Episode 134

Navigating Volatility with FB Ads and Turning Problems Into Opportunities

Molly Pittman - CEO Smart Marketer & John Grimshaw - CMO Smart Marketer
September 16, 2020
SUBSCRIBE: iTunesStitcher

CPAs that suddenly double overnight. Skyrocketing CPMs. Winning ads that suddenly turn into losers. Data changes that impact how ads are being run now. The list of potential issues, potholes, loopholes and blackholes for online advertising goes on and on. So what’s an eComm store owner or media buyer to do? Call in Molly Pittman and John Grimshaw from Smart Marketer.  These are two of my favorite people to interview and today I have them both with me for the same episode. And it’s a doozy. Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How to have the right mindset for navigating volatility (this is more important than you think)
  • What to do when ad performance tanks
  • Where you should tinker to improve performance and where you shouldn’t
  • Why this is still the greatest time in history to be a marketer - volatility and all.
  • 3 Spot checks to make sure you are ready to scale traffic
  • The impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act and new changes coming to iOS 14….the good, the bad and the scary.

Molly Pittman -  CEO at Smart Marketer

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Instagram


John Grimshaw - CMO at Smart Marketer

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Instagram


Smart Marketer - eCommerce Courses by Ezra Firestone

Via LinkedIn


Digital Strategy Boot Camps

Train My Traffic Person with Molly Pittman

Mentioned in this episode:

“Big Magic” book by Elizabeth Gilbert

Hotjar

Crazy Egg

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Episode Transcript

Brett Curry:

Well hello and welcome to another edition of the E-commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce and today I have two of my all time favorite guests on this podcast, together right? It's like a dynamic duo on this podcast or trifecta if you want to throw me into the mix here. I'm really really excited. We're going to be talking about some very important topics that are timely, what we're going through right now and then also we look forward to the holidays and beyond. We're going to talk about how we deal with volatility, how do we deal with some of the new changes and tweaks and quirks that are happening in some of the online ad platforms, specifically Facebook. We're going to take a good look at data and some things you should be spot checking right now for problems as you prepare for the holiday and beyond.

Brett Curry:

I am delighted to welcome to the show the CEO of Smart Marketer Molly Pittman. What's up Molly?

Molly Pittman:

Hey Brett. Hey everybody listening. Happy to be here and yeah, just hanging out in Amsterdam.

Brett Curry:

Little bit jealous, little bit jealous.

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, glad to have a little break from the US right now but yeah, just excited about life. There's a lot of crazy stuff happening but our industry is seeing the biggest growth we've ever seen super quickly so-

Brett Curry:

It's been fun.

Molly Pittman:

There's so much to be excited about and yeah, happy to just share our experiences.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, absolutely. Then your partner in crime the CMO of Smart Marketer and really legitimately one of the smartest dudes I know, John Grimshaw. What's up Grimshaw? Thanks for coming on the show man/

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, happy to be here. I'm excited to jump on and chat. Always fun to get on this podcast. I think you're really good at teasing out good topics. It's nice sometimes you feel like you got to bring the whole backpack yourself as the guest but you do a great job of pulling the good stuff out-

Molly Pittman:

You make it easy.

Brett Curry:

Right, good. Thank you. I appreciate that. I enjoy-

Molly Pittman:

We enjoy this.

Brett Curry:

I enjoy interviewing smart people so that helps for sure. You are not hailing from Amsterdam John, you are coming from Texas.

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, smack dab in the middle of Austin. I have been cleansed of the Texas accent unless I've had exactly one drink and then it really comes out strong but-

Brett Curry:

Are you from Texas? Are you a Texas native?

John Grimshaw:

I am, yeah. I'm actually from Austin.

Brett Curry:

I never would've guessed that.

John Grimshaw:

I'm the only person that lives in the city and was born here.

Molly Pittman:

True.

Brett Curry:

Is that right? It's all technology influence. People relocating for the tech energy in Austin. What's interesting, I'm from Missouri, Springfield, Missouri. I did the same thing. I'm not a huge fan of the accent in my part of the country and so I've deliberately tried... I've had people say, "Are you from California? Where are you from?" I'm like, "No, Missouri. Just working on that accent cleansing."

Molly Pittman:

Hey that's a real thing though. I'm from Kentucky and same thing people are like, "Molly, where'd your accent go?" We have all successfully accent cleansed but-

Brett Curry:

I love where I'm from-

Molly Pittman:

I kind of miss it.

Brett Curry:

Proud of it, love it I just don't want to... I want to sound like not that. Anyway.

John Grimshaw:

I just want to be network TV ready at any moment, right? We could jump in front of the teleprompter and tell people what's going on in the world.

Brett Curry:

If I get that call, yeah. If I get that call to take my skills to one of the networks I'll be ready. Good guys. Hey, one of the things that we're dealing with a lot right now and at the time of this recording we had some really crazy times especially in the Facebook world, even last week, some severe volatility. I want to kind of get... Pick your brains. You guys are two of the best here at ad strategy, ad creatives, data testing, figuring out what's working, what's not and where do we go from here. Just in general, how do you approach volatility and Molly I'll start with you.

