Aug 26

5 Things You Should Never Do While Managing a PPC Campaign

By Laura Kimball | Paid Search Campaign Performance , PPC Advertising

When NOT to follow the herd!

There are just those times when following the herd will not be in your best interest. Say a stampede that is heading for a cliff for example. Some state there is safety in numbers, but for those times when the masses are marching in a direction that doesn’t work for you, I say pick up your own drum and head the other way. A very wise woman (yes, that would be my mother), used to say “think for yourself. If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it to just because they did?”

follow_the_herdThere are always lists of the best practices that tell you everything you should do to organize and maintain your Campaigns but rarely mentioned are those things that you should never do. Here’s my top 5 worst things you can do to kill a campaigns performance and cost you in the long run.

  1. Never get emotional about a bid. Do the math before you ever start a campaign you should have a number in mind that clearly is the target upper limit of when it makes sense to ever purchase a click. Understanding what you can afford will keep you in check with your budget. If you sell widgets for an average cost of X and your profit is Y. You should never spend more than Y to attract a customer.
  2. Never buy a keyword just because a competitor has done so. There are several tools available such as SpyFu for example, that allow you to check out what the competition has been up to with their AdWords. This can shed some insight on what they have learned over time. Paying attention to keywords that convert as well as average CPC provides great insight. You should keep in mind that competition only increases the cost-per-click you will pay. In fact you should look for keywords that your competitors are not using. Your competitors may also be focusing in on their features and not yours. Evaluate whether that keyword makes sense to you and monitor whether that keyword converts or provides any value.
  3. Never dive in before testing the waters. Never invest more than a small amount in any new provider or campaign element without testing on a small scale. I cannot stress this one strongly enough!
  4. Never blindly use the default match type broad without a purpose. You can get more information about keyword research ideas here.  Not all keywords follow the same patterns on bids for match type, do your homework and test for results. You should also monitor your results and adjust the match type to meet your needs.
  5. Never combine search and display into one campaign. These types of campaigns serve two very different purposes and should have their own separate campaigns with their own set of success metrics. Separating your network types gives you more control over the campaign settings and will allow you to pause each area as needed.

Managing a PPC  campaign can be rather exiting and very rewarding when it all goes well. It can also become very costly if it is not done properly. Hopefully these tips provide some helpful insight to keep your campaigns moving in the right direction.

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Aug 16

ClickMeasure Pro Announces a New Look!

By Laura Kimball | Search Engine Marketing

Click Measure Pro has a new look and feel! We are proud to announce major changes that we hope will help our customers stay up to date with the latest industry features available from the major Search Marketing providers. For starters, the platform now accommodates enhanced campaigns offered through Google AdWords. The alert system now includes more granular controls to improve your results. The bid recommendations also offer more options to refine your goals fine tuning your suggestions. Our mission is to help you get better quality traffic while spending less on your campaigns.

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If you’re looking to save time and money on your PPC campaigns feel free to take it for a spin with a free trial and let us know what you think.

Aug 03

What Does Your Google AdWords Quality Score Really Mean?

By Laura Kimball | Paid Search Campaign Performance , PPC Advertising , Search Engine Marketing

You may ask yourself why should I be so concerned about my quality score? You may be thinking you just create a campaign and see if it works. That may be fine for some folks but for the majority of us who are concerned with where our marketing budgets are going we need more information to get it right. In short your quality score determines how much you pay for a click! A quality score is determined based upon several factors and can have a substantial impact on how much you pay per click as well as whether your ad is eligible to be served. Your account history has an overall impact so it is essential that you maintain high standards.

Understanding what goes into the score is the first step in improving your overall rating and saving yourself a lot of wasted money.

 

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Click Through Rates (CTR)Not only is your keyword click through rate important but your overall account history is also taken into consideration as well as your past URL’s CTR’s.

Ad Copy to Keyword RelevanceIn other words relevance is rated on a full cycle on how relevant your keyword is to your ads as well as the relevancy to what the customer searched for.

Landing Page Relevance and ExperienceThis means how well you have designed your landing page for navigation and how relevant the content being displayed is to the keyword and ad.

Numerous Other FactorsThere are several miscellaneous factors that also come into play mainly focused on how you compare against others in categories such as geographic, network, and targeted devices.

Linking  Elements For Success

quality_score_relationshipKeywords – monitor your keyword performance reports to see what themes achieve the highest ROI’s. Continually test keyword match types and add new keywords to reveal opportunities to reach your audience.

Ads – continually test at least 2 ads for any given ad group, keeping the best performing ads while rotating new ads into the testing mix. Ads that have a higher CTR will improve your quality scores and will reduce your CPC saving you money.

