Bidding & Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer
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The mindset of implementing a paid search campaign usually begins with determining what keywords and phrases will bring targeted traffic to a website. And as critical as this thought process is, a shift to the idea of what targeted traffic will produce the most conversions is in fact a better route to go. “Well, Justin isn’t that the same thing?” And my answer is “Not really.” While one starts with the creation of a campaign, the latter starts with the end goal centered on conversions. Most PPC Managers think they are considering this point, but four months into a campaign with high cost/conversions and less than appealing conversions, we soon realize we didn’t build out PPC strategies the right way. We didn’t focus initially on the conversion metrics that are important to our companies or our clients.
There are so many conversion rate optimization write-ups on how websites can improve landing page and website optimization, and I don’t intend on going there (maybe a little). But this is all about how companies and pay-per-click advertising teams can increase conversions directly from their PPC accounts without having to make major changes to website copy. Now, once you do make the proper changes to website copy, your PPC campaigns stand more chances to improve, but I thought addressing the effectiveness of a campaign would be more helpful.
Determine What Conversions To Track
This is step one as well as an overall effective approach. E-commerce based companies may think they should be solely tracking sales, but maybe there’s an opportunity to track email sign ups, engagement on certain pages, downloads, and shares.Consider implementing Google Tag Manager to get even more granular with actions on your website (hovering over pictures, video plays that pop up). Using your tool of choice, mine being the big GA, take a step back and think through the metrics and conversions that typically lead toward a purchase or engagement with the brand. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some heat mapping into your decision-making process for more information as to which actions are the most accurate indicator of conversion potential.
It is important to remember that purchasers aren’t your only brand advocates. Maybe your ability to attract retailers, bloggers, and other influencers are part of that strategy.
Reverse Engineer The Path Of Purchase
Screenshot taken 4-15-2014
Most shoppers start at the brand awareness stage and then usher themselves to choosing who to purchase from. But they may have many avenues to get to that decision. Google Analytics has a nifty tool in many of their reports that showcases behavior, acquisition, and conversion flow. If you have picked up enough data to do this, go to these reports and determine where most of your shoppers are coming from and the standard path to purchase they are taking. You may determine a few pages are assisted conversion paths that are the second or third pages they visit before purchases or end conversions (not including the checkout page).
Don’t forget mobile versus computer and tablet. There are cross device reports in Google AdWords where you can see where users are making purchases, but more importantly what channels are impacting their purchasing decisions.
Google Conversions & Analytics
Google AdWords now makes life a little easier on us marketers by importing and syncing Google Analytics conversion data into Google Conversions. This is important because you cannot ensure your analytics conversions are 100% consistent across multiple advertising channels. Now you can view from the Google AdWords interface where conversions are happening across campaigns, ads, keywords, and many other segments, which is further discussed below.
Segment (My Top 6 Favorite Features)
Screen Taken 4-15-2014
As PPC Managers can attest, the segment views in Google AdWords is extremely useful. If you are running and tracking conversions, you can make appropriate comparisons across the many segments available.
- Time: By viewing the many dimensions of time (i.e day of week, hour of day), you can get a decent idea of what time you are getting more conversions as well as the cost/conversion across each segment. Go to your Setting Tab to set the right schedule that makes the most sense for your campaign and the conversions you want to garner.
- Network (with search partners): Remember that Google has many of search partners they leverage to serve up Paid Search ads. But sometimes these other networks do not produce enough conversions to warrant advertising. By viewing this data and then going back into your settings tab to focus solely on the Google Network, you can increase conversions. The vice versa logic can also hold true from a cost/conversion standpoint.
- Click Type: Under this segment, you can view where you are getting conversions, be it via clicks from the headlines or clicks from the sitelinks. If your sitelinks happen to be driving decent conversions but it’s click-through rate is low, you may determine that improving the copy of those sitelinks can improve overall conversions. For smaller campaigns under $2,000 per month, this may not be huge, but if you’re spending over $10,000 per month or $200 per day or more, this could result in significant savings.
- Device: I could have mentioned this under Click Type, but here it’s more dynamic. Can mobile improve the overall conversions of our campaigns? This segment can share great insights into this question. Remember that mobile is not best suited for everyone. For the typical B2B marketer compared to B2C marketer, you may determine that mobile is seldom driving conversions. If this is the case, you can reduce the max bid by 95 – 100% so you’re not showing mobile ads and thus saving your budget for the computer and tablet campaigns. Unfortunately, we cannot segment out tablet versus computer, but hopefully Google will grant advertisers more flexibility in this regard in the future.
- Top Versus Other: Probability my favorite segment, this shows you how your ads performed at the top of Google in positions 1 – 3 versus positions 4 though 10. Why is this critical? If you notice you have to spend 30% more per click to be the top 3 positions, but your click-through rate as well as conversions are up by 100% or more (based on which conversions those are), you can determine being at the top is a better approach. I highly recommend advertisers regularly view this report. Just remember to compare the cost/conversion across these metrics as well.
- Conversion Rate Optimizer: For those who love to automate, Google AdWords’ Conversion Rate Optimizer will do the trick. You have to gather enough data (minimum 30 conversions) and in particular conversions for this to work, but overtime Google will dynamically bid on your behalf based on where you are likely to get the best cost per conversion.
Remarketing & Segmented Lists
Sometimes we need remarket to shoppers who engaged with our brand but didn’t purchase. A marketer’s goal should always be to increase standard conversions in a cost-effective way, but if you have the technology to remarket to those buyers…….well remarket to those buyer.