Managing an AdWords account effectively requires time.
Time you may not have if you’re a small business. So we’ve created these AdWords cheat sheets to help you make the most out of the time you have to give.
It’s our hope these cheat sheets will simplify the AdWords dashboard by showing you how to think about your AdWords performance from three distinct perspectives: your reach, your revenue and your return.
This post is the second in a series of three. Today’s post focusses on maximising revenue through increasing on-site purchases. If you missed it, check out our first post on maximising your reach.
And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the last post, which looks at increasing your return!
Once you have achieved your first goal of increasing the number of visitors to your site, you’re going to want to work on keeping them there and encouraging them to convert.
Conversion: A conversion is a trackable action a customer completes after having clicked on your ad. This action is predefined by you and needs to be something valuable to your business, such as an online transaction, a lead from filling out an online form or a call to your business.
Conversions frequently have a conversion value associated with them i.e. the revenue generated through an on-line sale, or the value you assign to a new lead, however, they can also be valueless.
The three AdWords metrics you can analyse for assessing your success at converting visitors are:
Click on the image to see the full version of the cheat sheet in a new tab that you can print or save
1. Converted Clicks
Definition: Every ad click which results in one or more conversions within your chosen conversion window (normally 30 days)
If the number of converted clicks for a particular campaign looks low (or equally looks too high compared to what you are actually achieving), it’s a good idea to first review what it is you’re tracking.
For the non-technically minded, this is a great post for troubleshooting AdWords conversions tracking issues.
If you’re happy that you’re tracking actions on your website correctly, there are several methods in AdWords you can use to diagnose why your converted clicks are low:
There are loads of really helpful reports in AdWords that give you detailed information about your user’s behaviour. Three which are useful to look at alongside your converted clicks are:
Have a look at what search terms your users are using before they click on your ads. Are your broad matched keywords generating lots of queries for things that are irrelevant to your business?
For example, if you sell flower bulbs, and you’ve got bulbs as a broad match term you may be getting lots of irrelevant searches for ‘light bulbs’. If a search term isn’t relevant enough to the products or services you offer, then add it as a negative keyword.
Tip: Even if people aren’t clicking on your ad for irrelevant terms, negate them if impressions are high as they will be adversely affecting your clickthrough rate (CTR).
A few to consider adding off the bat however are:
Review – These customers are likely to be in the research phase of the buying cycle and are less likely to be ready to purchase.
Cheap/Free – If you have a premium product/service you won’t want customers looking for a bargain.
Price – To avoid customers who are simply price shopping and may not be as concerned with the quality or service.
As well as adding negative keywords, it’s good to use search term reports to find high-performing search terms and add them to your campaigns as exact match keywords. This will lower your average cost-per-click (CPC) and hence lower your cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
These reports tell you the geographic location that your customer was physically in or have shown an interest in when they clicked on your ad.
Whilst your location settings may be set to target the United Kingdom, you may be getting lots of wasted clicks (clicks with no positive result on-site) from ‘South Shields’ for example. Add these regions which are less–likely to convert as location exclusions to avoid wasting your budget.
For e-commerce businesses, it’s best practice to exclude areas within your targeted locations if your business doesn’t ship or provide services to a particular region or you’re running a special promotion that isn’t eligible nation-wide.
Note: If you are getting a lot of clicks from locations you are not targeting check your location options. The default setting is “People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location” which means that someone in the USA using google.co.uk or searching for ‘Restaurants, London’ might be shown your ad. If you want your ad to show just for people physically located within your chosen locations change this setting to “People in my targeted location”
In the last year, Google have confirmed that more searches now occur on mobile than on desktop in 10 countries including the US and Japan.
Since your performance on mobile is going to be different to on desktop it’s important you know how mobile performs for you and react accordingly. This is can be done by segmenting your conversion data by device and using bid adjustments to control how often your ads are shown on certain devices. If you are getting a low number of converted clicks on mobile, add a negative bid adjustment for mobile.
If you are getting a low number of converted clicks and your bounce rate seems especially high, it’s worth first checking that your landing pages are working correctly.
You should automatically receive notification alert emails for disapproved ads due to disapproved URLs (if you’re not the critical contact for the account you can change the settings to receive these emails in the account settings > notification settings in AdWords).
However, it’s possible the URL still works but its not taking your customer to the page you’re expecting. If you spot a really high bounce rate, make sure you first check that the destination URL is the best choice.
Also check your page load time. People are going to leave if your landing page takes more than 4 seconds to load! It my last post, I referenced a great post by Kickofflabs on 14 ways you are driving people away from you landing pages. Check it out!
Next check to see if the length of time your customer is spending when they arrive on your landing pages and how many pages they are viewing each session.
A low session duration could mean one of several things:
Try and think carefully about the mind set of your user when they click on your ad in the first place. What does their combination of search term and the ad they clicked on suggest they are they expecting to find when they land on your page? With this in mind, are they now able to find it?