Landing Pages – Conversion Rates and Quality Scores should be tested. Simple A/B testing of landing pages for such items as form placement left vs. right can make a significant difference in how a page performs. Colors, images, and headlines should also have a place in your testing patterns.

qualityscore2Improving your quality scores should include a plan to monitor your changes over time. Every change you introduce should have a positive impact.

This can vary substantially depending on the change but it should always lead to an increase in your ‘QS’ which will in turn improve your performance and reduce the amount of money spent per click.

For more information you can get the complete free guide to “Perking Up Your Quality Scores”.

 

 

Jul 10

Deadline Approaching Soon – Important Changes to Google AdWords for Enhanced Campaigns

By Laura Kimball | Search Engine Marketing

Just a friendly reminder that if you are amongst the many who have put off the notices for the changes that Google AdWords will be making for their new enhanced campaigns, which will begin effective July 22, 2013, it may be time to stop and take a look at how these changes will affect your campaigns. For many of you the impact will not be significant however, if you’re not paying close attention you may find yourself paying for ads that are not designed to target traffic as expected.

The major change comes in how Google is handling different devices. This of course comes with pro’s and con’s associated with the aspect of reorganizing your existing campaigns. With legacy campaigns you had more control over including/excluding devices based upon computers, mobile, and tablets. The new enhanced campaigns automatically target all devices with an option to adjust the bid for mobile in the form of a bid modifier for high-end mobile devices. In essence you can now control your bid for mobile specifically as a percentage of your desktop bid going in either direction. You can also prevent ads from being served by setting your mobile bid down to 0. The biggest change is that you must do this specifically for each campaign or it will be assumed that you want to target all devices equally.

Another major change on the topic of “devices ” is in the ads themselves as there is now an option to set ads to Mobile Preferred which tells the AdWords system that you prefer mobile devices over desktops or tablets.  If you do not set this option the system will assume there is no preferred distinction between devices and will serve your ads equally without regard to device type.

Major changes have also been introduced in the way the display network handles its bidding. This change is in an attempt to simplify the bidding rules that apply to this category.  There is a slight difference between campaigns that target both search and content versus a campaign that is targeted to only to the content network. Depending upon your specific needs you may consider adjusting your campaign structure as needed to achieve the right configuration. (Although I always suggest separating your campaigns by network.) If your display campaigns rely heavily on Verticals or Placements pay particular attention when migrating from legacy campaigns to the new enhanced features as this may have a significant impact on how your bid preferences are applied.

If you have not already upgraded here’s your next steps. First I suggest that you upgrade your campaigns yourself prior to the cutoff which means that Google will do it for you based upon what they think is the best structure. By doing it yourself you will have more options in adjusting your campaigns prior to the changes. Some campaigns will be very straight forward with a simple modification to creating a mobile bid adjustment while others may be more complicated with proposed merging of mobile and desktop campaigns. Upon completion of migrating to the new enhanced campaigns monitor your performance closely to ensure that your campaigns are performing as expected.

Jun 13

Are You Buying PPC Keywords that Align with Your Users Intent?

By Laura Kimball | Ad Strategy , Keyword Ideas

It is easy to get carried away when you’re researching PPC keywords that all sound good but are you aligning your offers to your keywords not only for general relevance but also for intent. You will improve your conversion rates if you simply line up your keywords and subsequent offers to where your visitor happens to be in the sales process. If you only target customers that are ready to buy you may be missing out on some great opportunities to build a prospect. If you are already participating in content marketing you most likely have some great assets in place that help you assemble an audience up stream.

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There may be some overlap in intent keywords but you should have a general sense of what your target audience is searching for at each step of your sales process. Be sure to work those intent keywords into your keyword research and look for opportunities to create campaigns that are very specific to what you want to accomplish. Relevance is always a priority no matter what! If you are promoting a ‘Free eBook ‘you should never send them to a landing page with a ‘Free Trial’ unless that is part of a thank you page designed to offer a next step.

In fact you can create your campaigns by thinking in those terms. Top of funnel, middle, and bottom are very distinct in the activities in which your users participate. When establishing your campaigns it is often helpful to layout a strategy that aligns your efforts. This task should also include an overall methodology to test and track your results. As you build your promotions think of the next steps for each phase and add those offers into the mix. If they download a PDF, offer a Demo or a Free Trial but always keep the forward momentum going.

Top of the funnel is an area that can be more affordable in your PPC campaigns depending upon competition. It is also a great way to begin a relationship with your potential customers. Get in front of them early by proving the right information that will guide them through the buying process and they will continue to come back to you for more information as they get closer to making a decision. This is a great time to promote How to Guides, White Papers and Case Studies designed to educate the audience on your particular expertise. You can always use next step offers to nudge the relationship forward.

