PPC

  • 04 Apr

    How PR can 10x your SEO, PPC and conversion results

    pr what it means

    At the end of last year, Google released their latest search quality guidelines.

    The 157 page document was created to help human quality raters assess the quality of various sites on the web. Essentially the document details what Google is looking for in a web page, and what sites need to offer users in order for it to rank.

    While it’s worth taking a look at the guidelines yourself, a comprehensive post published on Search Engine Journal last month detailed five key takeaways and strategies that can be taken from them – which does a lot of the hard work for you.

    The gist is that beyond having a technically sound site, we can’t optimise our websites for search engines any more, we need to be optimising them for users.

    As marketers, this means we need to be communicating what users can expect from us, and we need to deliver on those promises in the most effective way possible.

    We need to listen to customer feedback – what our customers actually tell us, and what their actions on our sites tell us – to understand what barriers might prevent them achieving their goals.

    And instead of focusing on individual ranking tactics, we need to focus on building our reputations. We need to showcase our expertise and build our authority, earn the loyalty of our consumers, and build relationships with key influencers to in turn earn recommendations, referrals and links.

    The best way to achieve this? A proper understanding and implementation of PR.

    brand is another word for reputation or image

    Misconceptions around PR:

    A few weeks ago, I delivered a presentation at Outreach Digital on an introduction to PR strategy for startups and Entrepreneurs. To kick off, I asked the audience what they thought Public Relations was. The responses I got were:

    “Networking”

    “Sending press releases and talking with journalists”

    “Getting your story out there”

    These are all legitimate responses, and all of them are an important part of PR. But every one of them is focusing on an individual tactic rather than the bigger picture.

    Unfortunately, a lot of businesses make this mistake. In my experience, many businesses see PR success as favourable media coverage. In a digital context, this has been translated to building and earning links.

    I’m not saying these aren’t important metrics and outcomes of a PR campaign or strategy – they undeniably are, but if this is the only KPI that you’re judging your PR team’s efforts on, you’re missing a very big trick.

    So, if PR isn’t just about press coverage (FYI – that’s called publicity), and if digital PR isn’t just about link building – then what exactly is it?

    The Father of Public Relations:

    In 1995 an obituary was written for a Mr Edward Bernays describing him as “the father of public relations”. And in 1990, Bernays was credited as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine.

    Despite this recognition, it’s quite likely you haven’t heard of Bernays – but most people living in America through World War One and the decades following would have been influenced by his work.

    Using his uncle, Sigmund Freud’s, psychoanalysis theory (specifically, how to influence group behaviour and attitude) Bernays developed one of the most successful propaganda campaigns of the first world war. After seeing the influence of propaganda relations in wartime, and the benefits of investing in building influence, over buying attention through advertising, he paved a career and pioneered an entire industry in what he started calling “Public Relations”.

    His 1945 book (titled “Public Relations”, and available to read online here, or to order from Amazon if you’re super keen here) is the most pertinent book on PR I’ve ever read, despite being first published over 70 years ago.

    In it, Bernays defines PR as:

    “Information given to the public to persuade and modify actions and attitudes.”


    As well as:

    “The efforts to integrate attitudes and actions of an institution with its publics, and of publics with an institution.”

    The first part of the definition talks about one-way communication. This is the part of PR that most people focus on.

    But the second part of the definition is key, and it’s what a lot of people forget about. The second part of the definition explains that PR is about relationships.

    Public Relations is about setting expectations, and then meeting them. It’s about not only talking to people, but of listening to them and their needs and making adjustments accordingly to earn their loyalty and good faith.

    In other words,

    PR is the ongoing process of communicating and maintaining relationships with the different groups of people you rely on for the success of your business.

    When you understand this, you will see that PR is involved in anything that influences your relationships and reputation through communication.

    And by investing in, and improving, communication with your users, you’ll better understand their wants and needs, and in turn can offer them a much better experience – with your web presence benefiting as a result.

    PR is anything that influences your reputation through communication

    PR vs Marketing. What’s the difference?

    When I explain PR like this, it often leads to questions about the difference between marketing and PR, and comments on how the two are merging.

    The answer is that they were never separate entities in the first place.

    PR is and always has been part of the marketing mix.

    It’s the part that focuses less on individual products and services, and more on a business or brand’s overall reputation amongst, and relationships with, the groups of people that your business or brand relies on.

    To do this, you actually need to figure out who these groups are.