Molly Pittman:

This is timely right now in 2020 because and I don't know if you've seen this on Google, they tend to have similar trends but with Facebook we've seen just in 2020 the cheapest ad costs in five or so years right after COVID happened. People quit spending, supply went up because people were spending. I think Facebook reported they've seen overall a 15% increase year over year in just usage on their platforms because people are home, they're bored.

Brett Curry:

What else you going to do besides scroll Facebook or scroll YouTube or whatever, yeah.

Molly Pittman:

Then you have brands that aren't quite sure what's going to happen with their business or the fate of the economy. People cut back on spend and so for a few months in March, April, May, even into summertime we saw really cheap ad costs which of course very exciting, a silver lining there. Then on the other hand, the last month or two we've really not only have we seen ad costs sort of go back to normal, normal-ish right? But you're also seeing a lot of volatility on the platform. We just started a free 10 day boot camp all about Facebook ads just for free, help as many people as we can and one of the posts, one of the questions that we asked when people joined the group was what is your number one struggle with Facebook advertising? The most common answer was definitely the volatility, right? This is really timely right now because like I said, the last few months have been completely across the board and I think there are a few reasons for this.

Molly Pittman:

Late summer is always when Facebook pushes out updates for some reason so they're in the midst of changing the platform to get ready for Q4 and anytime you see Facebook the platform is becoming buggy, there's a whole rabbit hole to go down there, that seems to cause volatility. I think you also have a huge surge in some ad spend of people starting their Q4 back to school kind of advertising and of course you have the election. I don't know if you guys know this but there's a Facebook Ads library where you can go type in certain Facebook pages, see the ads they're running and if they're political you can actually see the amount of money that they're spending. Well, both parties have hundreds of pages and so we're estimating that they're spending right now something like 50 million, 100 million dollars a week on Facebook ads. That's also changing the situation.

Molly Pittman:

Anyways, this is a very interesting time on the Facebook platform but we've seen many of these, right? This happens every year. Something occurs and you wake up one day and your CPA is double what it was the day before. It's scary and I get it and I'm not saying it's fun but it's part of being a media wire, right? This is part of the excitement.

Brett Curry:

If you want to avoid volatility then don't advertise on Facebook, right? Or avoid essentially every other platform as well. I heard an interview with-

Molly Pittman:

Part of the game.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Heard an interview with Andrew Stan, he's one of the directors for Pixar and I'm a huge Pixar fan because they tell great stories and they're really really good at what they do but he talks about... He kind of uses an analogy of a boat, right? Leading a creative team to make a movie, it's like taking a ship across the ocean and then you're going to hit storms and there's going to problems, there's going to be chaos and crisis and if you want to avoid that, don't get on the boat. That's the only way to avoid it is to not get on the boat. You obviously want these... Yeah, go ahead Molly.

Molly Pittman:

I'm sorry. No and not thinking of it like a day trading platform. This isn't just math, this is social media. Our world is chaotic and in a state of crisis. That is going to be reflected on these platforms because these platforms are inhabited by humans and they're the ones that are buying your stuff. It does suck when this happens. Actually I think it was last week, two weeks ago, Boris the CMO from Boom, he's like, "Guys, woke up today. CPA has doubled. This is not good." Whenever that happens just for you guys because you've all experienced this-

Brett Curry:

Not the message you want to hear in the morning over your cup of coffee that our CPA has doubled now.

Molly Pittman:

No. We let it ride for three days at least because sometimes-

Brett Curry:

Through no changes? You let just let it ride for three days just to see?

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, no changes.

Brett Curry:

Okay. I thought you were going to see if the algo corrects itself? If the machine... If it just levels out?

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, see if it can recover. Sometimes especially if it's a reporting issue or some sort of glitch in the platform, you see that rise but it's not always even the case, right? It just might be a reporting issue or something going on in the platform. We always give it three days to just see if things can recover or to try to figure out what the hell is going on and we usually assume that it's us, right? First thing is are we processing payments? Is a page broken? Is there something that we're-

Brett Curry:

Is there something going on with the cart?

Molly Pittman:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

Is there a program that's broken on the site, something like that.

Molly Pittman:

A lot of times that's actually the case. People freak out and they're like, "Facebook's broken," and come to find out your domain expired or-

Brett Curry:

You got cart errors. You got cart errors that are causing them to bail.

Molly Pittman:

Exactly but if we check those areas and everything looks normal and after three days we haven't recovered or we're not in at least a better place, then you do have to make the decision. Okay, I need to turn this off and then you kind of go back through that media buying process of, okay I need to build new campaigns. Those fatigued. They're not working and what can I do differently aside from whatever craziness might be going on in the world or on the platform. What can maybe I do differently to try to reenter the auction in a place that's more profitable. Definitely part of the game and it's not all sunshine and roses as a media buyer.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, it's a tough gig and in a minute John I want to dig into some of the data and the ways you look for problems and try to uncover the root of a problem where you kind of go from there. Molly, just to kind of circle back to this because I think this is important. We deal with some volatility on the Google side. OMG is mainly a Google and Amazon traffic agency. I do a lot with YouTube personally. We have volatility on YouTube too. It has been oddly enough a little more stable lately thankfully which has been kind of cool but-

Molly Pittman:

It's an older platform too.

