Audience Targeting with Google Optimize’s Personalization

Paid SearchTech

In late 2018, Google launched a new feature in Google Optimize called ‘Personalization.’ Unsurprisingly, it lets you personalise the page experience for user devices. With the plethora of devices available, and heightened consumer expectations of good user experience, it’s important to Google that website owners be able to deliver excellent mobile-first experiences. In aid of this, Google is building free tools to help proactive agencies and clients serve customers with rich and meaningful user experiences. In Google’s press release late last year, they mentioned the tool was built to easily deploy winning variants after an experiment. In this blog, however, I will be talking about hacks to help marketers quickly deploy pages when there are no development resources available. 

The suggestions in this blog are for marketers who know when a page’s UX is not ideal for the intended user and want to improve it in order to maximise conversions. Ideally, you’d always be able to do this through a proper development process, but as we all know, this isn’t always possible at the speed or cost we’d like. The tips in this blog will help you improve your landing pages (and your conversion rates) quickly. As always, we recommend having your developers deploy these changes when they’re available, but these hacks will hold in the meantime.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.

To access Personalization, log into Google Optimize and select Create Experience on the top left corner. You will see the Personalization option, select Personalization, add an editor page (the page you want to edit), name the experience then click CREATE

For this blog, we’re assuming you have set up your tags correctly. If you haven’t done this correctly, our previous blog can help.

Once you have this done you can now move on to setting up the audience targeting rules. To access audience targeting options, click audience targeting rules under the MAKE SITE CHANGES button. This will show you all available targeting options

The Optimize team have done a great job of building an extensive list of targeting options. This blog will cover all the basic targeting options available on the free version of Google Optimize.

Targeting Options

Device Category

Let’s start with the Device category. This is a simple targeting option that will serve the edited page to the device you choose. This option is very useful when the client has not designed with mobile in mind. It allows us to quickly improve the mobile experience with no additional dev work. Start by choosing the device you want to target, then click ADD.

Once you have chosen your device you can move on to editing the page. When you get to the editing console, make sure you are looking at the right variant based on your audience targeting. In this example, we’ve chosen mobile audience targeting so we need to look at a mobile device. I have chosen iPhone X but feel free to look at any other mobile model you prefer.

You can then make all relevant changes to the mobile page and then deploy. 

Google Ads

The Google Ads personalisation options are great for sending users to specific pages based on your Google Ads campaign, Ad group or Keywords. Before you can use this feature you need to link Optimize to Google Ads. 

You simply do this by logging into Google Ads and then navigate to Tools & Settings > Setup – Linked Accounts > Google Analytics. 

Once you’re there, simply turn on the Google Optimize sharing toggle.

Optimize will then sync with Google Ads and pull in all your account’s details. Now you can use these to target specific Campaigns, Ad groups or Keywords. You can also include additional Campaigns and Ad groups and target these in conjunction with your original targeting settings

Behaviour

Google Optimize’s behaviour targeting settings allow you to serve different optimised pages based on page referrer and/or returning users. We personally think this is one of the coolest features in Personalization!

The referrer option is very useful if you have affiliates and want to serve different optimized pages for each referrer. What we find more interesting is returning user targeting. This is a powerful feature to serve different page designs based on returning user behaviour. 

Here is an example of what we did in-house. We created 2 behaviour personalisations based on the time that has passed since the Google cookie was created in the browser. The first time frame is 1 second to 7 days and the second time frame was any period longer than 7 days. Our default homepage has copy that reads ‘A clever digital agency’. First time users are served with this default message. After this first visit, we set up our homepage to serve two different sets of copy depending on how long it has been since the user’s first visit.  

Default message: 

Behaviour Personalisation 1 – 1 second to 7 days 

Behaviour Personalisation 2 – 7 days+

Geography

Geography targeting is fairly straightforward. You can target audiences based on City, Region, Metro and Country. This is quite useful when you have a multinational campaign with limited resources in deploying landing pages for PPC. You can use this feature to quickly localise your offering.

Technology 

Technology targeting is quite handy if your product or service is browser, OS or mobile device sensitive. If you had an ad for an app download but wanted to serve different pages to Android vs iOs users – this feature would be great in that case. 

Closing thoughts

Understanding the basic targeting strategies is a good start but if you want to maximise the value of Google Optimize, you’ll need to combine the audience targets based on your requirements. This is very helpful when running Google Ads campaigns under strict CPA targets. You can combine Google Ads with devices, behaviours, technology, location in either independent or multiple combinations. 

These features offer a great starting point for anyone beginning to use Google Optimize personalisation. 

The only downside is that the free version only offers 10 personalisations/experiments at any given time. There are also other restricted features like access to Google Audiences. But in comparison to competitor prices, Google Optimize offers significant value.

Overall, Google Optimize is an amazing tool delivering great value to anyone keen to learn about CRO. Feel free to get in touch to learn more or share your insights you’ve picked up along your journey.