5 Ways to Instantly Increase ROI of Your Pay Per Click Campaigns

July 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Search Marketing

Increase Paid Search ROIRunning a profitable paid search campaign can be an art. Although many believe you must have a complete understanding of the search engines in order to be successful however, this is not always the case.

Increasing your return on investment from paid search is not as difficult as it may seem. It is true, you need to consistently keep a watchful eye on your analytics and always be aware of your opportunity vs. expense. Despite that seemingly daunting concept, you can run a successful paid search campaign if you pay attention to the right metrics.

Having said that, with a little knowledge at your fingertips you might not become an expert at paid search but your efforts will deliver a positive ROI if you follow the following 5 tips.

1) Focus on Conversion Rate not Click Through Rate (CTR).

Too often people focus on how many visitors (clicks) they receive from a paid search campaign. It is their belief that the more clicks they get, the more sales they should get. To make matters worse, there are companies out there who actually measure paid search success on CTR (click through rate) alone.

Any of these beliefs is a recipe for disaster. These methods often result in spending more money than you actually make on paid search. In other words, you spend more advertising dollars than you generate in sales.

To correct this problem, you should focus on the Conversion Rate metric as it pertains to sales generated when running paid search. This is a more realistic indicator of whether your campaign is moving toward success or not.

The formula for calculating conversion rate is:

Completed Actions (sales) / Total Number of Visitors (Sessions)

One reason many people overlook this metric might be because in order to calculate your Conversion Rate metric you often need to install the proper tracking code on the thank you page of your website. For ecommerce sites this is most often the page a customer arrives at after completing a successful sale. The tracking code placed on this page gathers data on completed actions which as I have illustrated is used to calculate conversion rate.

All major paid search providers have code similar to this at your disposal. For Google Analytics this is called “conversion tracking” and is obtained from within your Google AdWords account. This tracking number is different from that which is provided to you through the use of Google Analytics alone.

Your conversion rate is a measure of unique visitors to completed actions on your website. Alone it will not guarantee you make money from your efforts, but combined with the remaining elements outlined below, it is one of the key metrics toward running a successful paid search campaign.

2) Know your Value per Visitor.

Your Value per Visitor is the revenue you generate from each pay-per-click visitor to your website. In other words, it is a measure of how effective your website generates sales from the visitors it receives. The higher your value per visitor, the more effective your website is at converting them into sales.

You calculate your value per visitor using the following formula:

Revenue Generated / Total Number of Visitors (Sessions)

Value per visitor can be confusing for many. Take for example a site with a value per visitor of $.95. Given this measurement we could accurately say that the site owner makes 95 cents for every visitor who arrives at their website. It gets confusing for some because they ask “how can I make $.95 for each visitor when not every visitor buys from me?”

The answer is found in the way the metric is perceived. It shouldn’t be looked at as each visitor actually completing a “transaction” with your site, but rather each visitor being worth an amount that ideally should be less than your CPC (cost per click).

To further illustrate, if your Average CPC was $1.25 and your value per visitor is just $.95 then you are losing $.30 for each visitor you drive to your website! In other words, you spend on average of $1.25 to get one click that is only worth $.95 to you. At this rate you will never profit and should consider reworking your paid search campaign, hiring an expert ppc marketer, or shutting it down until you can do one of those options.

3) Keep your Average Cost per Conversion in check.

Your Average Cost per Conversion (sometimes called Cost per Action) is the average amount of funding it takes to generate one action (a sale in the case of ecommerce sites.)

It is calculated using the following formula:

Advertising Cost / Total Completed Actions

In its simplest form, your average cost per conversion should be lower than your average order value or you are losing money.

To illustrate, if your average order value is $35 and your average cost per conversion is $40 then you lose $5 each time a sale is completed on your site. In other words, you are spending $5 more in advertising than you are receiving from a sale.

This one can be hard for many to see as they look at only the end result … the completed sale. They neglect the advertising cost which went into achieving that sale and therefore often end up continuing to run paid search campaigns which are not profitable to their business.

The exception to the rule is a company who has built in average lifetime value of a customer and is willing to lose money or break even on the first sale in order to gain future sales from that same customer. With careful planning and proper implementation this strategy can successfully be used to build a viable business online.

4) Use long tailed keywords and exact match instead of shorter more generalized keywords and broad match.

