13 03, 2018

Remarketing & Enrollment: Why it Works for Colleges & Universities

By | 2018-03-15T15:01:43+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, PPC|Tags: , , , |

If you’re reading this article, you probably have at least a basic understanding of how remarketing works. For those who do not, remarketing ads identify those with a predisposition towards your product and nudge them to buy (or take some action).

Here’s the scenario: A user visits the admissions page for AGU (Amazingly Great University). Since AGU runs a remarketing campaign through Google, a cookie is placed that identifies the user after he or she leaves said website. The ad may be an enticement to request a course catalog, arrange for a campus visit or any number of desirable actions. As they visit other websites, your remarketing ads remind them of their initial interest and what they found compelling about your school.

Conversion rates tend to be greater with remarketing ads as the subject or target has already shown a familiarity with your school or interest in your product (an education). And the numbers say that the reminder, the subtle nudge often does the trick. Ultimately, they come back for more.

What makes Remarketing more effective for Higher Ed?

In the world of Higher Ed, the sales funnel is a protracted one. Leads must be nurtured over time as the selection of a college or university is a decision of great magnitude and has so many moving parts. It’s not something we typically do impetuously.

Remarketing campaigns appeal to a more deliberate decision making process. They can tactfully remind the potential student of the things they may have found attractive about your school or even entice a prospect to look elsewhere if your ad strategy is faulty.

Segmentation & Remarketing Strategy for Higher Ed

Segmenting your audience is the first step on the way to developing a sound remarketing strategy. Since Google enables you to target viewers based on a number of behaviors (users who visited your site or just a specific page, took a particular action, etc.), you can develop a tiered strategy based on these audiences. For example, your remarketing pitch may have a different message for those who visit your tuition and costs page as opposed to those who spend time perusing the course catalog for your school of business. Intent based segmentation can yield great results.

You’ll likely want to target your prospects by geography, too. Campus visits are easier to get if the prospect is within a reasonable travel radius, for example. Facebook offers remarketing that enables geographical targeting, too. So Facebook remarketing becomes an option for this group.

For all groups, set frequency limits for your remarketing ads. Hit them too hard and you may alienate them.

Test Your Ad Copy

Use A/B testing to determine your most effective ad copy. Try using different copy, CTA’s, and ad placements. Even after settling on a successful campaign method and copy, change the design from time to time as ads can become stale or fade into the background after a while.

What You Need to Know About Higher Ed Remarketing

Still got questions? Beacon is one of the premier digital marketing firms for Higher Ed and we’d love the opportunity to show you why. Feel free to contact me directly or give the DMS team at Beacon a call to discuss your institution and enrollment. I’d love to talk strategy with you and suggest a course of action tailored to your specific student audience(s).


19 07, 2017

How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

By | 2017-07-19T12:10:28+00:00 July 19th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , , , |

Google Data Studio is a great tool for those who need frequent, consistent and timely reporting, but there is an important feature currently unavailable in Data Studio — “PDF exporting.”  But do not fret, my fellow Google Data Studio users. There is a way to take that multi-page Data Studio report and export it as a single PDF file!

Google Data Studio PDF Export

If you have Google Chrome, you can export all of your Google Data Studio Report’s pages into a single PDF by downloading the free Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio.

How to Export a Multiple-Page Data Studio Report to PDF

Step 1.  Click the link below to be redirected to the Google Chrome web store installation page for the Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio. ~ if the link is not working, copy and paste the link at the end of this post into your chrome browser. 

Click here to go to the extension

Step 2.  Reload (or open) the Data Studio Report you wish to Export to PDF and there will be a new option in the report header.  The picture below is a comparison of the task bar without the chrome extension (top image) and the task bar with the chrome extension (bottom image). ~ Note: you must be in the ‘view mode’ in order for the option to appear.

Export to PDF option in Google Data Studio

Step 3.  Click on the ‘Export to PDF’ option to begin exporting your report, wait a few seconds per page as each page downloads. The time it takes to begin exporting varies, but  if the report does not begin to export, click on the thumbnail icon in the chrome extensions area of the toolbar but instead of selecting ‘Export to PDF’,  select ‘Clear Cache’ the option (pictured below), then try exporting it again.