Brett Curry:

It is.

Molly Pittman:

Google has their shit together in a much better way.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, and almost unlimited inventory. Yeah, there's a few things going for YouTube that make it a little bit easier and some audience differences that allow for creatives to last longer on YouTube than they do on Facebook. There's some things there but still, we deal with challenges and a campaign that worked at certain budget doesn't work when we bump it up to the next budget or works at a certain bid level but then we try to tinker with that it stops working so there are things that are issues there. How do you get your mind right Molly because I think that's... We'll talk technical stuff but I think actually getting your mindset right is important too. How do you get your mind right to be able to deal with the volatility and to keep your creativity up and to tackle problems objectively and things like that? Any tips and maybe you're just an amazing person and it's easy and you just go for it but do you have any thoughts there to get your mind right?

Molly Pittman:

It's not always easy and sometimes it does affect your mood. I think the biggest advice I could give is try to separate yourself from the results that you're getting. I see a lot of students and I've gone through this, things aren't going well and then you melt and you go to this depressive state-

Brett Curry:

I'm no good, I'm a failure.

Molly Pittman:

I'm no good, yeah. That is only going to completely block your creativity and cause you to suffer right? And actually lead you to that place which you are not in and you're not actually in in that moment. That it totally your ego and for anyone that struggles with this definitely read or listen to the book, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about how creativity actually works from an energetic standpoint. When I read her book is when I understood, oh Molly you getting emotionally upset about these campaigns not working is causing you to bock your own creativity. I think as of course you want to celebrate it and of course you're going to feel disappointed if you care, if you were invested but you have to realize that yeah, the results of the campaign doesn't really say who you are as a person or a marketer.

Molly Pittman:

I think when you're able to do that then you can just be more grounded and accept. To this day I would say 60 to 70% of what I try or do still doesn't work but I try to celebrate that as much as what does work because it's a teaching moment. Your skillset as a media buyer is part knowledge and information but it's mostly experience and not all of that experience is going to be what works. You're going to learn even more from what didn't.

Brett Curry:

I love it. I think a couple things and there's a leader that I really like to listen to his podcast, his name's Craig Groeschel but he talks about training your brain to see problem and think opportunity. That should be your immediate reaction. Problem, but opportunity. Opportunity in our case is to learn. To learn something really big and important that we can share with our community or share with other clients or just use to benefit our business, right so there's an opportunity there. There's an opportunity to discover some new campaign or some new approach that we didn't have before that if everything was just going along smoothly you would've never been forced to think that way, right? We see problem we think opportunity. Understanding that the creative process is a little bit messy, right? One of the things we talked about as a team recently is that our job and I was talking to our project manager, our account managers and our specialist and our whole team, I think this applies to media buyers too.

Brett Curry:

Your job is not to have the right answer. That's not your job. Your job is not to say, "Here's a problem. Oh, well I know exactly the answer to it" no, no, no. Your job is to think of, here's the issue we're seeing problem or opportunity whatever. Here are some hypotheses that I have. These are three or four tests. Based on what we're seeing I think there's a few ways we could go. I think this could work or I think this could work or I think this could work. Well thought out, well structured and then you run with that. That's your job. Then yeah, I'm so glad you mentioned that Molly. Even the famous, the world famous Molly Pittman, 60% of the stuff she does doesn't work but that's fine.

Brett Curry:

That's like playing baseball, that's like a hall of fame career, right? Batting 400 or whatever. We're really not trying to solve it in one fell swoop or have the right answer. We're laying out a process to solve these problems. I want to kick that to you John. Any first mindset tips or ways you like to tackle problems? I know you get nerdy man. I know you like to be-

John Grimshaw:

I've learned to reel back on the math when I jump on these so don't worry but I really like... You teed it up perfectly. Something Molly said, Facebook is not a day trading platform. My mental perspective on it is yes that's exactly correct because day trading is pushed a lot by external factors. Diagnosing problems is a lot like waking up and feeling like crap and you do the mental calculus to say, "What thing that I did yesterday is the problem?" Did I have too much to drink? I had one beer. No that's not it. Did I eat too much crappy food? Oh I did eat fast food three times. That might be it. Its like, "Oh, no wait. The night before I stayed up 'till 2:00 a.m. watching whatever on Netflix and this is the sandman coming for his due. That is what it is, right? We're really kind of thinking about things that we've done and I think you do frame that well Molly that there's a lot of opportunity in changing what we've created and going through the sort of process to identify which piece it is that breaks and so Molly mentioned the 10 day boot camp.

John Grimshaw:

We actually have been running quite a bit of ad spend for that lately and had sort of this experience ourselves. We got it out of the gate and it didn't look bad, right? I think we were sitting at $4 cost per lead, something like that, 3.50 which is a little higher than we were expecting and so I decided to dive in and do the process and I looked around-

Brett Curry:

Just to frame this, you're running ads for your free boot camp which by the way, is that free boot camp still open or is that closed at this point?

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, it's still open.

Brett Curry:

We'll link to that in the show notes, yeah.

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, awesome, that'd be great. Yeah, we're running ads for this and I like your hypothesis word, right? I think of myself as a scientist. I put on the lab coat when I come in and try to do stuff and while things may be working, right? $4 cost per lead not so bad.

