How to advertise luxury services on Google Ads

How to advertise luxury services on Google Ads

Google Ads has come a long way since its inception. While there are several other big-name competitors on the market present, Google Ads still holds a dominant market share of 70% of total ad revenue for 2019.

Just a few years ago expertise (and experience) required to successfully run a Google Ads campaign wasn’t nearly as high as it is today, especially in the competitive markets.

Google Ads has grown, drastically improved, and we, marketers, have to grow (and learn) with it.

That is why it is critical to use every tool available in one’s toolbox to maximize profits and prosper in this increasingly challenging market.

This article will cover a specific part of Google Ads advertising and it concerns advertising.

I will be making an assumption that you are at least acquainted with how Google Ads works and won’t be covering the basics such as what is CPC or CTR.

I have spent a better part of my PPC career catering exclusively to the businesses providing high-price and luxury services, including limousine services, private jet rentals, exclusive spa resorts, and so on. Using some of (or all of) these methods, I have managed to significantly improve the accounts and in one case, improve sales by over 1300% – which is still my personal record.

I don’t claim to know everything, but am more than happy to share my knowledge with you.

Table of Contents

Target audience and challenges

Let us begin by talking a bit about our audience.

As you can presume, we are talking about the people who have the means to afford the price tag that goes with renting fancy cars, private jets, or a weekend at a spa for 1500 USD/day. Whether they are successful business people, royalty, or heirs to an empire, they all have one thing in common – they are very rich.

Also, targeting depends on the business you are managing Ads for, whether it targets only business professionals or is in the leisure industry, focusing on the whole population of wealthy individuals.

This is where the first major difference pops up.

If the business in question targets only business professionals (especially C-suite professionals), your targeting options are even more narrow.

We are talking about business professionals themselves and their assistants.

So far with the data that I have, this is what the demographics looks like for accounts targeting business professionals:

 18-2425-3435-4445-5455-6465+
Male4.34%9.39%14.53%15.77%9.39%5.31%
Female1.95%7.62%11.07%8.41%7%5.23%

 

(based on data from four accounts with combined time of nine years)

Men are also converting better than women, having 58.82% of conversions as compared to 41.18% of conversions that were made by women (6771 vs 4741 conversions).

As you can see, men are more present in conversions, with the age group of 35-54 accounting for a little less than a third of all conversions combined.

So, if you are just starting in this niche, focusing on that particular age group should give you the best bang for your buck.

They also don’t have a lot of time, so they don’t spend a lot of time going through every detail of the website. I will get back on this later in this article.

As far as the leisure group goes, the numbers are a bit different.

 
 18-2425-3435-4445-5455-6465+
Male4.77%11.78%12.43%7.3%5.47%4.17%
Female5.63%9.12%15.37%10.55%8.18%5.23%

 

(based on data from eight accounts with fourteen years of combined time)

This is where the situation changes and where women lead the conversion ratio with 54.05% as compared to men with 45.95% (26765 vs 22754 conversions).

To reiterate, the challenges of advertising to this audience is a small percentage of people that are eligible for said services, which is both blessing and a curse.

Before we dig in the specifics of Google Ads for luxury services, we have to cover some of the basics, which may seem obvious but I do feel the need to mention them, as they are as integral to the success of your campaigns as Google Ads campaigns themselves.

Importance of having a proper website

Yes, I presume most of you reading this already know it, but that’s not always the case with clients, who sometimes have different ideas about the website, so to speak.

I will try to briefly cover what is important to have website-wise and why it is so.

First off, I have never seen a $1000 website in this niche that was worth the money.

Cheap websites are definitely NOT going to allow you to run a successful Ads campaign on them.

No matter how good you might be with Ads, you are still running a problem of channeling all that traffic to a bad website where people just won’t convert.

I know, shocking.

This goes double for luxury and high-priced services. If you plan on charging five-star prices, you got to have a five-star website.

It has to be meticulously created, with excellent UI/UX.

