Search Funnels Have Arrived in the AdWords Interface. Use Them.

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Lost amid last week’s reactions to Google’s new Enhanced Campaigns was a pretty nifty enhancement to the Google interface.  Search funnel information is now available for inclusion in the AdWords reporting, right alongside the rest of your data.  As long as you have conversion tracking active in your account, you can add in these columns to get even more insight to how your ads are affecting people.

First, a quick explanation of Search Funnels – in Google’s own words, they “help you see the full picture by giving you insight into the ads your customers interact with during their shopping [or lead form submitting] process.”  They give you the ability to see what ads were clicked (or even viewed) on a user’s journey into becoming a sale or lead.

Before, these reports were only available on the conversions tab in the AdWords interface (Tools and Analysis > Conversions > Search Funnels {on the bottom left side above the Help box}).  They were sort of a hidden gem of reporting, tucked away on a tab where people seldom journeyed.  While these reports are still available for your viewing/information pleasure in that space, they are now also available as metrics within your dearly beloved AdWords campaigns/ad groups/keywords/ads.

The below metrics are now available for you to add (which the interface will tell you “reflect activity only on Google.com,” so your search partner information is going to be absent – in case you’re wondering why all of the conversions don’t add up, this is one of the more prominent reasons):

(Also, the description underneath each term along with the “why it matters” info is what pops up when you hover over the question mark in the interface, so now you won’t have to do all of that hovering. Don’t say I never gave you anything.)

Assist clicks

The total number of clicks a keyword received prior to a conversion (excluding the last click)

Assist impressions

The total number of times a keyword triggered impressions that were not clicked in searches preceding a conversion.

Click assisted conversions

The total number of conversions for which this keyword contributed one or more assist clicks (Ed. note – assist clicks plus last click conversions)

Impression assisted conversions

The total number of conversions for which this keyword triggered assist impressions prior to the last click

Click assisted conversion value

The total value of all conversions for which this keyword triggered assist clicks

Impression assisted conversion value

The total value of all conversions for which this keyword triggered assist impressions

Assist clicks/last clicks

The total number of assist clicks a keyword received divided by the total number of last clicks it has triggered

Why it matters (Ed. note – these are also from the Google tool tips): A last click is the click that immediately precedes the conversion. This ratio shows whether a keyword contributes more assist clicks (if the number is greater than one) or more last clicks (if the number is less than one).

Assist impressions/last clicks

The total number of assist impressions a keyword has triggered divided by the total number of last clicks it’s received.

Why it matters: A last click is the click that immediately precedes the conversion. This ratio shows whether a keyword contributes more assist impressions (if the number is greater than one) or more last clicks (if the number is less than one).

Click-assisted conversions/last click conversions

The total number of conversions for which this keyword received assist clicks divided by the total number of conversions for which this keyword triggered the last click.

Why it matters: A Last click is the click that immediately precedes the conversion. This ratio shows whether a keyword contributes more click-assisted conversions (if the number is greater than one) or more last click conversions (if the number is less than one).

Impression assisted conversions/last click conversions

The total number of conversions for which this keyword triggered assist impressions divided by the total number of conversions for which this keyword triggered the last click.

Why it matters: The Last click is the click that immediately precedes the conversion. This ratio shows whether a keyword contributes more impression-assisted conversions (if the number is greater than one) or more last click conversions (if the number is less than one).

All of these numbers track activity on Google.com that goes back 30 days before a conversion.

They’re a bit hard to digest at first pass, so I suggest that you read through each of these descriptions out loud to yourself over and over until they actually make sense (which was how I finally made sense of them).  If it takes you fewer than three times you’re quicker on the uptake than I am.  I’ve tried to make them more digestible, but everything that I came up with was way more convoluted than Google’s definitions, thus the direct quoting up above.

So now that you have this data available, how should you use it?  Google has a few recommendations for you:

  1. Identify your best assisting keywords by looking for “a high click-assisted conversions / last-click conversion ratio”
    1. Google says to use automated rules to increase their bids when this number crosses a certain threshold.  While it’s cool to see these have already been incorporated into automatic rules, actually enabling them might be a bit premature.  I would say to watch this metric and let it influence your bidding strategy, but don’t let it be the driving force behind it.  Automated rules are a bad idea for this, in my opinion.  Set them up at your own peril.
  2. Ensure that you’re competitive with your assisting keywords
    1. This one’s a great point that I can’t quibble with.  Make sure you’re visible for all parts of your funnel.  We’ve run into problems in the past where non-converting keywords were paused to cut CPA, only a lot of conversions were left behind as well (ones that the paused keywords hadn’t ever gotten credit for – now search funnels should help prevent that).
  3. Focus on making ad text better for ads with lots of impression-assisted conversions.
    1. I really like this one.  It’s a great insight – the users that see this ad are clearly who you’re going for since they convert down the line.  Refine your ad text to try and shorten that funnel however you can.