Brett Curry:

Not bad.

John Grimshaw:

I think we could make it better and so I go through my checklist of what the different metrics look like. I look at conversion rate on the page, I look at how individual ads are performing. What's the click through rate? I jump in and I look at... This is actually one, I don't look at this one much but Molly always looks at the CPM, basically the cost per 1,000 impressions. Those give us a lot of indicators as to where the opportunity is. I realized with this-

Brett Curry:

Just real quick and I hope I don't derail you but I'm curious because this is always interesting. Molly looks at CPM, you don't as much and just full transparency I don't look at CPM a whole lot either but I'm curious, Molly why do you look at CPM? What are you looking for there and John why don't you? I think this will be a fun little quick diversion.

Molly Pittman:

Well, I'm usually looking at things from the media buyer standpoint so I'm in the ad account figuring out is it the targeting, the ads, what's going on here? Where is the biggest opportunity for improvement? John's looking a bit more... He's looking big picture but he's looking a bit more post click to for me CPM is not one of the first things I look at but if my other numbers look good, if my click through looks good, all of that looks good, then CPM for me is an indication of one of two things. Either my targeting is just not specific enough and therefore the competition is too broad, too high and therefore I'm just paying more to reach these people or it's an indication of something like what's happening right now where the market, the Facebook's marketplace has just changed and has become so much more competitive over the last month or two. That's when I look to CPM numbers and kind of what they tell me. I don't look at CPM to be, "Oh, we're doing a good job or a bad job, you know?" It's a complete secondary metric to allow us to diagnose some sort of issue.

Brett Curry:

Yep, totally makes sense. Awesome. Anything you would add to that John or if not let's get back to your train of thought. Sorry I derailed you there.

John Grimshaw:

No, no. No worries at all. Yeah, I was going to lead to that too but the volatility we talked about, we saw that and so maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse here but we saw about a week into this our costs had skyrocketed and it was a big uh-oh. What did we do wrong but we really went in and looked at all the metrics and everything looked really solid, right? Performance was actually up from where I'd checked it before when you're looking a click through rate and conversion rate and all this stuff. That's when Molly jumped in and said, "Wow, the CPM has increased like crazy," and we realized you could see the same thing reflected in-

Brett Curry:

It's external though. That's an external ..

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, this was right when Boris kind of gave us the, "Hey something is a little bit funky about what we're seeing," and so it was a good indicator that obviously we want to be agile and do what we can to make the most of higher CPM but it wasn't something where we had to go in and fix... Clean our house up situation. It was more of a Facebook has changed.

Molly Pittman:

When we started to see it in Boone's ad account and the other ad accounts that I'm a part of that tells me that it's also not market specific or even a certain business type, it's Facebook's ecosystem, this is just changing for all of us right now.

Brett Curry:

Yep, it's a C change basically. Maybe it's short lived but it's a change that's... It's like the weather, right? We're all in it, can't change it. We'll just have to learn to adapt a little bit. Are there any other tips you would give Molly as you're troubleshooting a campaign that's just not working? Any other checklist items or thoughts you would give there?

Molly Pittman:

We definitely always start with the page because making tweaks and improvements in your ad campaigns specifically in Facebook... Doing a lot of tinkering is not always good. The more you can just let Facebook do its thing and not press a lot of buttons and change a lot of stuff mid-campaign-

Brett Curry:

Over correcting.

Molly Pittman:

The better.

Brett Curry:

We see this on YouTube too. If you start to get antsy and you over correct and bid way up, bid way down that's not good.

Molly Pittman:

It resets things. It resets the optimization. It confuses Facebook. They're headed in one direction, then you tell them to move over here. That's tough. We always start with the page because any improvements we can make post click are going to decrease the cost per lead or cost per acquisition without us having to touch anything in the ad account. That's really like with this launch simple opt in page, we're optimizing for a customer conversion on the thank you page, we're telling Facebook, "Hey we want people to opt in for this boot camp," and so of course that's the first place that we start and we did notice that our mobile traffic, John you can speak to this more but it was higher than it's ever been. Significantly higher. We did make a change to the page to make it more mobile friendly and we saw a 12 or 13% increase which that helped right out of the gate-

Brett Curry:

12 or 13% increase in what? In conversion rate in traffic? In what?

Molly Pittman:

In conversion rate and opt ins so that decreases the cost per lead 12 or 13% without us having to mess with Facebook's optimization especially early in the campaign. That's where we always start.

John Grimshaw:

I like to look on the page side because I can tinker, right? You can't tinker with Facebook but with the page, hoo boy, I can get in there and do anything I want because I know how to edit it.

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, and John's looking at heat maps and sorry.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, John what do you look at on the page? What are some of your top tips in terms of what do you see in the data and then what does that cause you to look at on the page?

