By Maciej Wronski

Search funnels can be a great help when creating a successful remarketing strategy. It may sound like a complicated tool to use, but let’s look at it a bit closer.

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The real power behind search funnels

First off, search funnels is a tool that lets you analyse how users convert. We can look at conversions from various angles to make our analysis more accurate and meaningful. For example, we may want to know the path that leads to a conversion. Often a user’s first touch with our website is initiated by a generic campaign, but a few days later all they can remember is our brand name… and this is exactly when our brand campaign comes in handy. But, at the end of the day the general campaign deserves to take some credit for the conversion, not just the brand campaign. This is when search funnels come in.

You may be familiar with search funnel reports, particularly the time lag report, which gives you important insights into how long your customers may be taking to purchase after first landing on your site. In this blog I will provide examples of how the time lag report can be used to form remarketing strategies, but first, let’s take a closer look at the search funnel tool and what it incorporates.

Where to find search funnels

So where do you find this mysterious, yet very useful tool? If you navigate to the Tools and Analysis drop drown in the top menu and click on Conversions, you will see an option for Search Funnels in the bottom left corner.

Where to find search funnels

Once you have clicked on search funnels you will see a few default reports that you can use to find out about your users’ search behaviour. Some of the most interesting reports are top paths, time lag and path length.

Here is what these reports show you:

  • Top paths – shows the conversion path at campaign, ad group or keyword level. There will be many instances when your client looked for one of your products, clicked on your ad, browsed and left. Users will often then do some more research, and then type in your brand name to find your site again. If that’s the case, in AdWords the conversion will be attributed to your brand ad group, not the ad group that initiated the whole process. This could be misleading as you may think that your product keywords don’t convert as well as you thought they would. And this is when the Top Path report comes in handy – it allows you to see how many times a particular campaign, ad group or a keyword was part of a path that ended with a conversion.
  • Path length – shows how many clicks users make before they convert.
  • Time lag – this report shows how many days users take to convert after the first click on a PPC ad.

Let’s focus on the time lag report and how we can utilise the information it provides

First, make sure that we have selected a history window of 90 days (in the top right corner).

90 days window

Now, one of my clients’ time lag reports shows that 14% of all conversions happened after day 30+ counting from the day they first clicked on our PPC ad. This tells me that after 30 days there are a number of people still doing their research with an intention to purchase.

From a remarketing perspective this is very useful. There are 2 different ways we can use this information.

  • Create a remarketing audience for people who last visited our site between 30 and 60 days ago. This will refresh the memories of potential customers that the products are still available. After all, we know they are probably still in the market with an intention to buy. We can get creative with our messaging too, by using enticing and relevant message such as - “Is choosing the right bathroom difficult? We are here to help. Speak to our friendly advisers today”. By presenting a highly relevant message for the appropriate time in a user’s purchase cycle you can expect a higher degree of engagement and thus increase your chances of getting a conversion.
  • From the same report I know that 27% of all users converted after day 12+. In order to win these users quicker, we can create a remarketing audience for people who visited our site within the last 12 days and target them with messages such as “last days of the sale”, or “until stocks last” to induce a sense of urgency. If we want to enhance the effect we can bid much higher so that our ads show more frequently. In this scenario, we are making use of an aggressive remarketing approach trying to grab the attentions of those indecisive 27% of potential customers.

Will it work?

Well, that we don’t know until we test it.

However, here is how to check if your efforts are bringing expected results:

In the first scenario it’s quite simple – just check the performance of your remarketing campaign against your cost of sale targets. If it brings the expected results, great. If it doesn’t,optimise!

In the second scenario this is what you need to do: select a time frame with a good volume of data before you launch your new idea and calculate the percentage of conversions coming in after 12+ days. Next, do the same, choosing an equal time period, but this time for the period when you ran your remarketing experiment. Calculate the percentage of conversions coming in after 12+ days and compare the results.

If the second percentage is lower yet your overall conversion volume is still as high - well done! There is a good chance that it worked well for you and you managed to convince your potential customers to convert quicker.

Next, tell your client. They always like to hear when you are working hard to bring more cash into their pockets!

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