If I have to put it shortly – it has to provide a seamless experience every step of the way, while also giving an unmistakable impression that whatever the visitor came in for is going to cost them.

To be fair, the website also doesn’t have to be overly expensive as well, but it needs to have all the characteristics I have listed above.

An expensive website can also be done badly – mostly because clients are very stubborn in their demands on how the website should look like.

The most obvious examples are high-end restaurants and event spaces.

Run a few quick Google searches and you are bound to see at least one with one or more unique and impractical features.

To give you an example from my personal experience – I took over running Ads for a certain event space in Manhattan which had absolutely atrocious results, with CPA of over $1100.

Manhattan event space market IS competitive, but it’s not THAT competitive.

Taking a closer look at the website, it was apparent that even if you wanted to rent their space, it was incredibly difficult to get in touch with them.

The main page consisted of 4 sliders that moved vertically, they couldn’t be stopped, there were no CTAs and the menu was very difficult to find.

Reworking the website immediately solved the problem and brought down the CPA to $120. Problem solved.

The website also needs to have excellent loading times, especially for mobile phones, as long loading times can quite negatively affect the conversion rate (CVR).

Adding website chat is a must in 2020 and can give you a significant boost in engagement and conversion rates.

I have accounts where chat accounts up to 30% of all conversion from Ads, so I highly recommend that you get it on your website as well.

Be prepared to have some low-quality leads, that’s the one downside of it.

Adding AMP (accelerate mobile pages) whenever possible can be very beneficial, as I have had several keywords where the quality score was tanked because of lack of AMP, even though every other KPI imaginable was excellent.

I’ll be leaving out split testing and A/B testing for later in the article, even though you may feel that this segment would be its natural place.

Ad copy

An ideal headline consists of 6 words from a vocabulary of a 15-year-old where one of those letters is “you”.

Or at least something close to that. Numerous blog posts are covering this exact topic, but I’ll reduce it here only on the intricacies of writing effective ad copy for the case in question.

To begin with some fairly basic stuff – grammar and spelling mistakes should never happen.

“Best” as a word doesn’t exist in this niche and you can’t use it.

“Best luxury spa in town” is both the most generic ad copy you can write and also very detrimental to what you are trying to achieve for your client.

No qualified visitor from this niche is going to take you seriously if you say you are the best.

To quote Tywin Lannister: “Any man who must say “I am the king” is no true king”.

I know he’s a made-up character, but he’s absolutely right.

Your job is essentially to address the needs and/or intentions of your clients.

They are clicking on your ad because you are providing a service they are looking for.

The job of the ad and the whole copy is to sell that service.

If that copy is filled with superlatives, it’s going to be at least a bit suspicious.

Mostly because they are hard to prove and also pointless if you think about what is expected of the services you provide.

You cater to a very specific audience, one that is more than ready to pay handsomely for the service, but that service is expected to have a much higher standard of quality.

The whole idea for your copy is to sound like the most professional, legitimate service in the market with the utmost authority in the subject without actually saying it at all.

To be the best is very hard to prove (and measure) in this niche, but to be most professional is pretty much the “conditio sine qua non”, and is expected every step of the way if you expect the clients to spend thousands of dollars for a service that may cost fifty elsewhere.

Specifics of ad copy

While the common sense (and marketing training) usually tells you to write as simple as possible in your ad copy, this niche is a clear exception to that rule.

We have done scores of split testing and A/B testing in the subject and have found that using more eloquent vocabulary in your ads does bring better results – up to a point.

This has especially been true for adjectives (exquisite, impeccable, meticulous, and so on), and only partially effective for nouns.

Of course, this makes sense, since most of the audience you are targeting are highly educated and therefore have a broader vocabulary.

Using more eloquent versions of some words in your copy allows you to add another level of emotionalization of your ad. That may give you an edge in performance.

This, of course, poses a completely natural follow-up question – how far should I go with it?

