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Understanding the power of n-gram analysis

Published May 21 2024 3 minute read Last updated Jun 12 2024
Contributors Dropdown icon
  • Christopher Van Mossevelde
    Written by Christopher Van Mossevelde

    Head of Content at Funnel, Chris has 20+ years of experience in marketing and communications.

  • Julian Modiano
    Reviewed by Julian Modiano

    Co-founder and CEO at Acuto, a company that builds data and automation solutions tailored to agencies

Christopher Van Mossevelde Julian Modiano
Christopher Van Mossevelde Julian Modiano

As a digital marketer, you must navigate through oceans of data generated by online marketing campaigns. N-gram analysis is a practical method in a digital marketer’s playbook, especially for marketing agencies juggling many clients and campaigns. 

Funnel sat down with Julian Modiano, CEO of Acuto, a company specializing in creating customized data and automation solutions for marketing agencies. Julian introduced us to n-gram analysis and explained why agencies should use it. 

Julian Modiano, founder and CEO of Acuto

But first, what is n-gram analysis? 

When conducting an n-gram analysis, one breaks down search queries into smaller chunks, known as n-grams. 

For example, “Funnel blog” is a 2-gram, “Funnel blog post” is a 4-gram, and “Write on Funnel” is a 3-gram. 

These n-grams consist of terms, and the process of breaking down the search queries in such a way can aid in identifying patterns or trends that might have otherwise been difficult to observe. 

How is n-gram analysis useful for agencies?

Picture yourself in a bustling marketing agency, juggling numerous advertising campaigns across various platforms for a diverse range of clients. The sheer volume of data can feel like navigating through a maze blindfolded. 

“Traditional methods might not cut it when trying to glean meaningful insights from individual client accounts. This is when n-gram analysis provides additional insights,” said Julian. 

How n-gram analysis works

Breaking down text into insights

The magic begins by collecting and centralizing historical ad data from all client accounts into a unified data warehouse. 

“We use Funnel to easily get our data into BigQuery, one of the best data warehouses for marketing purposes,” explained Julian. 

Then, Acuto dives deep into n-gram analysis, slicing and dicing search terms into their constituent n-grams. 

ngram 1

For instance, imagine a search term like "best dentist near me" being broken down into tasty bite-sized pieces like "best dentist," "dentist near," and "near me." 

ngram-1 (1)

This microscopic analysis uncovers hidden gems about which word combinations drive the best traffic and which fall flat.

A real-life case study: Pain-Free Dental Marketing

Let’s look at a success story featuring Pain-Free Dental Marketing, an agency specializing in dentistry. 

Pain-Free Dental Marketing gets results for dentists who advertise on most channels. However, ad spend on individual client accounts was often insufficient to determine which keywords, search terms, headlines, and descriptions performed best. 

“There simply was not enough data for some of the smaller accounts to make solid data-driven decisions using conventional techniques,” said Julian.

Acuto solved this problem by unifying historic ad data for all client accounts in a purpose-built advertising data warehouse and running an n-gram analysis to find out which search terms performed best across the entire dentistry vertical. 

With n-gram analysis, Acuto conducted a revolutionary overhaul of Pain-Free Dental Marketing’s accounts, even those with modest budgets. 

No longer was the client left in the dark about whether a keyword was underperforming or not. By aggregating data from similar accounts, even the smallest ones were optimized like the biggest ones.

For example, they unsurprisingly found that keywords with “near me” performed really well. 

But crucially, they discovered that they had hundreds of search terms, including things like “how much” or “how to,” and that while each of these was spending very little, it added up to a substantial amount.

“That’s because if you’re looking at individual search terms, they’re all spending little enough to get ignored,” said Julian. 

However, with n-gram analysis, the client could see just how much was being spent on informational, low-value queries and add the n-grams for these as negatives.

In short, it enabled them to identify the intent behind search terms more easily.

Benefits of n-gram analysis

The perks of n-gram analysis for marketing agencies are boundless. 

Firstly, it acts as a treasure map, guiding you to high-performing search terms and keywords across your entire industry or client base. 

This treasure trove paves the way for optimizing ad spend and turbocharging ROI. 

Secondly, it's like having a secret sauce recipe for crafting compelling ad copy.

By pinpointing the best-performing words and phrases, you're armed with a quiver full of arrows guaranteed to hit the bullseye.

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Tools for the non-technical heroes

But wait, there's more! 

Advanced analytics tools, such as custom-built dashboards and data visualization platforms, are leveling the playing field. They transform data analysis from a daunting task reserved for tech gurus to a collaborative endeavor accessible to all. 

“This democratization of data not only streamlines optimization processes but also empowers account managers to make lightning-fast, data-driven decisions,” said Julian. 

Marketing agencies can leverage N-gram analysis to enhance the accuracy of their keyword and search term strategies while eliminating the need for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting. As Julian strongly recommends, "Delve deep into N-gram analysis to deliver exceptional client results."

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