 

Combined with all of the Analytics columns that are now available in the interface, your account may be looking a bit crowded.  I have a personal bias against horizontal scrolling, so I can’t have a billion columns in each report/tab.  Here’s what I would recommend adding to each tab of your interface that balances a enough information to make decisions with being able to actually read what’s happening.

(This will of course vary by each account and its needs, but I feel these columns will give you a good level of initial insight upon seeing them.  Once you have that initial insight, add in even more columns to get the info that you’re trying to dig out.)

Campaigns Tab

Assist clicks, assist impressions

Ad Groups Tab

Assist clicks, assist impressions, assist clicks/last clicks

Ads Tab

Assist clicks, assist impressions, impression assisted conversion /last click conversion, assist impression/last clicks

Keywords Tab

Assist clicks, assist impressions, impression assisted conversion /last click conversion, click-assisted conversion/last click conversion

 

Even these might be too much information, so whatever you think works best for you.  Search funnels are a great tool to get some always-appreciated insight about how our different keywords, ads and campaigns all work together.

I’m also very excited to see how these work with the new enhanced campaigns.  While cross-device tracking isn’t yet available, at some point in the glorious future we should be able to see how tablets and mobile devices do in terms of assists.  If Google’s messaging and research is accurate, there should be gobs of them, but only time will tell.

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  • Davis

    Thanks for the informative post and great tips!

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      You are very welcome. Thanks for reading!

  • Julie Vera

    Way more informative than the AdWords Blog post! Thank you!

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Thanks for reading. I’m glad you liked it!

  • maciek

    “They’re a bit hard to digest at first pass, so I suggest that you read through each of these descriptions out loud to yourself over and over until they actually make sense”

    that was nice surprise for me:), I’ve done sth like that before I read this tip

    btw great post

    greetings from Poland

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      It’s great to hear that I’m not the only one who reads aloud to himself. Glad you liked the post!

  • http://twitter.com/GnosisArts Gnosis Media Group

    Question: Say I have a search campaign that, for a 30 day period, shows 357 Conversions (1 per click) and 248 Ciick Assisted Conversions. What does this mean, exactly? Are the 248 assisted click conversions included within the 357 conversions – or are they in addition to?

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Media Group

    • http://twitter.com/GnosisArts Gnosis Media Group

      I think I’ve answered my own question. My guess is that the number of assisted click conversions can never exceed the number of last click conversions. i.e., assists are included within last clicks.

  • http://twitter.com/GnosisArts Gnosis Media Group

    Repeat 10 times: As the number approaches or exceeds 1.0, it means the keyword is functioning more in the assist role. As the number approaches 0, it means the keyword is functioning more in the last click or producing role. Sigh

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Yeah, the language is totally mind bending. Repetition is your friend with all this jargon.

  • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

    Hi Eric,

    Click assisted conversions include all clicks that participated in the conversion process. So if someone clicked on an ad for that keyword then converted via a different keyword it counts as a click assisted conversion, but it also counts as a click assisted conversion if he clicked on a different keyword elsewhere but then finally converted on your keyword.

    I think that click assisted conversions are double counting, since you’ll get one for a click assisted conversion even though you’re already getting credit over in the main conversion column.

    For that reason I’d recommend using assist clicks instead of click assisted conversions. I just think it’s a cleaner way to go about it. That way it’d be a lot easier to work out the math on how to adjust your CPL. Here’s the method that Jeff has done in the past: http://www.ppchero.com/easily-increase-sales-with-assisted-impressions-clicks/

    I think his math is right on, I would just personally swap assist clicks for click assisted conversions.

    Good luck!

    • http://twitter.com/GnosisArts Gnosis Media Group

      Thanks, Sean. I see your logic. I’m still not sure how we want to count these Click Assisted Conversions. So until I’m clear, I think we’ll just continue to … ahem … inflate … ahem … count them as .1 of a conversion for now ;-)

      • arif ahmed

        Hi Sean & Eric,

        I think it makes complete sense to use Click assisted conversions. According to my understanding, they do not duplicate any values.

        Consider this explanation…

        A keyword can either contribute as an assist click(user clicks on this keyword but converts sometime later) or as an assist impression(Keyword impression gets loaded but the user converts sometime later) or as a last click(user converts after clicking this keyword…

        In such a case, Click assisted conversions measure assist clicks + last clicks ….thus telling us the contribution of a particular keyword in conversions at some stage of the buying cycle. Hope this makes sense…open for discussion…

        Thanks,

        Arif

        • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

          Hey Arif,

          I totally get what you’re saying. I just wanted to make it clear that click assisted factors in last click conversions as well. As long as you can make sense of the metrics that search funnels are providing to us then you should be all good.

          I personally prefer having as much clarity in my data as possible (as it allows for you to optimize things differently for last click conversions + assist clicks), but as with so many things in AdWords there are a bunch of ways to go about it.

          Thanks for sharing!