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, so the two things I do first, whenever I'm evaluating anything is I jump in and I look at especially for an opt in or you could do this for purchase as well but I want to see what the conversion rate is for different devices, right? I want to see how people are performing on desktop versus mobile. Tablet you can kind of throw in there but usually it's very small percentage and I want to see conversion rate for different traffic sources. This would include the different campaigns we're running on Facebook. We would also include anything we're running on Google or email and all this stuff to not just get this kind of shotgun broad strokes look but really go in and try to laser target and find if there's something that's not working. So we thought-

Molly Pittman:

And build the story. John, sorry to interrupt you but this is a story you're building guys. You're a detective when you're in this mode. You're trying to figure out it's not just this didn't work, move on, right? It's like this didn't work or did work, why?

John Grimshaw:

Yeah. Perhaps an executive at Pixar, right? Storytelling.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, look at that.

John Grimshaw:

We're jumping in and I saw that mobile traffic was 90% of visits to the page which is crazy because normally we're looking at a 60-40 split where 60% is mobile. That was kind of the first big change I noticed that said, "Okay, this is a thread I need to investigate further because there's something to our opt in rate being a little lower than we wanted it to and I think this is connected. When I ran some heat maps on the page I noticed two big things. On desktop people scrolled pretty much all the way to the bottom but on the mobile phone the fold which is the spot in the page where when you open the window up, this is what people see immediately, you couldn't actually see any of the form fields. You saw the headline, and you saw some descriptive copy but nobody knew they had to fill out a form to get this and only 52% of people scrolled down to the point where they could click the I'm interested button. Right away... I'd seen this on other clients before and I should've checked it myself but when you're getting something out the door sometimes you're just like, "Let's get it live."

Brett Curry:

Yep, speed becomes priority, yeah.

John Grimshaw:

I realized we needed to pull some of that copy out and so that's the test Molly mentioned that we set up that basically shortened the copy a little bit at the top, shrank the fonts and it pulled the opt in form up where people could see all the fields.

Brett Curry:

They could see, hey this is my next step.

John Grimshaw:

Exactly.

Brett Curry:

Other than hey I don't know what to do here.

John Grimshaw:

It really helped a lot.

Brett Curry:

That was 12 to 13% increase just reworking the copy, changing the size a little bit to get that form above the fold? That was 12, 13% increase? That's awesome.

John Grimshaw:

We're almost done with the split test but I think it's going to end out around 10% lift but that's still kind of insane so really really good sign.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, any tools that you recommend for heat map testing and some of that or I'm sure there's several that are good but any thoughts there?

John Grimshaw:

It's hard to go wrong. I really like Hot Jar because the cost is great, right? This tool shouldn't break the bank. You can do both heat maps and you can do screen recording where you're kind of looking at not just where did people scroll where did people click but what's the flow because I think that's something people missed is the story, right? You say, "Okay, wow the bounce rate..." the rate of people that visit this page and leave without doing anything seems really high but you don't understand what the cause of that is if you can't see, "Oh they scrolled down and they couldn't find the place to click. I think that's a really really cool part and there's also a, you can ask people questions basically. A little yes no question can pop up so it's really really robust. The price is great.

John Grimshaw:

True Conversion is another option. Some of the tools like Crazy Egg was a good one but man, it's pretty expensive for having all the same functions as everything else.

Brett Curry:

Got you, got you. Really cool. The reason then you're looking at traffic by device type is so you can find differences and anomalies and then so you can say well mobile way off the conversion rate is way lower than other places so let me dig in a little further and investigate what that experience was like?

John Grimshaw:

Exactly. I think that's the thing you can do that is kind of the easiest change to make is instead of doing the really broad look, right? You say, "Our conversion rate on the page is 35%." You say the conversion rate on the desktop is 50%. The conversion rate on mobile is 30% so the thing to optimize is where the conversion rate is lower than our benchmark and most of the traffic's coming in. I think that's kind of the trick to doing any of this lab coat hypothesis stuff is getting down to where you can actually make a meaningful change because if you just broadly... If you look at your website and say, "Hey, my website conversion rate is 2%." That's not a bad number but you don't know if there's any action you can take off of that because that's incredibly broad, right? You maybe having one or two people that come back and buy a ton of stuff every day and they're sort of skewing it towards the good performance or maybe there's some audience segment where you're spending all your money that's underperforming.

John Grimshaw:

Until you dig down or niche down I guess is the word in our particular industry. Until you niche down to something specific where you can identify the audience you're looking at, the action they're taking and the experience that they have when they're doing that, you can't do anything actionable but when you've got those three things together, suddenly you can build the story, you can come up with your list of hypotheses right that will solve the problem and figure out what your next step is. That's the thing I always want with any of the data stuff is I don't want to tell people, "Here's some numbers." I want to tell people, "Okay, here's a number, here's another number. Here are the two things you can do. Do one of these two things. I can't guarantee you they're going to fix the problem but if you take one of these actions something will change and it will help us answer this question of what's broken or maybe why is this working so well, right?

John Grimshaw:

Sometimes you find great opportunity and you want to be able to figure out what's working there so you can do it everywhere else in your site and everywhere else in your business.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, I think that's actually an area that people skip out on sometimes, right? We're often just happy to say, "That worked, and I don't know why but it worked so yay. I'm just going to keep pushing it." Well, if you don't know why it worked then you can't duplicate it or you can't know what to change then if the performance dips a little bit. Yeah, I think really as we look at this and again going back to, you don't have to have all the answers right up front but you've got to get visibility. You got to see what's going on, right? Then you've got to know what tools are at our disposal.