When internet users begin their search for more information on a product or service, they often use what are called general or broad keywords. They do not know exactly what they are searching for but do know they need more information on a given item of interest. As a result, the keywords tend to be shorter and more general.

Searches result in terms like “shoes”, “running shoes” and “nike” for example. While these terms would likely return data relating to a given product type, they would likely not return data on a specific shoe.

These terms would yield traffic on a broad level with all visitors looking for information yet few looking to buy. Not only would these search terms yield broad scale traffic, but they would come at a high price. Often times the more broad the keyword is, the more competition there is for it and the higher CPC you will pay.

Consider now the user that has already done their research and is ready to buy. They have performed all the searches, learned what is the best running shoe for their needs, and are now in the hunt to find out where they can get it.

As the user narrows their search and has gathered more data about a given product their search shifts to a more exact methodology. They begin to use what are called long tailed keywords to find more specific results. Terms like “Nike airmax running shoe” or “Nike airmax size 7 running shoe” are used.

You can see just by looking at the search terms utilized, the user is more qualified to buy. They know exactly what they want and now they want to know where to get it.

Although there will be competition for these keyword types, the competition will likely be less than what is seen at the broad level. As a result, you’ll achieve lower CPC prices and in turn more qualified traffic by bidding on these types of “long tailed” terms.

5) Build smaller lists of keywords targeted across more specific ad groups and campaigns.

One of the most common mistakes made by non-experienced paid search marketers is “dumping” large lists of unrelated keywords into a few ad groups across a few campaigns.

While this tactic may save you time, it will ultimately be the iceberg that sinks the ship in the end. Trying to save time and money in the beginning will only result in losing money at the other side.

Take your time upfront, perform your due diligence and structure your paid search campaigns to take advantage of the opportunities that smaller, more targeted keyword groupings can do. In case you are asking “what can they do?” here’s a list.

  • Provide more control over ad presentation.
  • Increase click through and typically increase quality of traffic.
  • Increase quality score.
  • Increase relevancy.
  • Increase Quality Score which decreases bid cost and increases placement.

Paying attention to these 5 tips might not make you an expert at paid search, but it certainly will put you on the right track toward achieving higher ROI from your efforts.

8 of the Most Damaging Pay Per Click Mistakes

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Search Marketing

Pay per click advertising has the ability to not only increase traffic to your site, but also increase the knowledge you have of your market. It can very quickly put money in your pocket or very quickly take it out.

Opening up a paid search account, adding a method of payment, and letting traffic flow only takes a few minutes. After that, the most common problem is simply not knowing where to go from there.

Here are eight mistakes that most often turn what could be an otherwise successful campaign into a pure nightmare.

1. Using large non-targeted broad keyword lists.

Large lists of non targeted keywords generally attract non targeted visitors. Rather than focusing on these massive lists (sometimes referred to as keyword dumps) you should focus on smaller more targeted lists. In addition, refrain from using “broad match” keyword types without any offsetting negative keywords. The use of alternative match options will likely yield less traffic, but that traffic should be more qualified.

2. Paying too much attention to your CTR and not enough on your Conversion Rate.

CTR (or Click Through Rate) means nothing if that traffic does not produce actions (sales in the case of ecommerce sites). Focusing on CTR only as an indicator of paid search success will only end up costing you money in the end (thus the “pay per click” concept.) Instead pay more attention to your paid search Conversion Rate to get a better idea of whether you are moving in the right direction or not.

3. Not looking at your Value per Visitor in relation to your Avg. CPC.

Your Value per Visitor represents the amount of revenue you earn for each visitor that arrives at your website through a paid search click. Your Avg. CPC (Average Cost per Click) is the amount you spend on average to get one visitor to your site. Comparing the two tells you whether you are making money or not.

If your Avg. CPC is less than your Value per Visitor then you are making money. The further the two numbers are apart, the more money you are making. It goes without saying that if your Avg. CPC is more than your Value per Visitor then you are losing money.

4. Using only one Ad Group for multiple sets of non-related keywords.

Setting up only one Ad Group and loading it with multiple sets of non-related keywords does a number of bad things. It restricts your ability to more accurately target your visitors based on ad copy. It can cause your quality score to suffer. It costs you more money and also can cost you ad position. I’ll sum it up as follows: using one ad group will often result in non-targeted traffic at a higher cost with a lower ad position in the results. This is no way to succeed at paid search.

