There’s something in my refrigerator that drives me insane.
I see it rarely, but it still causes an audible sigh.
There will be a ketchup bottle, with maybe an inch or two left in the bottom. My eyes will cast around and there, I’ll see it:
An already newly-opened one.
So a new one was opened without the old one being totally maximized. GAAAHHHH.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Depression-era “USE EVERY DROP” person – but let’s not create more opened stuff when we aren’t totally using what we have.
Paid media is a fridge full of half-to-less-than-half full ketchup bottles, with people ripping the tops off new ones.
One of the examples I like to use about this is when you’re in a high-cost environment to acquire eyeballs. Let’s say you are in running in paid search with $20+ CPCs.
The ads drive visitors, and a brand says, “Hm. This worked and this didn’t.” And…that’s it.
It’s decreed: winner or loser. Keep these keywords, ditch those.
This thing worked, or it didn’t, and by the way, they paid a MINT for that pricey traffic. Most times, the audiences all see the same remarketing ad, no matter where they came from.
Here’s two ways to squeeze ALL the ketchup from that bottle, AKA: how to build your paid audiences for longer-term gain.
Use UTM Tags as Segments
Most of us utilize UTM tagging to keep track of all our off-site efforts.
Why not, right? It organizes everything neatly in Google Analytics so you can see all your paid media efforts easily.
But have you ever used it for things OTHER than Google Analytics?
Think about it this way: a UTM tag can operate as a vanity URL. The only way a user visited a page with that tagging was because they came from whatever link you tagged and put somewhere.
If someone visits from utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid, they’re your Facebook Ads visits.
You can add additional utm parameters to identify them further.
And because they are URLs, platforms that can make custom audiences from URL visits.
See where I’m going with the opportunity for that?
Using Intent-Rich Paid Search in Paid Social
The easiest win? If you’re already running paid search at a good clip, you have a wonderfully untapped audience!
There are two ways to do this: one is a general way, the other is turbocharged.
General Custom Audience of Paid Search Traffic
When a paid search user clicks an ad, something called a Google Click ID is added. It’s called a “gclid,” and that’s what appears in the URL.
So it looks something like this:
https://yourdomain./gclid=[insert string of numbers and letters]
A gclid is applied only when someone comes via paid search, so we can treat these users just like I outlined above.
Head to your Custom Audiences in Facebook, and create a new one based off Website Visits.
Choose the option for “people who visited specific web pages” and specify the URL contains “&gclid.”
From that point on, anyone who comes to your website via search is now a custom audience.
How to Think About Your Paid Search Audience
At the very least, these users can potentially make a lookalike audience! Test some different iterations with things like:
- Length of look back window
- Lookalike percentages
These are high-intent users, and they’re actively looking for you. We want more of that!
This leads naturally to the next thought: “But what did they search?”
Deeper Paid Search Custom Audience Segmentation
If you’re spending a lot of money in paid search, or you have multiple product areas, you’ll want to get more specific with your audiences.
For example, if you sell treadmills but also $100 running shoes, that’s two very different product lines.
A lookalike audience from that might not be all that helpful. It could if you’re looking for runners, but not so mucho f iThis is where deeper segmentation can happen, and you have a few options for it.
Using site taxonomy and the gclid reference is one way to accomplish this. Let’s stick with our example above on treadmills, and assume you have a category refiner in your URL structure for your line of treadmills.
You can create your glid audience, but then refine it based on the fact they visited that URL, too:
If you wanted to get even more specific, you could add an additional refiner to exclude other page visits. This can be helpful to narrow down intent to JUST the treadmill-seekers.
Specialized Paid Search Tagging for Facebook/Instagram Ad Custom Audiences
“But Susan, that doesn’t mean they searched for treadmills. Maybe they came via search and just browsed because they were bored.”
There is another option if you want to get more specific, but it requires some different tagging on your paid search efforts.
There isn’t necessarily a reason to get as granular as the keyword when it comes to segmenting your audiences in paid search.
Instead, think of your ad groups in paid search – it’s a great way to think of intent buckets in paid social. If the terms are in their own ad group to get the most relevant ad copy possible…wouldn’t that mean you want more specific paid social ads for them on Facebook and Instagram?
If you sell bathing suits and then also shorts, you might have a bunch of ad sets set up.
You probably have auto-tagging set up so Google Analytics automatically gets a bunch of data from your Google Ads.
Did you know you can override some of those by using manual UTM tags?
I recommend using a field that you don’t rely on heavily – usually the utm_content one, or something like that.
You’d want to decide the “themes” you want to tag. Using our example above, any ads to do with bathing suits could use: utm_content=bathing_suits appended to the URL.
This would then bucket all the users who clicked through on an ad pertaining to bathing suits.
Yes, it’s labor-intense.
No, I don’t recommend that you do it for EVERY keyword theme you have. Definitely do it for your bigger players only and test results before rolling it out.
Paid Search in Paid Social Funnel-Building
Something I strongly encourage: think about your paid search audience as a seed audience.
Yes, the remarketing part is super-important too (especially if those bathing suit folks clicked on a bikini ad vs. a one-piece suit, for example) but the biggest missed opportunity is usually to repurpose your data!
Those clicks you buy are for sales, but they are also an information-rich source from which to create future audiences.
Remember: you aren’t just buying customers, you are buying data. Treat it as such.