Don't miss out! Check out our limited-time SEO service promo

Artificial Intelligence for Lead Generation – The Latest from Google’s Product Leads

Daniel Alvarado

10 months ago

White Shark Media had the pleasure of being invited to an exclusive Agency event at Google’s offices in Los Angeles on June 21st, 2023. 

The main topic of the event? How Google’s suite of AI features can be put to best use for Lead Generation businesses

This year, starting with the Google Marketing Live and then followed by Google IO, there’s been a big push towards artificial intelligence for lead generation from Google. This Agency summit was no different, and the initial keynote sparked discussions around the current state of AI, the launch of Bard, generative AI, and striking a balance between human creativity and AI-driven automation as a way to drive marketing efficiencies. 

Artificial intelligence for lead generation

* AI Adoption is touted as a means to increase revenue in Google products. 

Here are some of my key takeaways from the main talks at the event: 

1. Advertisers need to take the time to truly understand each client’s unique Lead-to-Sale journey.

For the longest time, advertisers have focused on online conversions only. I’d even venture to say that most are still using Target CPA or Maximize Conversions today as their only two bidding strategies for Lead Generation businesses.

A big culprit here is that offline conversions are often “scary” to implement for most, and unless you have a “true” sale with “real” values, why would you bother to try value-based bidding right? 

The solution? Asking clients the right questions to understand what happens after an online conversion: 

  • How long does it take to get to that next step? (Time lag
  • How many leads will make it through to the next step? (Conversion Rate)
  • Can this information be fed back to Google automatically? (Tracking)
    • If not, can this information be exported regularly? 
  • Is there a value we can assign to this step? (Values)
  • Will the value change for any given lead? (Dynamic vs. Static Values Types)

We can repeat these questions until we make it to “real revenue.” A final example would look like this for an education client: 

Lead-to-Sale journey

Source: Google

The goal here is to create a predictable and well-oiled system to supply Google with differentiated conversion values for the deepest stage of the buyer journey, which has at least 15 occurrences in 30 days.

To decide which is the right bidding strategy we should take a look a this chart

Google bidding strategies

Source: Google

This will then enable us to switch from a “least preferred” Target CPA or Maximize Conversions to a “most preferred” Target ROAS or Maximize Conversion Value option instead – which Google claims will have most advertisers see a significant uplift in Conversion Value. 

Google value based bidding

*Google claims that switching from tCPA to tROAS often brings about an increase in conversion value at a similar ROAS. 

2. The GCLID is Dying, and Agencies Need to Upgrade to Enhanced Conversions for Leads and Web.

There are so many changes across the web as privacy continues to be at the forefront of lead generation businesses’ and consumers’ minds. We know Google’s plan to phase out 3rd party cookies by the second half of 2024 remains strong, Apple has already phased out several 3rd party cookies with their Intelligent Tracking Prevention Features, and on top of these changes, almost everyone now has multiple devices they use to complete a buying funnel.

With all of these hurdles, the good ‘ol GCLID cookie that we needed in order to get proper conversion attribution is now a thing of the past. 

To remedy this cookie problem, Google launched Enhanced Conversions for Web last year, which in essence, uses the Email addresses and Phone Numbers of leads (hashed, of course – meaning they don’t store the “real” personally identifiable information) and tries to match them to signed-in users to determine cross-device conversions and other metrics.

During the session on Wednesday, we received a refresher on the other type of Enhanced Conversion, Enhanced Conversions for Leads – a similar solution specifically designed for offline conversions. 

The main benefit of EC for Leads is that we should be able to get more offline conversions attributed, as 

  • You are more likely to match to an Email address than it is to match to a GCLID that you typically lose in the process. 
  • You don’t need to create custom CRM fields to keep track of the GCLID in your leads. 

Enhanced conversion for leads

Source: Google

More importantly, if you recall from our earlier point, this is all connected to supplying Google with more conversion data from further down a given customer’s buying funnel. On paper, this should impact your bidding strategy’s effectiveness and improve campaign performance.

OCI ads revenue

Source: Google

* Google claims that advertisers using Offline Conversion Imports see a +20% increase in conversion value. 

Google also announced that it will release an improved version of its Salesforce connector to Google Ads, which will now support importing Enhanced Conversions for Leads, whereas it currently only supports offline conversion imports using the GCLID. 

3. Broad Match Keywords Will Soon Be the Only Match Types That Matters

Google dedicated a full session to elaborate on how Broad Match is vastly different from other match types, and how many improvements (over 20) they’ve rolled out to improve the way these keywords are matched to queries at auction time. 

We learned that Broad match keywords are receptive to more signals that Exact & Phrase are not, such as Landing Pages, other Keywords in a given Ad Group, Previous Searches (intent), and User Location. 

 Google broad match keywords

Source: Google

Google also reiterated that “15% of all searches are new”, and therefore Broad Match is the “ideal” way to make sure your reach isn’t limited by keyword coverage. They suggest not removing your other match types but ensuring you have a corresponding Broad Match to avoid being restricted. 

After working with Google Ads for over 10 years, you sort of become a “Broad Match Antagonist,” hearing these claims is often a hard pitch for agencies (and even some advertisers). That being said, the narrative – on paper – checks out, as Google isn’t pitching Broad match keywords alone but rather as a synergistic strategy with value-based bidding. 

Google broad match and smart bidding

Source: Google

Putting Broad Match Keywords into Perspective

If you think of it, it makes sense and ties all of the previous points together: 

  • Work with your clients to outline a proper lead-to-sale journey
  • Implement enhanced conversions for qualified leads to feed offline conversions and differentiated values back to Google. 
  • Use a value-based bidding strategy such as tROAS or Maximize Conversion Value. 
  • Use broad match keywords to maximize your traffic potential – including queries you didn’t think of. 
  • Over time, the bidding strategy will be able to predict which of these queriesare not only relevant but also likely to convert and turn into revenue

Brand Restrictions for Broad Match Keywords in Google Ads

Google also quietly announced the launch of Brand Restrictions, which are starting to roll out to all accounts now. The feature allows you to have your branded keywords in Broad Match – and the increase in reach that comes with it while restricting traffic to only serve on searches that include the brands you select or products related to those brands. 

This feature is different from adding negative keywords, as it’s more of an “inclusion” list as opposed to an exclusion. 

Google brand restrictions

Source: Google

Advertisers Not Embracing AI-powered Automation Are Likely to Fall Behind

It’s no longer about whether or not you use artificial intelligence for lead generation in your workflow as a marketer, but rather how. After all, times are changing, and AI is not the enemy. 

We all (advertisers, clients, and the general population) need to be creative about what business processes or activities AI can help us with, whether it’s to expedite learning to drive efficiencies, multiply performance, or facilitate decision-making. 

Exciting times are ahead! 

Have questions about how to make the best use of Google-powered AI for lead generation businesses, including how to set up offline conversions or how to improve your campaign performance? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or fill out our contact form