GDS Export to PDF solution

Step 4.  After the document has been downloaded, a pop-up window will appear with a black and white version of the report—the report’s color will be restored after changing the destination. In the window, change the ‘Destination’ of the file to ‘Save as PDF’ (pictured below). Save Data Studio Report as PDF

Step 5.  Click Print to save the report to a location of your choice.

Chrome Extension Link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-data-studio-pdf-ex/cmbgpgjhibpioljmaaocdommnggpecje

1 03, 2016

Google’s New SERP Layout: How It Affects You

By | 2017-07-20T09:10:42+00:00 March 1st, 2016|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , , , |

What Happened With The SERPS?

Starting February 18th, Google issued a worldwide roll-out of a ad placement format: 4 paid ads will now display on top of desktop SERPs (search engine results pages), instead of the usual 3. In addition, they are also removing paid ads on the right-hand side of SERPs with the bottom of the SERPs featuring 3 paid ads. These changes, once fully rolled out, will be active across all languages. This change isn’t completely unexpected as Google has been testing their four-ads format for months now, but we should be seeing the changes take a more permanent effect in the next few weeks. The one constant amid all of these changes are the Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which will remain atop the SERPS or on the now free right-hand side.

How Does The SERP Change Affect Me?

In the industry, speculation abounds as to what effect these changes will have on:


  • Paid Search Cost: One of the main concerns from the change has been how much more expensive will clicks become with fewer ad spaces. Will advertisers with smaller budgets not be able to compete and fade away? SO far, the results don’t show this is the case. According to different early case studies, CPCs haven’t shown any increase and some industry experts argue that the increase in ad inventory at the top of the page will drive down CPCs.

new organic results

  • Organic Visibility: Another cause for concern has been that organic listing #1 is now paid ad #4. This means organic results and organic top-performers have been pushed down the page and lose visibility. Organic real estate has been shrinking for years, thanks to features such as news, images, videos, local/map packs, the Knowledge Graph, new ad formats and features like hotel/flight search. The conclusion is that results have not changed enough to start worrying or make drastic changes but if you have third-party tools or SEO management platforms to monitor position changes, you should make use of them to stay ahead of any new changes.


  • Product Listing Ads: One of the biggest gains from the SERP change came in the form of Google Shopping Ads. Product listing ads and the knowledge panel are the only listings that will appear in on the right, beside the top four paid search ads. Early results suggest that the retained position on the right-hand side is helping the PLAs attract a slightly higher CTR as well as a larger share of the paid clicks from the SERP. If you currently have PLAs, take advantage of them by expanding your product groups and enjoy the new exposure until competition creeps in. If you aren’t taking advantage of PLAs and have shopping feeds, work with your developer and/or marketing team to create a Merchant Center account and tap into this prime retail space. 


  • Search Volume: Many marketers have been concerned that fewer ads above the fold and SERPs would translate into decreased impressions and search volume. Although some paid search users have complained of fewer impressions and clicks it seems to be more of an issue of seasonality and normal shopping cycle than the SERP change. For marketers that focus on the spots 3-4, most have been the biggest winners from the SERP change as impressions and clicks went through the roof especially at the 3rd position (some are seeing CTR double or triple). The good news is the right-hand ad positions and bottom of the page ads accounted for less than 15% of click volume before the new changes so the true impact isn’t as great as some marketers will lead you to believe.

In Summary

The SERP change in February 2016 shook up the digital marketing world as do all global changes Google makes with search engine results pages. The biggest winners from the SERP change were most paid search advertisers especially those advertisers in position number 3 followed distantly by those in the brand new position 4. Position 3 advertisers saw click-through rates increase over 20% while position 4 saw increases up to 15% in click-through rate. The biggest losers were advertisers in positions 5-11. Those unfortunate enough to remain in these positions or to be bumped down to positions 5-11 have seen significant loss of impression share and total click volume due to be evicted from the right-hand SERPs.

It is still unknown whether organic results will win or lose as data is inconclusive and more case studies need to be performed. Due to just moving down one more position and possibly moving under the fold, organic listing businesses may see drops in search volume and website sessions. If you are high-ranking in organic currently, look to your digital agency or marketing team to find third-party tools or SEO-management platforms to help monitor position increases and decreases over the next 30 days.