And my answer is – I am still not sure, it depends from case to case.

It should be split-tested to see exactly how far you can go.

But for starters, you should go with what your experience tells you and move on from there.

Another word that doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of a PPC person doing luxury or high-priced services is “cheap”.

The price angle is not something that may effectively work as an approach altogether and more often than not – it backfires.

I have made several mistakes in that regard, especially in the limo service niches with price extensions and I would sincerely advise you to avoid it.

It attracts the wrong kind of crowd, the sales cycles are longer, more difficult and in general are simply not something you should do, in my opinion at least.

If you have packages that are cheaper when compared to the rest of the offers, a good way to approach is to make them being the cheapest into an advantage. You can frame them as “value packages”, “affordable options” and so on, but definitely not “cheap”.

Another thing that we have tried in improving our copy is text analysis using machine learning.

We have been mainly using Cloud Natural Language (CNL) by Google on three separate occasions with about 3 months apart between them with the last one being about 2 months ago (end of May 2020).

CNL uses machine learning to reveal the structure and meaning of the text and gives you the ability to extract information and better understand the sentiment and conversations you are having with your customers.

It enables you to analyze text. We have used it to split test our copy and see what can be improved.

The result is – not whole much. It gave worse results in almost every relevant KPI, even though the model predicted it had strong sentiment (emotionalization) and that on paper it should work better than it did.

I have deep faith that Google will do great things with CNL (in fact, it’s already doing it), but so far syntax analysis with machine learning for creating better ad copy hasn’t given us better results.

In that regard, I advise that you still rely on the good, old experience and common sense in writing copy.

Heat Mapping

This is a very useful tool for any marketer, not just for this niche.

Heat mapping software is a data analysis tool that uses colors to visualize user interaction with the website.

It’s displayed using colors, with red usually reserved for spots with a high density of interactions and blue for low-density ones.

So, if a user is visiting a web page, you’ll get a pretty good idea which areas of your website get more attention and which area do not.

Understanding how people use your website is crucial and heat mapping can be a very effective tool in your arsenal to do just that.

It gives you a clear picture of what needs to be improved and where.

You can see the places people scroll through, click on, or plain simply which parts are being ignored.

You can use that information to refine your website and optimize your CVR (which is the end goal anyway), especially on landing pages.

And to be perfectly fair, it’s another way to understand your users, which I feel is one of the most important parts of our jobs as marketers.

Advanced tracking

Before I can talk about remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) I need to cover some of the basics of advanced tracking.

What I mean by advanced tracking are the methods that go past the usual Analytics/Google Tag Manager stuff. It’s basically the lead-gen version of enhanced e-commerce tracking (without giving the developer a stroke for having to scrape through the data layers). These methods give us valuable, and more importantly, quite granular information about the audience.

This is critical because I’ve already mentioned that one of the main challenges of being successful in this niche is getting to the right audience as it is incredibly specific.

To an extent, all of these methods can be seen as trying to improve the post-click experience of your visitors, but I’ll expand on that a bit later.

Scroll depth

Scroll depth allows you to see how far down your page the user scrolled down. It’s a good way to see how well the users are digesting your content and, more importantly, gives you the ability to turn sometimes pointless metrics such as bounce rate to something far more useful.

Scroll depth can be set up in increments. I usually do it in 25% increments, so I know how many people have scrolled down to 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of my websites.

Scroll depth in Google Tag Manager

Scroll depth is incredibly easy to set up in Google Tag Manager (GTM) and is a very lightweight solution to get some valuable information about your visitors.

Several solutions do offer this same feature as part of their functionality, but you can’t go wrong with just setting it up yourself, as it takes less than five minutes to do so.

I also have to note that you shouldn’t go overboard with setting up too low increments as it will overload the data layer and do more harm than good.

Reader vs. Scanner

Reader vs scanner

This is another method of advanced content tracking and a natural extension of what scroll depth tracking does.