For example, if a user searches for dolls houses, finds your ad for your local toy store and lands on a page containing a selection of children’s toys, it’s possible your customer won’t hang around for long on the page looking for dolls houses unless its simple to find them. It would be much better for the search journey to look like this:
User searchers for Dolls Houses > Ad Copy talks about ‘Beautiful Dolls Houses’ > Landing page shows just a selection of your doll houses.
This can be achieved through creating highly targeted groups of keywords and ad copy (ad groups) and deep linking to the most relevant page of your site.
Another reason for a low number of converted clicks could be because you are simply not competitive enough in what you are offering. Remember: a customer doesn’t care how many search ads they click on before the find the best deal.
If there are more benefits to buying it somewhere else they will do. Remember too that the ‘best’ deal doesn’t always have to be the lowest price – quality, reliability and customer service etc. all have a part to play in a customer’s decision making.
One final common reason for receiving a low number of converted clicks is if a customer is landing on a page where a number of products are out of stock. It sounds obvious but with a large inventory and an equally large AdWords account it can be difficult to keep a track of stock levels. Before you know it, you’ve spent a lot of money on clicks taking users to a product they cannot buy.
With shopping ads, it’s simple to change the ‘availability’ attribute in the product feed to ‘out of stock’ to stop your ads from serving for this item. With search and display ads it’s a little trickier although it is possible to use scripts that recognise when ‘out of stock’ appear on your landing page to pause keywords/ad groups.
Definition: The number of converted clicks for a particular campaign divided by the total number of clicks for that campaign over a given time period. The percentage of clicks that resulted in a conversion.
Once you are happy that you are getting a number of people to convert on your website, it’s going to be useful to know how that compares to the total number of people that visited your site i.e. What percentage of paid for clicks resulted in a favourable return for you?
There are a host of considerations of things you can examine to increase the percentage of converting visitors:
The length of your buying cycle is the time it takes from your customers first discovering you (the first click on your ad) to converting on your site. The length of your buying cycle depends on the products or services you offer. Smaller, cheaper products like DVDs and stationary, have shorter buying cycles because the research phase is shorter or non existent and tends to be defined by more impulse buys. Larger, more expensive items like cars and holidays have a much longer buying cycle with the research phases being longer.
The length of your buying cycle can affect your click conversion rate if a customer clicks on your ad one day and comes back some time later and cannot find you a second time to buy. This can happen if your monthly budgets become limited, effecting the performance of your ad on the SERP (especially if you don’t rank organically for that term).
If you sell a product or service that has a longer buying cycle, having a consistent ad presence throughout the month is going to more important, to recapture returning customers, than if you have a shorter buying cycle, where more clicks are likely to be unique.
If you are unsure of your buying cycle length, you can find this information in your Google Analytics account within the Conversions Report > Multi- Channel Funnels > Time Lag.
If budget is an issue, consider creating remarketing campaigns where you can pay less for returning customers to your website (see later on remarketing).
As well as knowing your buying cycle length, knowing when in the week and what time of day people on average are finding you (click and impressions) and buying from you (converted clicks and conversion value) is going to be important for maximising your conversion rate.
Whether your performance is more heavily weighted to a particular set of days/ hours or spread more evenly throughout the day/ week, will be dependant on what it is you’re selling and who’s buying it.
If, for example, if you have an online clothing store, your may have a higher click conversion rate in the evenings and at weekends when your target audience isn’t at work. Conversely, if you sell office stationary supplies, your click conversion rate may be higher during the week between the hours of 9am-5pm and drop off at weekends when your customers are out of the office.
In AdWords you can create ad schedules and day-part bidding scripts to control when and how competitively your ad will take part in the auction. Increasing your bids by a certain percentage during your best performing times and reducing them during your weaker periods will make your budget go further for you.
You can find this information in the dimensions tab on AdWords, viewing by day, day of week, hour of day etc.
This is a really important question to ask yourself because you may not be optimised for the way your customers wish to convert.
If your customer converts mainly online, then your efforts need to be focused on optimising that experience. Consider all the elements of your landing page as variables and then experiment with them. It’s amazing how minute changes can make a big impact on your conversion rate, as the examples below demonstrate.
Here’s some elements of your landing pages to consider to get you started.
Template design – experiment with where images and text go on your landing page
When OnBase tested the layout of one of their landing pages they observed an uptake in conversions of 11% just by mirroring their landing page to switch the positioning of the form and the image.
Experiment with the language on the page – Does a hard or soft sell approach work best?
Find your balance between subtle content marketing and the hard-line sales pitch. The balance may depend on what your product, service is. If you sell packaged holidays, for example, your landing pages may benefit from being more content rich, giving your customers plenty of extra information about the destination (through descriptive text and rich visuals), flights, itinerary etc.
Adding customer testimonials
You can give your potential customers assurance of your reputability through testimonials on your landing page. One case study from WikiJob showed how they increased conversions rates by 34% through moving testimonials from the bottom to the top of the page.