14 09, 2015

How to Track Adwords Sitelink Extensions

By | 2018-09-14T15:36:55+00:00 September 14th, 2015|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Sitelinks Google

Do you use sitelink extensions in your Google Adwords Account? If so, how do you track how they are doing in Google Analytics? Did you know they are not automatically tagged like ads are and therefore in order to see their performance in GA, you have to do a couple things different with them?

Here are the steps that I take in order to track site extensions.

How To Set Up Tracking

After speaking to a Google rep, I learned that the only way to track sitelink extension visits to your website is to send the visitor to unique landing pages. When I say unique, I mean landing pages that are not used in text ads or display ads. Users only get to these pages from sitelinks.

Here is an example of one way to set it up:

Text ad – Final URL: /home

Display Ad – Final URL: /womens

Sitelink – Final URL: /pro-weight/

How To View Results in Google Analytics

Alright – so now your sitelink has a unique URL so it’s time to find visit information from that URL in GA. In order to do that, you’re going to need to pull up the Campaigns report under Acquisition. In the left hand menu in GA, go to Acquisition>Campaigns>All Campaigns.

Once in that screen, you’ll want to use an advanced segment so click on +Add Segment at the top of the page and then search for “paid”.

Paid Traffic Segment

Now you should only be seeing campaign results for paid traffic. Now click on “Secondary Dimension” and add Landing Page. Now your chart should show Campaign in the first column then Landing Page in the next. In order to see your sitelink landing page sessions, you’re going to need to use an advanced filter.

To do this, click on “edit” next to the search bar and then choose, Include>Landing Page>Containing>PageURL. (In our case this would be /pro-weight) Then click Apply. 

Advanced Filter

Now that the filter has been applied. You should only see your PPC Campaigns and the sitelink landing page as shown below.


As a reminder – If your sitelinks use the same URL as any other ad in your Adword campaigns, this filtering method will NOT work. The sitelink must have a unique URL in order for this to work.

So Tell Me..

Is this the same method you use to see Sitelink performance in Google Analytics or have you found a different way to track performance from sitelinks?

23 04, 2015

Google AdWords Upgraded URLs: A Quick Guide

By | 2017-06-16T12:22:18+00:00 April 23rd, 2015|Categories: PPC|Tags: |


In February, Google announced a major change to how landing page URLs will be managed in AdWords. If you manually tag your URLs, listen up!

Old Way:             Landing Page URL + Tracking Parameters = Destination URL.

Since your tracking code and landing page URL are combined, any change in tracking code sends your ad into editorial review, where Google has to crawl each altered URL and re-approve your ad. This becomes problematic in terms of data loss and time ads spend under review.

The solution? Upgraded URLs!

With upgraded URLs, the landing page URL and the tracking parameters that currently make up the destination URL will be separated. The landing page will become what is now dubbed “Final URL” and your tracking parameters will be handled separately in a “Tracking Template”. This improved URL management will not only make updates to tracking code easier, it will reduce the number of times Google needs to crawl your ad’s landing pages.

Upgraded:          Landing Page URL = Final URL

                                Tracking Parameters = Tracking Template

Google has given us a deadline of July 1st 2015 to upgrade to the new URL structure, otherwise your account will be automatically converted.

How it’s done:

Before you being making changes, I suggest you become familiar with Google’s Upgrade Guide.

Tracking templates are where you enter your tracking information and any custom parameters you may want to use. You have the ability to scale these template updates across several URLs without resetting your ad. In these tracking templates you’ll use ValueTrack parameters to define what elements you want tracked.

First you need to identify which ValueTrack parameters you want to include in your template. You’ll find the full set of options here. Custom parameters can also be added. So if you want to tag your URLs with a promotion, you might set a custom parameter {_promo} with a value of “BOGO”. You can set up to three custom parameters.

The templates can be applied at various levels within your account, but the most specific level of tracking will be applied to the ad. This means if you have a campaign level and an ad level tracking template, the ad level tracking will override the campaign level template for that ad. To maximize efficiency I recommend creating a template at the highest level possible.

Note: Changes to tracking templates at the ad level will remove the existing ad and re-submit a new one for review.

Now What?

Although all the updates are in place within the AdWords web interface, AdWords Editor has not yet been updated to support upgraded URLs. If you use Editor I highly recommend holding off until the next release comes out. This will ensure nothing falls through the cracks when posting changes from Editor.

Now that you have all the information you need to upgrade, you can begin to make a plan as to how you will go about switching over. Be mindful of the data loss that will occur when you make the switch. If you have questions or need help with your AdWords account, contact us today!