    A lot of people only think of target customers and the media, but other important groups that might be relevant include current consumers, investors, community groups, industry influencers and peers.

    Just as we have different practices and specialties within digital marketing (UX, SEO, PPC, content marketing) there are multiple specialties within the broader practice of PR (eg. consumer relations, employee/internal relations, investor relations, media relations etc).

    The PRs job is to understand each of these different groups of people and how building relationships and communicating effectively with them will enhance the efforts of the marketing team.

    Why PR matters in a digital world

    In the digital marketplace, the voices of our individual consumers, be them customers, employees or any other invested body, have more influence than ever before. Geographic boundaries are all but irrelevant. There is higher competition, and the abundance of information, comparison sites, and consumer reviews is making it harder to rely on marketing and advertising messages alone to cut through the noise and earn market share.

    In this landscape, customer and consumer loyalty is at a premium. And expertise, authority, and trust are paramount.

    seo-editors-eat

    Communicating and building all of these traits is the territory of public relations.

    So if you limit your digital PR efforts to link building, suffice to say, you’re doing yourself and the rest of the marketing team, a disservice.

    A case for PR beyond link building:

    The truth is, your digital PR efforts probably already go beyond link building and media/influencer outreach, you just aren’t thinking of these efforts as PR.

    Here are some examples:

    User experience and testing: If you’re investing in user testing, and are actively seeking or setting up infrastructure on your site to get feedback from your users, you’re investing in public relations.

    Onsite content
    : If you’re writing on-site content with conversion intent, rather than just ranking intent, you’re focusing on effective communication that sets and matches expectations which in turn helps users achieve their goals. Newsflash; you’re investing in public relations.

    Customer reviews and trust signals: If you’re advising clients on the best ways to respond to reviews on third party sites, as well as creating a strategy to showcase reviews on site and elicit a higher rate of positive ones following future purchases, you’re invested in the company’s reputation and trust – and, yep, you guessed it, that’s investing in public relations.

    Social media: If you’re creating social media strategies with an aim of building a community around loyal customers, reaching new ones, and improving your authority within your industry, you’re investing in public relations.

    Crisis management: Whilst only really relevant for major corporations, if you’ve ever had to develop, advise on, or implement a dark site that provides instant and up to date information in the face of a major crisis (Think Malaysia Airlines after MH370, or BP after the gulf of Mexico oil spill) – then you’re definitely invested in public relations.

    malaysia airlines dark site

    Content marketing: If you’re investing in creating remarkable pieces of content, that are in line with the values of your brand and help communicate or enforce any of your key messages, then you’re invested in PR.

    So, why does it matter that we call it PR?

    It doesn’t.

    Call these efforts what you like.

    The important thing is that you understand what PR actually is, and recognise why it matters. Because the individual marketing tactics are not important. They have changed over the decades as the platforms we use to communicate with our audiences have evolved around us.

    But the fundamentals of PR haven’t changed, and they never will.

    It’s when you, and your team, realise the importance and value of building your reputation, and improving/investing in relationships, that you unlock the potential of PR for your company or your clients’ businesses.

    Every interaction consumers have make up your brand

    Instead of working towards separate goals – be that traffic from the SEO team, lead gen from the sales team, links from the digital PR team – a PR framework at the core of your digital strategy will enable you to come together to attain these KPIs through bigger, common goals.

    You’ll improve communication, create a better experience for users, deliver on promises, and ultimately, earn the loyalty of customers as well as others in your community.

    Because if you succeed in building and retaining your reputation, then the hard part of your marketing, and your sales, is already done for you.

    By Aisha Kellaway CRO PPC SEO
  • 01 Apr

    A beginner’s guide to managing AdWords (with cheat sheet) – Part 3

    adwords-cheatsheet-banner3

    If you are using AdWords on a regular basis, we hope you are in the position of getting a good number of visitors to your site and that those visitors are sticking and taking beneficial actions their. (If not, read our posts on maximising visitors and maximising revenue)

    But are you actually profitable?

    Moreover, how do you decide how much money you should be spending on each of your campaigns in AdWords to maximise your ROI?

    Equally, maybe you’re in a position where actually AdWords is not working well for you. In some industries, relevant keywords can cost well above £30 per click for search ads – not a good candidate for a profitable AdWords campaign!

    In this post, we will be sharing some tit bits we have picked up during our years in the industry, on ways you can increase your return through careful analysis of your AdWords performance. We’ll also be sharing information on some of the other advertising channels, aside from AdWords that have historically proved profitable for us.