It’s a fairly old method, but the one that still works like a charm.

Basically, it uses events that are tracked when the post loads and later on when the user reaches certain thresholds, with the bottom of the page being the last one.

The final result is incredibly valuable and tells you how many of your users read the whole page and how many just scan through it (hence the name – reader vs. scanner).

I can tell you right now that on average the ratio is about 20:80 in the favor of scanners, but with the exact numbers for your website, you can use that information to further refine your copy.

If you have more scanners than usual, one of the ways to approach this is to focus on the headlines and tell “your story” with headlines.

If you have more readers, you can add more value propositions, or address pain points through the copy and it will get better results.

Here is the link on how to do it for your website.

It can be done both via GTM or with Analytics, so take your pick.

User engagement measurement

 

The most appropriate candidate for the “200 IQ” meme.

I felt mind blown when I first found out about this (I was still a beginner back then), I felt like a God when I first set it up.

Since then, I regularly hate setting it up for the accounts, but they are well worth the effort.

Let’s say a user visits your landing page, spends 5 minutes there, and leaves.

What’s the bounce rate and average time on page? It’s 100% and 0:00.

 Using Analytics and GTM and implementing this method you will get a pretty good idea of how people are interacting with your website.

When a visitor lands on your page, it starts sending event codes every X amount of time (I usually use 5-second intervals).

By creating two custom dimensions you are able to get TRUE engagement on your website, as seen below.

example user engagement

Simo Ahava has a very good article on this very subject here.

Using custom dimensions (for example, combining it with ‘reader vs. scanner’ listed above) you get a quite more granular insight into how the audience behaves.

You can further amplify that with content grouping if applicable.

This all leads us to RLSA.

Remarketing list for search ads (RLSA)

By now, you should be getting a pretty good idea why we have been bothering with advanced tracking.

The information that we have using the methods listed above gives us an incredibly granular view of the audience and the lists that we create to reflect that.

Practical applications are endless for our niche.

You can cross-reference the methods listed above to create lists of the most suitable candidates for the best version of your ads depending on the case.

I’ll take a limo services sector here as an example.

The first list is comprised of the aforementioned scanners that converted.

These are usually C-level businessmen which do not have a lot of time to go through the website and are the most important out of the three.

On average, each converter comes back 2.44 times a year, so the lifetime value of each customer is quite high.

The second list is comprised of the aforementioned scanners which didn’t convert.

They are served with to-the-point ads that do not go in great depth copy-wise.

The third list consists of the readers who didn’t convert.

If we go by the book, we are supposed to make a series of ads to convince them, but that usually drives up the CPA too high to justify that, so we just skip it.

I am not 100% sure, but I think that most assistants fall into this category.

Also, if you have a lot of readers who don’t convert, it’s a good sign that your website copy needs to be worked on further.

This is just one of the examples.

There isn’t a 100%-proof way on how to approach this, so you will have to use your best judgment for every case, as there are plenty of variations.

Single Keyword Ad Group vs. Single Theme Ad Group (SKAG vs STAG)

A while ago, SKAGs used to be very efficient.

Single keyword in each ad group gave you a high level of control over what you could do with your budgets (whether it was a micro-budget, a shared budget between a few campaigns, or just a bunch of ad groups in one campaign with a shared budget between them).

And marketers love them, there were many benefits to it.

Some of them remain, but there was a significant shift in their effectiveness lately.

Google has implemented a change important enough to make SKAGs usable in fewer situations and that change is called close variants.

The term Doctor matches a physician, lawyer, attorney, and so on.

Marketers used to bid more aggressively on SKAGs because they were more controllable, they had a higher degree of certainty in behavior, especially if there is a lot of dependable data.

With close variants, it has all changed and it has caused a slow and painful demise of SKAGs.

For the most part, there has been a steady migration to single theme ad groups (STAG) which focuses on themes rather than syntax.

You add a certain number of similarly themed keywords (usually three to six) per ad group and build on that.