Brett Curry:

Just to make a quick comparison, I'm a really terrible handyman. I break things, I don't have patients, I don't know what tools do which is crazy because my dad is awesome at all those things. I just pay people because I don't know what I'm looking at, I don't know what to do, I don't know how to use tools right? What you guys are so good at, one of the things you guys are so good at is giving people insight. Letting them know how the tools work online and how to get visibility and how to go from Facebook is this scary place, online marketing is a scary place to... No, no, no. Here's how you get visibility, here's how you make changes, here's how you either ramp up a campaign that's doing great or correct a campaign that's not doing great. You guys are awesome with that.

Brett Curry:

I want to talk a little bit about some of the changes to the landscape, right? We were just talking about how sometimes CPM's go up and that's just the whole industry or all of Facebook costs going up. There's some other changes coming, right that have already happened and so I want to hear from you John first on just kind of what you're hearing, what you're seeing on a couple things and then Molly I want to talk to you about what you're hearing students say and a couple other things related to it. We've got the CCPA, the California Consumer Privacy Act I think is what it is.

John Grimshaw:

Nailed it.

Brett Curry:

Then some other things with iOS 14 coming out so there's a whole lot of doomsday stuff going on out there. What are you hearing and seeing from that perspective John?

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, so you mentioned the CCPA and I'll just quickly throw out my two cents on it which is that it's not that different than a different acronym, the GDPR which is the European privacy act and the core concept is good as a human being because it is-

Brett Curry:

Right, protect-

John Grimshaw:

Because data is valuable and companies have been sort of exploiting or having an opportunity to sort of make more money off the date because nobody knew what it was worth and we suddenly realized, "Wait a minute, all these personal attributes are actually super valuable and we need to be kind of protecting and respecting people's identities. The core concept there is very good. As an advertiser when you're used to being able to see, "Oh, I've got their IP, I've got their zip code, I know that they had lunch at 12:30 and it was a hamburger and some french fries. It's a little weird but I don't think it's bad. I think it's a good change. It's really just kind of a reflection of people need to opt in and so the CCPA stuff is you don't get to know all of this metadata is what they call it right? You don't necessarily get to know all of this stuff. You can know that Facebook showed somebody an ad and that they clicked over to your site. All that's fine but we're trying to just pull sort of the personal attributes out of it which is not a bad thing and it doesn't mean you can't target on Facebook which I think is a thing that scares people. It's just saying that there's no way to go back and trace behaviors to the individual.

John Grimshaw:

That's really what they want to cut out of the picture. I don't think the CCPA is bad and it just means that there's kind of less data being passed from Facebook to your ads manager and into your website. All that's pretty good. Now the other change, the one to iOS, that one makes me a little bit more nervous because it's not as much about protecting the person, right? Which I think is something I'm very much on board with. It's about... It's a little bit about Apple trying to kind of clench the fist and say, "We are running this data through our platform so we're going to get a little bit off the top of it and it is changing the way that events are triggering. In marketing on every platform we want people to take certain actions. Opt in or buy and those are events that get triggered and sent off to Facebook or to Google. I'm in the middle of the test, right? We're in the laboratory here right now. I don't have the conclusive final facts for you but I'll give you-

Brett Curry:

John's got the goggles on, lab coat, beakers with steam coming out, yeah.

John Grimshaw:

Exactly. I did a test on my phone, iOS 13.3 or something like that because I never update it and I created a brand new page set up a pixel, set up an event to fire. I checked it, "Hey it fired." Great, right? Okay, nothing to worry about. Someone said, "Oh I heard that Facebook's blocking or rather Apple's blocking the events from firing to Facebook now already. We thought this might happen with iOS 14. Well, I did a test yesterday and I am in the middle of quadruple checking myself but when I did the same test to check and see if the pixel fired off, it did not. Normally when I visit this page, it's supposed to send a note to Facebook that said, "Hey, this page got visited. I clicked this button that I set it to trigger. Well that didn't happen.

John Grimshaw:

When I did it on my computer, not on my phone it did happen so the initial data, not conclusive yet is that something has changed earlier than we even expected and I still see some events coming from iPhones so it doesn't mean that the global blackout on Facebook pixels on iPhones is happened, but I kind of think that the fears of iOS 14 got here a little bit sooner and it's going to change the way that we make decisions as advertisers because the thing that Facebook got really good at in 2020 I would say and Molly should definitely weigh in on this but is optimizing for those events that we want, the purchases or the opt ins and it used to be you had to have 50 in a week and honestly Facebook got pretty smart where you didn't need that as much anymore. You could have a smaller budget and you could have less people purchasing or less people opting in and it could still optimize but it looks like all of that may be going away so I'm sure Facebook has a workaround in mind but there may not be a quick and easy clip to our process in the next few weeks. I don't know, it's going to be an interesting September, I'll tell you that.

Brett Curry:

You guys have already seen this. Have you seen this impact campaigns so far Molly or is this more an isolated test you're looking at John?

Molly Pittman:

I think this is part of what's going on, I do.