    But first things first…

    Are you actually making money from AdWords?

    To determine this, two important metrics you are going to want to focus on are:

    • Your Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
    • Your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS – using customised columns)

    Click on the image to see the full version of the cheat sheet in a new tab that you can print or save

    AdWords for beginners cheatsheet 31. Cost per Acquisition

    Definition: The amount you have paid on AdWords (on clicks on your ads) in order to attain a conversion on your website.

    Mathematically it is:

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.45.41

    So the more clicks that don’t result in a conversion, the higher your CPA.

    Before assessing the values in your CPA column, it’s essential to first work out what your CPA should be in order to ensure you are profitable.

    Your CPA will vary depending on the value of the product you sell (generally the more expensive, the higher the CPA) and the lifetime value of your customer. You need to think about how much you are willing to spend in order to acquire a new customer.

    There is no strict formula for working out your CPA, but as a rule of thumb we recommend the following to our clients:

    Look back at your AdWords data from a previous period (needs to be over a decent period like 3 months to a year) and determine the average revenue (or basket value) you made per customer for each of your campaigns or products.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.47.43

    Using the average margin from this product, work out the total profit you made per sale of this product.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.49.26

    From here there is no concrete rule for working out what your CPA should be as this will depend on a number of factors relating to your business, such as any overhead costs.  A good rule of thumb, however, is to allocate 15-20% of the the average profit per sale to acquisition costs.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.51.00

    So now you know what your CPAs should be, what do you do if your CPA is too high for a campaign?

    Scrap it?

    Stop

    It’s important make sure you have taken into account the full value that campaign is bringing to your business both on and offline.

    To do this you need to think about not just the direct revenue that that campaign is bringing in for itself but also any additional revenue it may have afforded your company through other means.

    Multichannel report – Assisted Conversion Data

    When someone visits your site and converts, that conversion is very often credited to the last action that visitor took. For example, if someone visits your website from a Facebook ad and converted then and there, the conversion would be matched to the Facebook ad.

    However, most conversion don’t happen during the first visit to your site, more often your customer will visit your site on multiple occasions, through multiple channels, as they research the product or service they are considering purchasing.

    The multichannel report in analytics shows you how your channels work together to drive sales on your website.

    When a converted click on one of your ads is not the first or last interaction your customer has with your business, it is called an assisted conversion.

    It is therefore vital that when looking at the profitability of a campaign on AdWords that you consider not only that campaigns direct conversion, but also its assisted conversions.

    By combining the direct and assisted conversions associated with each campaign, you will be able to work out an adjusted CPA for that campaign:

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.52.48

    This adjusted CPA will be lower than your original CPA.

    Now look at your CPA again. Still too high? Now consider:

    Conversions from your LANDING PAGE

    We recently had a situation where the CPA for one of our shopping campaigns was too high. We knew we needed to assess the profitability of each of our products and then cut the weakest performing ones from the shopping campaign and prioritise the best.

    In analytics we were able to determine the revenue brought in from each product in the shopping campaign by first looking at the product performance reports. We then determined the profit we had made from sales of these products, taking into account the cost of clicks to these products in the shopping campaign.

    This produced a neat list of products that we were making profits and losses on. Problem solved right?…Well, not quite…

    When a number of our client’s big selling product brands came out has having made a loss, we knew we needed to look into it further.

    What if a click on product A didn’t result in the purchase of product A but frequently resulted in the purchase of product B instead? Or a click on product A frequently resulted in the purchase of product C alongside product A? Culling product A would therefore be detrimental to the performance of product B.

    Looking at the revenue that each product was spending and returning was too limited. We needed to think about what revenue the landing page was bringing into the company. Thankfully there is a really cool way of seeing this in analytics.

    You may be used to segmenting your data in Google Analytics by paid traffic, organic traffic, referral traffic etc. However, it’s also possible to create custom segments in analytics.

    Screen_Shot_2016-03-31_at_14_45_52

    From here you can choose to segment your data by a number of different options. For what we needed, we segmented our data by the conditions landing page and also campaign.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 14.46.46

    Screen_Shot_2016-03-31_at_14_47_50

    Taking this view, we could see all the revenue associated with a customer landing on a particular page. It gave us some great insights into what products were being frequently bought alongside or in place of other products.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.26.45

    In this example, clicks through to the landing page of product A only resulted in the purchase of product A 34.59% of the time garnering £172.95 for the company. However, another £327.05 was also generated through initially landing on this page, when customers then went on to buy other products. This landing page was therefore worth a lot more to the company that initially supposed in our primary estimates.