15 07, 2011

Beacon Technologies Through the Eyes of an Intern – Week 9

By | 2017-08-15T16:15:16+00:00 July 15th, 2011|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , , , |

Week 9 was good.  I spent this week really diving into marketing Beacon.  The bulk of what I did this week involved making sure things were up to date or set up correctly.  I ensured that the local listings for Beacon were correct in directories like Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local.  Once I was done with that, I worked on setting on some goal funnels in GA to track conversions for Beacon’s contact form.  I set up the funnel to track if the contact form was filled out from a specific page.  The other updating I did was related to the special offer page for the current promotion Beacon will be running.  This didn’t involve creating anything on the page, but rather making sure links worked correctly on the page and that links from other pages pointed to the correct special offer page.

Along with that work, I spent a large amount of time working on a PPC campaign for the special offer.  This was really fun.  I got to manipulate the keywords for ad groups within the campaign to try to ensure that the ads were associated with the right keywords to improve the quality score of the keywords.  The better the quality score, the more likely the ad will appear in related searches.  There were close to 20 ad groups that I focused on for this campaign.  After looking over the previous statistics, I tweaked the copy of the ads for each ad group to hopefully be more effective.  I also wrote one or two new ads for each ad group.  If you don’t know already, the ads have a limited number of characters for each line.  There are four lines in each ad.  The headline, line 1, line 2, and the display URL.  The headline and the limits you to 25 characters and the other three lines limit you to 35 characters each.  Here is an example to help visualize what I had to work with.

This equals 25 characters

This is the length of 35 characters

Here is a new set of 35 characters.


It seems like it would be easy to get your point across in that amount of space since you have 70 characters for the “meat” of the “sandwich”, but considering my second line was a predetermined mentioning of the special offer, I really only had 35 characters to deliver the message.  I was able to make the headline whatever I wanted to help get the message out there.  Also, the display URL can more or less be whatever you want.  It doesn’t have to be a valid URL.  It is meant to help convince people to click on the ad.  The ad is pointing to a real URL of your choosing in the background.

In addition to writing and editing ads, I was given the freedom to determine the best geographical area to target with the ads, I was able to give input on the daily budget of the campaign, and I got to learn about and set up some A/B testing within the campaign.  A/B testing is where you run two almost identical ads or websites or etc. and see which outperforms the other.  Once you get enough data you stop the less effective one and move on to testing the winner versus another small change.  Hopefully I’ll be able to see some results before the end of my internship.  If not I’ll have to check back in to find out how it’s going.

17 06, 2011

Time Saving Features in Adwords Editor: The Copy and Paste

By | 2017-08-08T08:35:44+00:00 June 17th, 2011|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , |

I remember back in the day, stumbling upon a neat little tool called “Adwords Editor“.  And it was like the sky broke open, angels sang, and the gods smiled down on me. Once I used it, all I could say was: WHAT. A. FIND. Unfortunately I made this find after having a co-worker do a tremendous and tedious account overhaul manually is Adwords, but let’s not talk about that.

Anyway… we all know how Adwords Editor saves us time creating, managing, and editing PPC accounts. But there are even more features once you get into the nitty-gritty of Editor that are worth being aware of. And today I’d like to talk about the most simple of these: copy & paste.

The Copy and Paste in Adwords Editor

Yup. Good ol’ copy and paste. So, we all know you can export all or parts of an account using the “Export” feature under “File”. But what if you want to manipulate something super specific, like ad copy and keyword destination URLs? Exporting this is difficult and even impossible in some circumstances. Well,  copy and paste to the rescue!

How to Use Copy and Paste in Adwords Editor

Simply Control + C or Shift + C (depending on whether you’re selecting choice data or all data in a group) and Control + V into Excel. All data, including headings, will be pasted. Now do your thing with edits. Save as CSV, making sure your headings match, and import into Editor. Review and approve edits. Done! Now wasn’t that easy?


This method has served me particularly well in making large, sweeping changes to ad copy. Give it a try and check back again for more tips on our beloved Adwords Editor!






30 12, 2010

Tips for Creating an Effective Image Ad Campaign

By | 2017-02-23T17:46:25+00:00 December 30th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , , |

1)      Consistency with the theme is so important. Make sure that the images, offers, and text content you include on your graphic are highly visible on the destination landing page so that visitors don’t feel lost when they arrive on your site.