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, I think that we saw these big changes. It seems like CPM's went up and I got the notification about the phone update that I didn't install the week that all this happened and so that weekend is where everything... everything changed. I think there's definitely a correlation.

Molly Pittman:

And stuff like this has... Every year something like this happens that it's like I think it's always good to stay grounded in the reality of what marketing used to be too when we were talking about this earlier you relied on people putting in a certain coupon code to track your billboard sales or magazine ads, print ads.

Brett Curry:

You're stacking literal coupons, right and you're counting them and you've got codes on them. Think back to the way marketing was a few decades ago or even a decade ago.

Molly Pittman:

Exactly, so obviously this is frustrating but it's good to keep that in mind and realize that stuff like this props up. This is what evolves our industry. We will figure it out, Facebook will figure it out. I'm sure they're aware of this. Facebook doesn't want this to happen because they know that the less data that they're receiving number one, Facebook's most important currency other than money, well even more than money is data.

Brett Curry:

Data.

Molly Pittman:

They don't want this to happen. They're pretty darn smart. They're looking at it from that side but also from the side of as advertisers with those events not triggering now Facebook is not as smart as it usually is to know exactly what's working and how to continue to do that for you. That's the frustrating part and how this could be contributing to this real increase in CPA and ad costs I think is coming down to the machine isn't getting the same amount of data. Not only can we not track when an event is happening which is frustrating but it's also the machine is fed by data. This is machine learning and so if it doesn't have as much data the system's going to slow a bit and just not be as smart. I know it will get figured out and it's something again to just factor into the story. There are thousands of variables at play when we talk about running a digital marketing campaigns. You never truly know exactly why something happened because there are so many factors at play. This is just another data point for us as marketers to say, "This is part of the story of what's going on right now and how can we learn as much about it as possible and also how can we overcome this?"

Molly Pittman:

We're in the mode right now, John's figuring out, let's do these tests, see what we think the impact is and then the next step will be okay, well what do we think this means?

Brett Curry:

Yeah. We have to be good at pivoting, right? We were talking about the marketing classics and people have built brands from scratch, grown brands from scratch forever.

Molly Pittman:

We're so spoiled and we're so spoiled in... We're like, "We can't track this thing. We're angry."

Brett Curry:

Yeah, it does create real problems. If you've built your business on Facebook's algorithm and now that's slowed down, you've got some adjusting to do but then you get better at remarketing and you get better at email marketing and you get better at keying in our your message. There's always been the funnel of reaching cold people and then pulling them through the process and that's always going to be the case. I think you're right, I think Facebook is going to figure some things out and I think we'll have to adjust, I think there's going to be some hard work in the meantime but-

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, I think our attribution might have to adjust. There are a lot of advertisers saying, "Hey my results look a lot worse in Facebook but my sales are still the same right which really proves that this is a lack of tracking so it's also just realizing keep big picture, right? Don't hit the panic mode. It will be okay and it's good to be informed and understand but don't stay in that place. Spend your time in that creative flow we talked about.

Brett Curry:

Absolutely. Love it. Let's do this, we just have a couple minutes left which is a real bummer man. I'm just getting fired up. I want to ask you-

Molly Pittman:

Let's keep talking.

Brett Curry:

A million more questions left. We'll have to do part two coming up but John as we're dealing with all these issues and there's going to be more issues that face us in the coming years and we've got holiday prep coming up so lots and lots of traffic coming to our e-commerce stores in the very near future, to make sure that our analytics and our data's in as good of place as it can be, what are some of the places you spot check? Where are some places you look to see, hey these are relatively quick things I can do that have the most bang for their buck to make sure I'm on the right track as far as data and analytics go?

John Grimshaw:

Yeah, great question and I will start this off by saying Google Analytics isn't having much change to what it's doing yet, right? In 2022 ask me again because I know there's some updates coming to Chrome but for at least the next couple years you can rely on Google Analytics to kind of do the same stuff it's always done but there's a few things that I really really like to kind of jump in and get a sense of before I am going to drive a big chunk of traffic. A lot of times we think about the holidays as these kind of big events but really if you step back and kind of get unemotional about it, a holiday is just a chance for you to drive a lot of traffic to your website through different channels than usual because people are in a buying mood. They are ready to purchase and so maybe they're clicking on ads, maybe they're just searching around for the perfect gift for dads over 45 that are good with tools but don't know how to use computers, right? There's just going to be-

Brett Curry:

I know some of those people, yeah.

John Grimshaw:

There's going to be a ton of people visiting your site so the kind of three things that I recommend everybody look at, number one is your product page conversion rate and even if you're an info business, you still have product pages, right? These are places where you're describing the things and have a link that says, add to cart, or buy now. This is probably the most important page on anybody's website and you should have quite a few of them usually if you're an e-commerce store, you may have 1,000 of them. If you're an information product business you may only have two or three or four but you want to jump in and get a sense of what performance looks like right now because this is where you can kind of make some small tweaks today, you can set up some .. tests today and make sure that you're well set up for the future.