Moving down the funnel it is important to continue the relationship showcasing what you have to offer. This will instill a confidence that doesn’t happen right away if you reach them later at the point in which they are ready to buy. Loyalty is a dominate factor in many consumers, it is important to satisfy their need for information at all stages. You can use comparison guides, feature lists and any other content that showcases your product or offer. Again don’t be afraid to get in and start the relationship early and follow up on the next logical step.

The bottom of the funnel will most likely be your primary focus but you may find it comes much easier if you have established the right information path from the beginning. In addition to ad buys it is also important to provide the necessary information for the right stage of the process as many people online now get bits and pieces from multiple sources making the cycle much more confusing.

As you pursue your keyword list research keep in mind what area of the funnel each keyword may apply to and think of ways to work your existing content into promotions. Compare average cost per click, competition, and search volume for keywords that meet the intent criteria and expand your keyword buys to test your theories.

Jun 04

Where is your internet marketing budget going?

By Laura Kimball | advertising trends

There are several ways to accomplish your goals. In advertising some work better than others but it usually depends on what exactly you are trying to accomplish and how much budget you have to work with. If your entire internet marketing budget is quite small categories such as PPC and Display may be out of reach for the time being. There are plenty of opportunities to generate traffic that are low cost. This is an example meant to prompt some reflection on just where you are currently spending your ad money and spark some creative ideas on how you might be able to improve your spending in the future.

Below is a sample of Internet Marketing Spend by Category produced by IAB and PwC. Let’s see how your budget compares. There are several factors that will impact the percentages you should spend per category such as whether you are B2B or B2C. Is your company promoting a product or a service?

Sample Internet Marketing Budget

The first task is to determine the ROI for each of these categories. We’ll assume you have a tracking plan in place that allows you to capture the data. It is essential to review this information on a regular basis as the landscape is always evolving. What once worked for you may not remain the case over time. Complacency is not your friend when it comes to internet marketing. If you are not constantly testing and refining your campaigns and content then you are falling behind.

Once you have a picture of how each category is performing as far as return on your spend it is now time to dive into reviewing your options as to how refine your budget to align with performance. You should begin with your largest categories first which are most likely going to be Paid Search and/or Display. These also happen to be the easiest to review. Double check that your campaigns are really performing as expected.

Paid Search campaigns should be utilizing optimization that takes into consideration best practices for organization and campaign structure as a starting point. Then you can drill down to the best performing keywords and ads with the highest CTR’s weeding out any underperforming areas that are dragging down your return. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how quickly modest changes can generate substantial lift in your campaign performance, allowing you to adjust your budget to other areas or simply increase traffic at a reduced expense.

Display and Banner ads are very similar in the need for review. Compile a list of all your creative assets and evaluate each campaign for areas that can be improved. You should assess all landing pages and implement A/B testing if you have not already done so. If your ads are not producing desired results it is time to refine the campaign or suspend any portions necessary to improve your ROI.

Consider areas that you may not be leveraging such as Mobile. Know your audience! Evaluate your traffic to determine what devices your customers are using and consider a campaign that targets them specifically. More people are mobile in today’s market it is essential your advertising covers the full spectrum of options. Don’t let your competitors get the upper hand. It is very likely if you are not doing it someone else is.

Your goal should be to spend more on what works and less on what doesn’t.

May 20

Creating Landing Pages that Improve Conversion Rates and Rock Your PPC Campaigns

By Laura Kimball | PPC Advertising , Search Engine Marketing

You are probably already aware that Google AdWords determines what a particular cost-per-click will be based in part on the quality score of your landing pages. Let’s face it not all landing pages are created equal. When it comes to PPC advertising in particular when you are paying for every click it becomes essential that your landing pages rock conversion rates every time. A high priority should be set on creating landing pages that are designed to improve your conversion rates which will optimize your advertising budget.

Here are a few essentials to keep in mind when creating and testing your landing pages.

Relevance is always the highest priority.

This means that the landing page must align with the ad copy for starters and especially when it comes to landing page headlines. Your ad should be specific to what you have to offer and your landing page is an extension of that message. Think about what it is you want that visitor to accomplish once they have arrived.

Your headline should be absolutely clear without requiring any interpretation.

You should always remove as many obstacles as possible for the user. Remember you just paid to get them there, the easier you make the process the more inclined a user will be to complete it.

Prove your value as soon as possible and don’t forget to state the obvious!

  • Identify their pain points as quickly as possible.
  • Provide the answer in how you solve their problem?
  • Demonstrate what you have that no one else does?
  • Explain why your product better than the competition?