2)      Don’t negate the necessity for testing. Things can always improve.  Why not create future ads by learning what did and did not work for the ads in the past.  HINT: Here is where Google Website Optimizer comes in handy! Always think about your options in the following areas:

  • The Call to Action:
    • wording,
    • color,
    • shape,
    • size,
    • prominence
  • The Point of Action Assurances:
    • Should you include a verification logo for secured online purchases?
    • Should you include a privacy policy?
  • The Font You Use:
    • Which font should I choose?
    • Can my demographic read it easily?
    • If this is a mobile site, can they read the text of the ad?
    • Should I make it bold or italic?

Remember, what looks good on paper doesn’t always look so good online.

  • The Headline Message
    • Should you use punctuation?
    • Should you include an explanation of benefits/features?
    • Does it need to evoke emotion?
    • Should you ask a question?
  • The Graphic
    • What size/shape should it be?
    • Would the ad be more effective if there is an image of a person present for a relatable personability factor?

Remember, if you are going to have an image of a person, make sure that their eyes are facing forward to increase the false connection.

3)      Always track your destination URL. If you are new to this, use this link to help you build it.

If done right, an image ad is a great way to target your audience.  It is more visually attractive than a text ad, and is usually larger and easier to see and gain an impression.  You can also draw a visitor in by telling a story through basic animation.

23 12, 2010

Google AdWords – Plural versus Singular Keywords

By | 2017-02-21T10:10:12+00:00 December 23rd, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

You’re setting up your Google AdWords campaign and adding your keywords.  At some point you may ask yourself, “Does the singular form or plural form of the keyword matter?”.

So you go to the Google AdWords traffic estimator and check to see which form gets the most traffic.

Let’s check out the keywords “attorney” and  “attorneys”.

In the table above, “attorney” gets more click traffic (1,920 – 2,404) and it has a cheaper cpc ($5.92 – $8.51).  “Attorney”  looks like the better choice between the two to add to your ad campaign.

But wait…

Doesn’t a higher cpc (cost per click) mean that the keyword “attorneys” commands a higher bid price which is a reflection of higher demand?

“Attorneys” has a higher cpc because advertisers know that the plural is a lot more likely to be typed in by people who are looking to hire an attorney.  Therefore , the bids are driven up because of the higher  demand and you pay a higher cpc to use the plural form.

But why???

The reason is that the singular form is generic and it is likely  that someone who types in “attorney” wants to know something in general about what an attorney is and what the job entails .  A singular search doesn’t always have a similar intent that a search for “attorneys” does.

Typing a search for “attorneys” is more likely to be a search looking to hire an attorney.

Now,  setting your keyword to broad match will cover both singular and plural matches. You’ve covered the potential click traffic, but you have to wonder,  how many of those keyword searches using the singular form in a broad match are costing you money?

22 09, 2010

Top Ad Positioning with Google Instant and Close Matches

By | 2016-11-23T11:20:49+00:00 September 22nd, 2010|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , |

Is that the search query you were looking for?

Google Instant allows you to get to the right content faster because you don’t have to finish typing  in your full search term.  You get instant feedback during your search. Would that cause some search visitors to hit enter and conclude a query before there is a more exact match to the keyword they are looking for?

In our analytics, we noticed that during the course of a query some hits were being picked up as only partial keyword searches. Apparently, some search visitors are believing they have concluded a search query when they have actually not.

For example, let’s say I want to search for Christmas toys.

I start my query and get to the point below where I have typed in “christmas to” and not finished typing completely to “christmas toys”.


On the screenshot above, you notice that there are not any sponsored results.

But if I complete typing, this is what happens…

Now above, sponsored ads fill up the top and right sections of the screen.

What this means is that a window of opportunity exists (albeit perhaps a small one!)  during the course of a search query for top ad positioning by bidding on a exact match for [christmas to] . Suppose that after bidding on the close match, the real possibility exists for searchers catching sight of my ad, stopping the query before completion,  and clicking on the ad. The brief moment of top ad position is  likely far cheaper than bidding on “christmas toys” and might be worth the effort for the traffic you receive.

People say that giving is better than receiving, but that is certainly not the case with AdWords.

I wonder how modifed broad matches variants behave?