    Whilst it was fairly time consuming to work through each of our product losses in this way, viewing our data through these segments gave us valuable insight into how each product contributed to our overall revenue figures, allowing us to be more confident in which products we should cut and keep in our shopping campaign. We found that several products that appeared to have high CPAs, didn’t actually didn’t take into account the additional value that that product was bringing in.

    CPA still high? Consider:

    Offline Conversions

    As well as looking at your data from the two perspectives above, its worth thinking about any conversions that have occurred as a result of your paid advertising that you are not tracking i.e. calls to your business or visits to your store front.

    Whilst these aren’t the simplest to track it’s something you do need to think about before cutting campaigns with high CPAs that might be driving results offline.

    If your business gets a high number of calls, it also might be worth implementing some call tracking software to monitor which avenue’s are driving positive leads from calls.

    Accounting for all conversions that occur as a result of your paid activity, if you’re CPAs are still high, you have one of two options:

    • Try to increase the number of conversions you achieve for a comparable cost. This can be successfully done through introducing more benefits to customers for choosing you over the competition such as offers and other incentives.
    • Removing keywords, ad groups or campaigns from your account which are spending lots and returning little and focusing that money on your better performing campaigns.

    2. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

    Definition: The total revenue generated for a specific marketing channel divided by the total spend on that vertical.

    Mathematically ROAS is:

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.54.52

    ROAS is written £X:1 stating for every £1 spend you got £X back as revenue.

    Your return on ad spend is really the compliment of your cost per acquisition. Whilst one focuses on the amount you spend to acquire a conversion, the other tells you the amount you receive back in return for that spend.

    Unlike the other metrics we have spoken amount, to view this metric in AdWords you will need to create a customise column.

    We’ve shown you how to do this for ROAS in the images below.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 22.58.16

    ROAS is an incredibly underrated metric on AdWords but its hugely useful, especially when combined with your CPA goals. Taking into account both your ROAS and your CPA will give you a more comprehensive picture of how your PPC campaigns are performing.

    For instance, if you have a low CPA and a low ROAS then this suggests that you are generating lots of low revenue conversions (selling lots of products with bad margins).

    In this instance it’s best to look at places in your account where you can ‘trim the fat’; cutting spend from your products that are giving you the lowest return and focusing on the products that give you more.

    Alternatively, if you have a high CPA and a high ROAS then the you are generating good quality conversions but at a high cost each time. In this instance it’s best to focus your efforts on generating more conversions by incentivising customers to buy these high return products in preference to the low return products.

    Caveat: ROAS is only a useful metric when combined with the profit you make from that product. For example, you may have two products, one with an amazing ROAS of 20:1 and another with a ROAS of 4:1. However, the first product is not as popular and so has spent only £1 in click costs to gain £19 back in profit, whereas the second product is more regularly searched for spending £100 but generating £300 back in profit.

    3. Other Advertising Channels

    We’ve almost reached the end of out blog series on using the AdWords database to critically assess and hopefully improve your performance.

    But what if you’ve got this far and AdWords just isn’t working for your business?

    We’ve had clients approach us, where the competitive nature of their industry means that the cost of a click on google is almost £40 a piece. If you don’t believe me, check out the top 20 most expensive keywords on Google from Wordstream.

    In this instance, Google AdWords is not going to be the place to advertise.

    But there is no need to despair! If traditional AdWords campaigns fail you, there are plenty of other avenues to explore.

    Three that we would recommend initially are:

    • Shopping Campaigns (ok, still technically AdWords)
    • Native Advertising
    • Facebook Ads

    We’ll focus more on Native and Facebook but if you are an e-commerce site you can find helpful information about setting up Shopping campaigns here.

    Facebook Ads

    There are several similarities between advertising on Facebook and Google AdWords since both channels work on a pay-per-click basis.

    Some unique benefits to Facebook lie in its ability to uniquely target highly specific audiences. The possibilities are endless!

    Do you sell wedding dresses or wedding rings?  Target people who have recently said they are engaged.

    Do you sell products for babies?  Target parents with children between the ages of 0-12 month or 1-2 years.

    Do you sell furniture? Target people who have just bought a new house or people who have a home value over a certain threshold.

    Do you sell video games? Target people who have accessed Facebook from their games console and played a game in the last 14 days.

