or in-market audiences and serving them tailored ads.
First-party data can also be used by PPC experts to improve their eCommerce shopping feeds by manually improving titles and descriptions based on collected data. For example, adding keyword-rich text descriptions into the feed using the top converting keywords for a given period.
Beyond the Basics
As the paid advertising landscape continues to change with regulations from the GDPR being created, Google ending third-party cookie use, and automation becoming key to strategy in Google Ads the understanding and incorporation of first-party cannot be understated.
By using this data, PPC professionals can go beyond basic demographic and audience targeting and serve campaigns and ads to the right audience at the right time with the right message based on a variety of signals.
As with anything Google Ads-related, there is a steep learning curve to understanding how to integrate, analyze and incorporate findings into a paid search strategy. However, with the proper resources and time investment, the data sets can be utilized in efficient and meaningful ways.