STAG account structure has been a good thing for this niche, as it cuts down the amount of physical work that needs to be done on the account, noticeably.

It allows you to structure the account in several different ways.

Some of them are:

  • service or category of service as a campaign
  • location or a specific market as a campaign
  • anything in between, such as profitability of specific services

Budgeting is also a lot easier and it doesn’t involve staring at spreadsheets for hours for big campaigns.

Anyway, I highly suggest you make the switch to STAGs if you haven’t, I can’t stress enough how useful they are for this niche.

Silo structure

It is a bit of an old-school trick that can be (at best) partially replaced by Dynamic Search Ads, but I feel that we should cover it structure-wise and especially if you are handling bigger budgets.

It’s also applicable not only for this niche, but I feel like it’s worth sharing.

Say that you have a lot of traffic coming on your website or that that you have several keywords that are bringing in a high ratio of that traffic.

The idea is that we could separate those keywords in different ad groups (silos) with the same match types.

The stricter the match type, the higher the CPC (Exact>Phrase>Broad Modified).

Therefore, the ad groups would look like this:

Ad Group 1 = [keyword1]
Ad Group 1 = “keyword1” –[keyword1]
Ad Group 1 = +keyword1 – “keyword1” – [keyword1]

Ad Group 2 = [keyword2]
Ad Group 2 = “keyword2” –[keyword2]
Ad Group 2 = +keyword2 – “keyword2” – [keyword2]

Ad Group n = [keywordn]
Ad Group n = “keywordn” –[keywordn]
Ad Group n = +keywordn – “keywordn” – [keywordn]

This campaign structure can be set up immediately for the most searched terms with a reliable estimate on a number of searchers and CPC.

It gives a greater degree of control and, for the lack of a better term, incredible granularity for your campaign.

It can also help you flatten the curve (no pun intended) in the budget, saving you more funds in the process.

The downside is that this is a time-consuming process and I wouldn’t recommend it for any account without a serious amount of traffic.

 

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

I’ll try to explain the process itself instead of showing you how to exactly do it, for the sake of saving time (and for the sake of me not being a developer, since I always have to ask my colleague to do a part of it).

I am sure you already know that you can insert search queries into the ad copy itself, something that is usually done for carefully selected keywords in an exact match.

Before I proceed, I can’t stress enough how important common sense here is, and that, being meticulous really, really, really helps also.

I learned this the hard way.

Anyway, if you do detailed keyword research, you can scoop up all the long-tail keywords with low volume and use DKI to your advantage.

Let’s say someone searches for “private jet NY LA”.

It only has 40 searches a month.

You make an ad with those exact keywords inserted into it.

After the ad is clicked on, it will lead you to a custom landing page that has pulled that exact search query from the URL and used it in the copy.

So the headline on that exact landing page could say something like “RELIABLE PRIVATE JET NY LA FLIGHTS”. And you build on that at the entire landing page, not just the headline.

Basically, you can use all those long-tail keywords, make one landing page where the copy is dynamically changed, and send traffic to that landing page which uses the exact search terms.

It allows you to create 100% intent-accurate landing pages as if you’ve made a landing page just for the people searching those low volume keywords.

Of course, it doesn’t work for every search term and you have to be very careful when considering the combinations, but I’ve seen up to 50% increase in conversion rates for some of the terms using this exact method.

I have to stress again, you have to be meticulous in choosing keywords (exact match only, of course) and try to cover all the bases and all the combinations to get positive results.

Conclusion

It has been an absolute pleasure sharing what I know about the subject in this guest post.

I have to admit I would be more than happy if you have learned just one new thing from this rather extensive post, as I truly feel there is a lot to learn about the niche.

The sheer challenge of advertising luxury and high-price services leaves anyone humble.

Even though I feel like this is my sub-specialization in Google Ads, I also believe that I still have a lot to learn on the subject, so I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts, comments or just plain critique if you have it.