    Do you sell flowers, jewellery, or other gifts? Reach out to people with an upcoming anniversary

    Facebook also allows you layer these demographics to create custom audiences built for you, letting you layer life events with geographic location, age, salary, relationship status etc.

    A further benefit of using Facebook is the increased session times on the platform compared to on SERP. Much longer session time, gives a greater ability for just the impressions of your ads to drive a stronger brand awareness.

    For more information on the pros and cons of Facebook advertising, there are a series of great posts by Wordstream.

    Native Advertising

    What are they?

    Native ads are ads which are directly inserted into the content stream of a webpage making the adverting experience seamless. Their appearance as additional content leads to much higher click-through rates (historically 3 x greater than traditional banner or display ads).

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 21.45.32

    Native advertising space can be purchased through a DSP (demand-side platform) which allows advertisers to purchase advertising space on websites which are not part of the Google Display Network.

    The price the advertiser pays for the space is determined by real-time bidding (RTB) in a similar fashion to what takes place in AdWords and with prices comparable to those paid per click on the Display Network. This makes it possible to now advertise on places on the internet that used to be prohibitively expensive.

    Native advertising is different to traditional PPC advertising because its often a lot more content rich.

    White has just introduced it’s very own DSP called White Exchange – watch this space for more information.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our beginners guide to managing AdWords series. Moreover, we hope that the cheat sheets and guides have been useful for your day to day handling of AdWords. It takes time to get AdWords management down to a fine art, and all the while your account will constantly evolve and change! Such fun!

    We’d love to hear any comments, questions or queries you have about the series so feel free to leave your feedback below or on Twitter.

    Wishing you all the very best with your AdWords accounts and beyond!

    By Lizzie Brunt PPC
  • 31 Mar

    A beginner’s guide to managing AdWords (with cheat sheet) – Part 2

    adwords-cheatsheet-banner2

    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!

    Maximising your revenue – increasing on-site purchases

    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:

    • Converted Click
    • Click Conversions Rate
    • All Conversions

    Click on the image to see the full version of the cheat sheet in a new tab that you can print or save

    beginner-adwords-increasing-revenue-cheatsheet-small

    1. Converted Clicks

    Definition: Every ad click which results in one or more conversions within your chosen conversion window (normally 30 days)

    Are your converted clicks low?

    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.

    Otherwise, if you’re setting up tracking for the first time I recommend you check out these excellent guides on doing it for AdWords or Google Analytics.

    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:

    • In-platform reports
    • Bounce rate
    • Avg. session duration/ pages/sessions

    Look at your In-Platform reports

    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:

    Search Term Reports

    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).

    Komarketing associates has generated a great list of over 200 negative keywords to consider adding to your PPC campaign.

    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.

    PriceTo 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).

    Geographic/ User Location Reports

    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”

    Segment by Device

    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.

    Screen_Shot_2016-03-30_at_21_09_17

    Is your bounce rate high?

    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!

    Avg. Sessions Duration/ Pages/Sessions low?

    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:

    Your user is unable to find what they expected on your landing page easily

    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.

    You are not being competitive enough in what you are offering

    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.

    You are out of stock for the product they are looking for

    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.

    2. Click Conversion Rate

    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?

    Is your click conversion rate low?

    There are a host of considerations of things you can examine to increase the percentage of converting visitors:

    • The length of your buying cycle
    • The times and days people are buying
    • How optimised your site is for visitors (from desktop and mobile)
    • Your cart abandonment rate

    What is the length of your buying cycle?

    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).

    When are people buying?

    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.

    How do customers tend to convert?

    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.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 21.27.07

    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.

    Different CTAs

    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%.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 21.29.39

     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.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 21.33.25

    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.

    Device preference

    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.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 19.52.46

    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.

    Is your cart abandonment rate high?

    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.

    3. All conversions

    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?

    Cross-sell on product landing pages

    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.

    Screen_Shot_2016-03-30_at_21_48_48

    Up-sell on product landing pages

    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.

    Screen_Shot_2016-03-29_at_22_16_00

    Remarket to existing customers

    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.

     

     

    By Lizzie Brunt PPC
  • 30 Mar

    A beginner's guide to managing AdWords (with cheat sheet) – Part 1

    adwords-cheatsheet-banner1-01

    Getting to grips with the full AdWords dashboard can be a daunting experience.

    A quick count of the number of measurable metrics for one of our clients in AdWords gave over 100 different ways of gauging paid performance. And that’s not considering the customised columns you can create.