 

Make the page short and easy to navigate

Nothing loses a customer quicker than landing on a page that is overwhelming and difficult to navigate.  You have very little time to attract their attention, pitch your offer, and close the deal with a completed call to action such as a contact us form which collects their information in exchange for a great article that has unique and beneficial content they could not find anywhere else. Reduce the clutter wherever possible. Never allow the page to get off topic with multiple links that may distract a user from achieving the conversion goal.

Landing pages should never have any unnecessary clutter occupying such limited space. Think of one task and one mission only. Show your visitor exactly what they need to see in as little space as possible. No long elaborate speeches on how wonderful your product is and how it can do everything they ever dreamed of. The longer the text on the page the less likely a user is to stay and look, let alone complete a form for more information. This is where images and videos can really help convey your message without requiring a tremendous amount of text.

Forms should always be above the fold

There should never be any scrolling required to complete this task. You want to consider the safe zone which will accommodate most modern browsers. The form should fall in line with the natural order and be visually appealing as you scan the page. It should only require the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the task. The longer and more complicated the form, the less likely a user will be to complete it.

Never asked for information that is not relevant to what you are offering. The trade off must be equitable for both parties. If you are offering a fabulous article it is appropriate to request very basic information such as name and email. It is not acceptable to ask for too much personal information such as credit card numbers. While this may seem obvious it is very easy to forget to tailor your landing page forms to match the specific forms purpose and not just a boiler plate template that is used on every page.

Perfecting the Call To Action

There are many different approaches in how to accomplish the task of getting your visitor to complete the intended action but for the most part your call to action must stand out and grab your user’s attention. Once they have gathered the necessary information, made up their mind that they would like to proceed. Your call to action should be the next logical step to getting what they want.

The call to action should clearly identify what it is they should do next in a way that motivates them to do so. There are many different trigger words that work better than others and many of them are dependent upon what action you are trying to get them to perform. Focus on trust factors and benefits. Is it Free, Safe, Quick or Easy? Is it a download whether that’s a pdf or software? Will they have instant access? Think of the most important factor in what it is they will get with that action and go from there.

Establish Trust and Loyalty

A user has that has landed on your page has many options. If they arrived at your destination from search keep in mind they selected you from a list of options. If they do not get the information they desired in a way that makes them absolutely comfortable the odds are they will leave your page immediately and keep looking elsewhere.

Consider the following

  • Testimonials are a great way to share what others have said about you.
  • Trust Certificates and Guarantee Seals go a long way in eliminating fears about security or reputation.
  • Press mentions are also very impactful in establishing a sense of comfort.

 

Test, Test and then Test again

Odds are there are some unique aspects of your audience, at least there should be. The only way to truly identify what content, call-to-action or form requirements work best for that audience is to actually try several versions in an A/B test to see how each approach will perform. You should always test one thing at a time with a continuous rotation of different tests.

Here are some of the basics that should always be covered.

  • Headlines should be tested in conjunction with the ads.
  • Location of the form whether on the left or the right.
  • The length of the form and the organization of the fields.

In addition to testing it is also helpful to get user feedback implementing surveys or polls. There are several free or inexpensive solutions such as SurveyMonkey that are easy to use and can provide insight on user preferences.

These are a few simple guidelines that should help you design landing pages that effectively improve conversions and increase your user experience.

Mar 07

How to Tackle the Challenge of High Bounce Rates

By Laura Kimball | PPC Advertising

In PPC advertising everyone dreads spending money on a click that does nothing. A bounce is when someone clicks on a link and then does nothing else. That means they do not visit another page on your website or complete the form that was the intended call to action. So what do you do about it? Here are some sure fire ways to combat high bounce rates.

First let us define exactly what is considered high. Everyone’s needs and results are different depending on your target audience and what exactly you are trying to achieve. On average the standard issue landing page designed to get a customer to fill out a generic signup form may expect to have a bounce rate in the range of 65 – 75 percent. Yes, that means the majority of your budget will go to lost leads but that is just part of the overall composition of advertising. Your goals must be realistic, let’s face it you will most likely never achieve a 100% conversion rate from paid advertising but there are certainly was to improve upon your existing returns.

Now we can dive into the solution.

  • Did you get the right traffic? Was your visitor really looking for what you have to offer…
  • Did you provide an easy way for them to do what you asked? (Sign up for a free trial, fill out the contact us form, download the latest and greatest report)

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There are 4 main points of failure that can lead to high bounce rates.

It all starts with the search query, the actual words that someone type in when they decided they needed information on that specific topic at that particular time. Depending on the match type of the keywords you are targeting and the platform you are using to advertise on the results may vary greatly from what you originally intended.