John Grimshaw:

You want to shoot for, I would say for products that cost, and it varies a lot by industry, right so these are let's say very, very broad benchmarks but you want to make sure that you're getting about 10% of people who click on the add to cart or the buy now or whatever button roughly from your product page for products that are less than $1,000. If it's more than $1,000 you're looking probably closer to four, 4%, 5% just because it's a much bigger commitment. Again, that's grain of salt because that's broad but if you see that those numbers don't quite match up, if you're getting one or 2% of people clicking to the next step from your product page, that is a place you should be putting those heat maps that I talked about. Watching the way people scroll around on the page because that's going to give you a lot of insight into what information should I change and just side note on that the number one thing to test on any page right and you can do a simple test. You don't have to buy a thousand dollar piece of software to do this is your headline because the offer is the most important part of every page.

John Grimshaw:

The headline is where you make the offer, right? It's where you put the value that the person is going to get. It's where you identify the problem they're facing. It's where you really sell the experience and so if you have a bad headline that's the first thing I'd look at. The next thing I'd recommend people look at is what we call bounce rate. I mentioned it once already on this podcast but it's basically a measure of if somebody visits a page and doesn't interact with it at all and then leaves that's called a bounce and you want your bounce rate to be roughly below 70% so if you're seeing pages that you're sending a lot of traffic to and pages that you know a lot of people are going to be visiting during the holidays, you want to jump in there and try to tweak those a little bit so that people are sticking around and taking actions, right? It could be as simple as having a little popup in the bottom right corner. That's so popular and it really works where you can say, "Hey, have any questions? Chat with my team right now."

John Grimshaw:

That's a great way to get people to engage on a page. You could put a video on the page people can watch. There's all different kinds of things you could do that are not complicated or difficult but just make it engaging. Make it something where they interact with it and you find a very clear mapping of the more interactive a page is the more likely it is to get people to take action. That's a really good one. Then the last one that I think is really super important, not one a lot of people do is look for broken links because we all have these nebulous spider webbing sites that have existed for two years for some people, 20 years for some people which is kind of crazy to think about but there were a lot of pages on there that you don't really use anymore and you forgot existed but Google has indexed them and your site points to them also and so you want to just do a quick analysis and see hey, what pages on my site are people visiting that are just 404's? Once you figure that out redirect those links to the right place.

John Grimshaw:

If you have the hot holiday gift guide for 2020 and it's showing a people link to a product page that you don't use anymore, you're sending all these people to go check this thing out and when they're ready to buy what happens? Oh, well 404 page, I'm out of here. I'm going to bounce and that is such an easy thing to fix to really just make sure the experience is great, right which is what digital marketing is truly about at the end of the day and to make sure people can take the next logical action.

Brett Curry:

Love it, love it. Fantastic. Those are three amazing spot checks. You got to dig into that. I know we're up against a hard time stop here so Molly Pittman, for those whether it's an e-commerce store owner or it's a media buyer or someone just saying my business, I need more Molly Pittman in my business. How can-

John Grimshaw:

Everybody does.

Brett Curry:

It's true, it's true, we all should be saying this. How can they either get involved with that 10 day boot camp or check out other traffic Smart Marketer things? What should they do next? I can link to all this in the show notes.

Molly Pittman:

Yeah, well link to the boot camp and right now enrollment is actually open for a very special class that we teach twice a year. It's called Train My Traffic Person and it's a mentorship where we bring in about 150 businesses and take you guys through... Or media buyers. You don't have to own a business. You could own an agency. A four month program where we're live, John and I for 90 minutes twice a week. The format is we'll teach some sort of topic and then the next call that week we'll actually review your work and we have other coaches in that group too that just make sure that it's not just knowledge that you're getting but also feedback because I know that's where a lot of people get stuck. How do I implement this in my business or here I'm stuck. Here's a screenshot of my campaign. What should I do? Here's my ad copy. Do you have any other ideas? Yeah, we sell out every time which is exciting. We're really grateful for that. This is the fifth time that we've held this class so check that out guys at TrainMyTrafficPerson.com if you're interested. Otherwise, SmartMarketer.com. We put out a lot of free content. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, on the interwebs.

Brett Curry:

Everywhere on the interwebs.

Molly Pittman:

Thanks for having us, yes.

Brett Curry:

Molly thank you so much. Thanks for joining and sharing your wisdom. Awesome as always and we'll link to all that in the show notes and hey just quick teaser. There is some dude that you may know who's on this podcast that also shows up to Team Traffic and talks a little bit about Google traffic and YouTube traffic on occasion. I'd love to hang out with you in Team Traffic as well. Really appreciate you John. Thanks for bringing the thunder man. Thanks for bringing the wisdom and the insight and really really good and so yeah, I'll link to everything. Do check these guys out and what they're doing and with that, until next time thank you for listening.

John Grimshaw:

Thanks for having us.

Molly Pittman:

See ya.

Have questions or requests? Contact us today!

Thank you for reaching out! We'll be in touch soon.
Oops! Something went wrong! 

 More Episodes

Episode 137
Kevin Urrutia - Chester Travel

SEO, Content & Influencer Marketing

Kevin Urrutia and team at Chester Travel are getting creative and hustling to drive sales and set themselves up for success in the future.

Episode 136
Chris Lynch - Everyday California

Line Extension and Licensing to Fuel Growth

When should you partner, license, go on your own, or scrap an idea?