5. Using only one ad copy variation per ad group.

I see it often. Website owners running paid search and only using one ad to generate traffic. To be successful and find out what really converts, you should use at least two different variations of ad copy per ad group — and that’s only a gauge. Three to four different ad variations is even better.

Running different ads against each other across one ad group helps you learn what triggers your market to act and furthermore what triggers them to buy. It enables you to test what works and what doesn’t so you can zero in on higher conversion rates.

6. Not turning off Content Network at the start of a campaign.

Until you know what you are doing, one of the first things you should do to save yourself some money is to turn off the “Content Network” option (on by default).

Traffic from the content network typically converts at a much lower rate than traffic generated through the search network. There are ways to increase that content network conversion figure (combining placement targeting with proper landing pages is an example) but it takes a lot of time to get it right. The longer you leave the Content Network turned on, the more money you’ll likely spend and the lower your paid search conversion rate will go.

7. Not setting a Daily Budget.

If you don’t set a daily budget you’re opening yourself up to unexpected charges and possible wasted advertising dollars. The easiest way to set a budget is to come up with the amount you are willing to invest in advertising per month and then take that amount divided it by 30 or 31 (days in a month). Then allocated that daily advertising spend across the number of campaigns you have. This does not ensure the most “visible” campaign, but it will ensure you rarely exceed your budget.

8. Running all paid search traffic to a single landing page.

Driving all the traffic your paid search receives to a single landing page (i.e. the home page) is going to typically result in less than desirable conversion rates. The better method is to set the destination url at the individual keyword level to allow more control over where traffic is routed.

How to Get Higher Paid Search Conversion

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Conversion, Search Marketing

There are many ways to increase conversion of your paid search campaigns. On a general level, it starts with the keywords, moves to the ad title and copy, and on to the landing page (the page at which your traffic arrives.)

I won’t go into all those details here (that’s for another post) but did want to give a hint on one strategy that may help increase conversion of your paid search campaigns. This strategy serves a dual purpose and can subsequently flow over to converting visitors on your site that use your site search form as well.

Relevancy is Key

It has been long proven that when a user searches on a specific term and sees a listing with that exact search term in the title, they are more likely to click through on the listing. The term used to associate the two is called relevancy.

Increase Paid Search Conversion

However, once you get the click, you now need to convert them on the landing page into the action you desire (sale, optin, etc…).

Following the initial search rules above for getting the click, you can increase your chances of getting the “action” by increasing relevancy on the landing page. You achieve this using the same “keyword in the headline” concept revealed here.

Ideally, if you’re running an e-commerce business and the search term is “blue widget”, you would be directing that traffic to the specific product page for your blue widget. That product page should already have the keyword listed in its headline (i.e. the name of the product itself.)

Likewise, if you offer multiple blue widgets, the best option would be to send traffic to each individual page based on the ad presented. This can be time consuming but in the end it’s worth it.

However what if you offer multiple blue widgets in various styles, are short on time, and want to capture broad traffic looking for “blue widgets” in general? Or what if a visitor arrives at your site and uses your search form to look for “blue widgets”?

I’ve seen in a number of cases where the headline of the search results page simply says “Advanced Search” or “Search Results”. This does nothing for the initial relevancy factor.

How can we change that? Simply replace the “Advanced Search” or “Search Results” title with the actual keyword(s) entered into the search form.

Search Results Before
Search Relevancy Before

Search Results After
Search Relevancy After

Increasing the relevancy factor of on site search provides a dual opportunity to increase conversion.

For those who don’t have the time to setup individual paid search campaigns targeting individual product specific landing pages, it gives you an opportunity to still increase conversion on a broad scale.

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Increasing the relevancy factor of on site search provides increased conversion opportunity for users searching your site. We can use these new “more relevant by association” search results to target broad paid search campaigns.

How? Going back to the blue widget example presented earlier we can do the following:

Perform a search on your own site for “blue widgets”. Now, copy the url from the address bar and use that url as the destination url for your paid search campaign which targets blue widgets (on a general level).

What you’ve just done is created a landing page of targeted search results for the blue widget products you offer and increased the relevancy factor by including the keyword searched on in the title.

Again, the best method would be to spend the time to create individual ad groups targeting each product, but the approach outlined here will give you a better chance at increasing conversion from paid search than just sending traffic to any old page on your site.