Targeting the right keywords that will deliver visitors that are really looking for what you have to offer often times takes a great deal of experimenting. Not all keywords are created equal and not all keywords are worth the effort. Consider exactly what may be going through your potential customers head when they are typing in that query which will lead them to you. For instance it may make perfect sense for our business to target “internet marketing” however, in the long run it is too broad to be considered cost effective. We are really offering solutions to people who are specifically looking to solve the problem of improving their paid search performance. Although we enjoy getting to know people and like discussing internet marketing in general, when it comes to paying for advertising it makes more sense for us to focus our budget on the specifics of those people looking to benefit from what our tool is designed to do, such as improve paid search performance for customers that are already buying ads and that already know they would like to save money on that precise task. If you rank your keyword in the selection process in terms of return per click it may help you narrow your focus.

After organizing your keywords the next step is creating the ideal Ad that will entice the visitor with relevant information about what you have to offer. You should describe exactly what it is the user will get if they click. This will reduce the number of clicks that result in a bounce. Remember the goal is not to pay for as many clicks as possible but to only pay for those that have the highest chances of converting when they arrive at their destination.

Now that you paid for the click, got the right visitor from the perfect ad it’s time to close the deal with the just the thing landing page. High bounce rates can result from a poor landing page experience.

Common causes of landing pages failures are:

  • The user is not looking for what is being offered.
  • The landing page design does not provide an easy way to complete the task.
  • There are too many distractions on the page and the user gets lost.
  • Slow load times where the performance of the landing page looses the deal.

As long as you have covered getting the right traffic the landing page is the other main cause of a bounce. Creating high converting landing pages can be quite time consuming and may require several designs to test what will work for your specific product and audience. Something as simple as changing the color of a call to action can result in a significant uplift in conversions.

Aside from the basic design standard approaches such as simple navigation, form above the fold, and relevance, here are some areas to target for testing.  Try moving the form with a call to action from left to right or vice versus, making sure it is above the fold and designed to stand out from your information section.  Play with colors, you would be surprised at how much impact a color can have on the users actions.

Design is essential but so is great content. Does your headline catch the visitor’s attention? Which one would you choose? Get Socks on Sale Now or We’ll Knock Your Socks Off with Our Huge Sock Sale! Ensure that your information section is easy to read and includes images that showcase your offer. Always make it easy to understand and easy to act upon. Ask yourself does this page provide all the answers necessary to compel the visitor to complete the task.

Jan 22

Did Your New Year’s Resolution List Include Saving Money on Your Advertising Costs?

By Laura Kimball | Ad Strategy , PPC Advertising

Typical New Year’s Resolutions include the same old topics such as save money, get organized, lose weight, you get the picture. However, most people fail to uphold those promises so hopefully made on the first. Approximately one third will go by the wayside by the end of January and most will be forgotten by the end of the year. All the best intentions lost somewhere during those 365 days until you revisit the list on the next holiday, real life has a way of getting in the way of meeting our goals. We can help keep you on track with at least a few of those possible resolutions.

Saving money on your advertising cost while still receiving quality clicks can be a challenge for even the most savvy of marketer. Simply buying cheaper clicks from alternative sources may not always result in the best conversions. Specifically when it comes to paid search advertising saving money can be as simple as improving your quality score, expanding your keyword list, or optimizing your keyword list with proper match types and creating negative keywords to exclude search queries that limit your conversions. It’s simple when you focus on the task of optimization, you then get the same quality clicks while paying less which greatly improves your advertising ROI.

You can find out more on how to improve your quality score in a recent post –Improving Your Quality Score – I Know It’s Complicated!

Nov 21

Are You Making the Most of Your Holiday Ad Budget?

By Laura Kimball | Paid Search Campaign Performance , Search Engine Marketing

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If you are amongst the many folks that rely heavily on holiday advertising it may be time to check your paid search performance with a free trial of ClickMeasure Pro. The holidays are hectic enough without having to worry about how your ads are performing. Let us help you save time and money by getting your campaigns optimized.

Click Measure Pro is the all in one solution that allows you to research, manage, analyze and optimize your advertising from one location.. We help paid search advertisers increase their return on investments by reducing the amount of time required to analyze data and save money by improving campaign performance. Competition for keywords can be fierce, are you ready to beat the competition?

  • Manage your PPC Campaigns more efficiently with the automated campaign software
  • Receive daily alerts informing you in detail what elements require attention
  • Leverage the campaign rating system which informs you what’s working and what is not
  • Integrate with Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter (Yahoo and Bing)
  • Get real time data at a glance

 

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