L’Axelle compared the effect of switching the language of their call-to-action (CTA) from comfort oriented ‘Feel fresh…’ to action oriented ‘Put an end to…’. The action oriented headline and copy increased conversion rate by 38.3%.
Different colour palettes
Performable tested their homepage using two different coloured CTA buttons. They found that 21% more people clicked on the red button than the green button.
Positioning of contact details
Experiment with where you place your contact details and any customer forms. Prominently displayed, above-the-fold placement is normally a good bet.
It might be, however, that your customer prefers to call your business directly. Many customers will feel more secure chatting things through with another human being before parting with their money. This will be particularly true if you sell something fairly complex where further expertise may be required such as DIY supplies or anything medical.
If you are getting a considerable number of converting calls to your business as a result of your AdWords ads, you’ll want to think about implementing some form of call tracking so that you know exactly which marketing activity brought those converting visitors to your site. Knowing that a particular campaign is generating a number of leads or sales over the phone will ensure that you do not undervalue its performance on AdWords and hence underinvest in it.
Finally, look at what devices your customers are coming to your site on. If you want a really quick eye opener, have a look at the Real-Time Overview in Google Analytics as a quick snapshot of customer currently on your website, you may be surprised at the number coming from mobile.
58% of traffic coming from mobile devices compared to only 15% from desktop.
Compare this with the how well your mobile traffic converts by segmenting your conversion data in AdWords by device (as above). Then ask yourself if you’re investing in mobile traffic effectively? In such circumstances, you can increase your overall conversion rate by investing more in your mobile traffic (increasing your bidding for mobile devices using bid adjustments) and ensuring you have a designated mobile version of your site to direct mobile traffic to.
There can be a number of reasons why your customers leave the check out process before completion. However, if they have placed items in their shopping basket you can be fairly certain thse customers have a far greater buying intent that other users on your site. And you want to take advantage of this opportunity.
You can view the shopping behaviour of your customers in Google Analytics:
Conversions > Ecommerce > Shopping Analysis > Shopping Behaviour Analysis
If your cart abandonment is high you should consider remarketing to these customers as a method of reengaging them.
Since these customers are often very close to making a purchase decision, the language of your ad can be more familiar and persuasive ‘Still looking for….?’. Especially during offer seasons, you can create a sense of urgency in the language of your ad ‘You have X hours left to buy at X% off’ to encourage customers to complete their transaction before the sale ends.
To reach these people (and not customers who have made a conversion) you will need to set up two new remarketing audience lists. Create a list of customers who have visited your shopping basket page and another of people who completed their purchase and visited some form of thank you page. Then use a custom combination to remarket to people who have visited the former but not the latter page.
So you’ve got people clicking on your ads and converting on your site at a good rate. Where do you go from here? One choice is to encourage customers on your site in the process of buying to buy something additional or something more expensive (up-selling).
Definition: ‘All conversions’ includes the data in your “Conversions” column plus conversion actions you’ve chosen not to include in your “Conversions” column. It also includes cross-device conversions, shop visits, certain phone calls and more.
Looking at your converted clicks alone will tell you the number of unique customers that converted on your site. So if a customer buys two things on your site after clicking on the ad it will register as just one converted click.
Looking at your ‘Conversions’ and ‘All Conversions’ column will tell you the total number of paid for conversion actions (sales) that are taken place on your site.
So how do we increase the total number of conversions each unique customer/click makes?
One method is to cross-sell to customers by recommending that your customer buys another product that would compliment the one they are already buying.
Amazon is a perfect example of cross-selling in practice. If you wanted to buy this Silver Cross Ranger doll’s pram, Amazon automatically shows you other items that are ‘frequently bought together’ to try and get not 1 conversion but 3 out of each customer.
Another strategy is to up-sell on your product pages. This is where you persuade customers looking at one product to buy a more expensive version or item.
TheGardenOffice does this well. When you view one of their garden offices, it automatically shows you other versions you can buy that would give you more space.
Rather that just targeting cart abandoners and non-converters, another strategy to increase your total number of conversions would be to remarket to your existing customers.
You remarketing efforts for this audience needs to be focused on increasing customer loyalty. One technique for this would be to offer unique offers to existing customers: ‘Get £X off your next purchase with us’.
Alternatively, why not try this great nugget ‘Recommend us to a friend for X% off your next purchase’. Remarketing to existing customers allows you to make the most of your marketing spend by shortening the sales cycle by contacting those that are most likely to buy from you again.
And there you have it. The steps you need to take on AdWords to ensure you are maximising the revenue you receive in return for your efforts. Have a look at our flow chart again and assess how you are doing for each of these three key metrics on AdWords.
I hope the chart proves useful. If you have any suggestions on how to improve it or questions, please let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter. In our next post we’ll be delving into our final cheat sheet – how to maximise you return, taking a more analytical approach to increasing your profits.