Bidding & Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer
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For those of you not keeping up with the WordStream blog (shame on you!), you might have missed the awesome Grade and Get Paid contest we ran in late 2013. I won’t bore you with all the details, but as a quick summary, marketers were invited to use the AdWords Performance Grader twice to see how their PPC performance improved over a 30-day time period.
I’m proud to brag that my fabulous client GetOutfitted stole the prize and took home the Olympic gold! When I say gold I’m referring to a rainbow-wrapped PPC gift basket of $25K to spend in Google AdWords for 2014, plus a one-year subscription for WordStream’s PPC Advisor software to help Kristi Anderson, VP of Marketing at Get Outfitted, spend this budget to maximize sales.
Even though this was not included in the prize details (big mistake), Kristi also received me! I’ve made myself available to provide a plethora of PPC support for her account this year.
GetOutfitted is an innovative startup that rents ski clothing and accessories for free doorstep delivery. Their prices are reasonable, brands are quality, and customers are happy – what’s not to love! The small Colorado business has seen tremendous growth, but similar to several of my clients in the startup world they face some common PPC challenges, including:
- A limited budget
- A small staff (which inevitably leads to…)
- Limited time to spend in AdWords
These issues led Kristi to the magic solution – WordStream. She used WordStream’s PPC Performance Grader to get an initial PPC performance report, and in just 30 days Kristi was able to:
- Increase her overall AdWords Performance Grader score from 15% to 83%
- Improve her Quality Score by over 50%
- Increase her average click-through-rates (CTR) from .26% to 6.32% (24X higher!)
- Grow her account activity from 39% to 72%
These stats are pretty impressive. So you may be wondering, where can Kristi possibly go from here?! Hasn’t she done all that there is to do?
NOPE! With PPC there is ALWAYS room to improve.
To present this in simpler terms, if you spend 30 days working out and eating right you’ll lose a significant amount of weight, but after that time-period if you go back to sinking into your IKEA couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s glued to your hand, the weight will creep back on. The same goes for PPC – if you spend 30 days revamping your account and improving results, you cannot just ditch it after that. Your PPC account needs TLC just like your health.
Five Ways To Take Your PPC Performance From Good To Awesome
Kristi and I teamed up to do just that – maintain and grow GetOutfitted’s PPC efforts to make them even more successful. After taking a deep dive through GetOutfitted’s account, I came up with 5 optimization tactics if you’re looking to raise the bar on your PPC performance.
#1: Build A Strong Account Structure
The foundation to achieving stellar PPC performance is a strong account structure. The first things I look at in any new client account that I’m investigating are:
- How many keywords are in each ad group
- How many ads are in each ad group
- How relevant the keywords are to each other and the ads within each group
Far too often people dive into building out their account with sea salt in their eyes, and make a huge jumbled mess out of it.
Luckily Kristi’s account structure wasn’t a complete tornado, but there was room for some cleanup. She does have some tightly themed ad groups – which is great – for example she has one around ski wear and another focused on women’s ski jackets and so on, but the majority of her ad groups are under one campaign. With more organization and relevancy throughout Kristi’s account we’ll have the ability to really home in on different areas of her business, as well as capture more qualified traffic that is likely to convert.
Typically it is best to have a few campaigns focused around each product, location, or any other themes that make sense for your business objectives. A great way to break down your campaigns and ad groups is by looking at the structure of your site.
TIP: Having several campaigns does not make sense for all businesses because it is going to stretch your budget across your account, so if you operate a smaller business with just one or two offerings and your budget is limited, you may want to have a “top sellers” campaign with a slightly higher budget, and then an alternative campaign with a smaller budget.
Looking at Kristi’s site for GetOutfitted it is clear there are a few different ways we could break down her account. For example we could create different campaigns for: Men’s, Women’s, Juniors, Kids, and Accessories, and then have ad groups for the different products in each campaign. Since I feel there would be a lot of overlap here, I’d recommend breaking down the campaigns by products:
- Ski Clothes – rent
- Jackets – rent
- Base Layers – rent
- Pants – rent
- Accessories – rent
And then having specific ad groups under each category, so for example:
Campaign: Jackets – Rent
- Ad Groups:
- Rent woman jackets
- Rent male jackets
- Rent kid jackets
- Rental jackets
Within each ad group Kristi will want to have super tightly themed keywords relating to that ad group. Google suggests having no more than 30 keywords per ad group, and then two to three ads per ad group that are using the keywords within that ad text. You want your keywords, ads, and landing pages to all be extremely relevant to one-another, since the searcher will be much more likely to express genuine interest.
For example, if you were searching to rent a ski jacket, but were directed to an ad all about renting boots for kids, would you click? Likely not, because the product is irrelevant to what you are specifically searching for. Also, if the ad did display text reading “Rent Ski Jackets,” but you were then directed to a landing page about renting boots, I would assume you would quickly leave the page and return back to Google. As you can see, relevancy and thinking about the searcher’s intent are both very powerful and important factors in improving results.
#2: Focus On High-Performance PPC Keywords
How do you know if a keyword is high performing? This of course depends on your goals and which KPI’s or key performance indicators are important to you. For Kristi, she identified that click-through rate and conversions are two very important metrics to determine if her campaigns are successful.
With that known, I dove into Kristi’s keyword historical performance to see which keywords really stood out. The keyword “snow clothes rental” on broad match has a click-through rate of 7.43%, Quality Score of 9, and lots of conversions. This is crazy right? Just this one keyword is really dominating Kristi’s account.