    Add on top of that the need to think about audience targeting methods, advertising platforms, bidding strategies, ad and site content etc. – it may be difficult to know what to focus on.

    So where do you start if you’re new AdWords? What’s the best way to tap into the wealth of knowledge that AdWords can provide and use it to your own advantage? How can you grow your business?

    If you’re a small business we know that your time is precious. So we’ve created a series of cheat sheets to make the most out of the time you can give your AdWords account.

    It’s our hope these cheat sheets will:

    1. Simplify the AdWords dashboard by helping you to think about your AdWords performance from three distinct perspectives: your reach, your revenue and your return
    1. Guide you through the analysis process, step-by-step, so you don’t miss any big wins to invest more in
    1. Allow you to spot quickly where you are wasting money in AdWords

    Today’s post will tackle the first of our three perspectives – analysing your reach. Look out for our following two posts later this week!

    N.B. We’ve provided definitions of some of the key AdWords metrics within this post. For the remainder, you can find helpful definitions of the terms from the links to the Google help centre.

    Maximising your reach – increasing visitors to your online site

    When you first log in to analyse your AdWords performance, a good first thing to consider is how successfully you are promoting your brand. How good a job are you doing of getting people to your website?

    Here’s the first cheat sheet. Click on the image to see the full version of the cheat sheet in a new tab that you can print or save

    beginner-adwords-increasing-visitors

    We have 3 key metrics in AdWords to focus on for increasing reach:

    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Bounce Rate

    1. Impressions

    Definition: The number of times within a given time period your ad appeared on a search results page or on a page of a website on the Google Display network.

    Your impressions are controlled by:

    • Your targeting options such as keywords, audience lists, demographics, interest categories, placements etc.
    • Your bids (max CPCs) and budgets
    • Your quality score

    Is your impression count low?

    If your impression count is looking low, it could be down to a number of things:

    Blocking negative keywords

    Check first to see if there are any negative keywords within your account which could be preventing your ad from showing for relevant terms.

    Your Search Lost IS (Impression Share) (budget) is high

    If this is high your lack of budget is preventing your ad from being shown to your full target audience. Google predicts that there are more people out there interested in your product but it can’t tell them about you because it doesn’t have enough money to do so. A big opportunity. Increasing your daily budget will solve this.

    Your Search Lost IS (rank) is high

    If this is high but your Search Lost IS (budget) is low, adding more daily budget won’t help! You may need to increase the maximum you are willing to pay to bid on your keywords. Before doing so check each of the following metrics to diagnose the problem further:

    • Your quality score (should be 5+)
    • Your ad position (ideally needs to be position 1-4 (desktop), or 1-2 (mobile)

    If your Search Lost IS (Rank) is high and your quality score for your ads is low, its worth fixing this first before jumping to increase your bids as doing so could save you money.

    You can see what is limiting your quality score of your keywords in AdWords by hovering your cursor over the speech bubble in the status column.

    adwords-cheatsheet-qualityscores

    Your quality score directly influences your ad position. Increasing your quality score will allow your ad to rank higher on the page for the same cost per click or lower.

    Your ad will perform differently in different positions; normally the higher the better but not necessarily; test where your ad performs best for you.

    If you’re running display campaigns, consider bidding on just viewable impressions on the display network to avoid wasting your money when your ad is not being seen because its being shown below-the-fold.

    Make sure you are aware of two big changes to the way search engine ads are positioned. As of 19th February 2016:

    • An extra ad position (4 in total) has been added to the top of the search results page (SERP) on desktop
    • There are no longer ad positions on the right of the SERP

    If your quality score is high but your Search Lost IS (Rank) is still high, you will now need to increase your bids to allow your ads to be shown more often. You can get a feeling for where you bid needs to be by using the AdWords metrics: est. first page bid, est. top page bid, est. first position bid or using keyword planner to find traffic estimates for your keywords such as average monthly impressions, clicks and suggested bids.

    Your targeting is too narrow

    If both your Search Lost IS (budget) and Search Lost IS (rank) are low but your impression count is still low, then you may simply not be targeting enough people. In this instance you can improve your impression count by adding more targeting criteria such as:

    • New keywords (always put keywords in relevant ad groups rather than adding them to the same one. If an appropriate ad group doesn’t exist, create one)
    • Additional locations
    • Increasing your audience size (remarketing only)
    • New placements, topics, interests or demographics (display only)
    • Experimenting with different match types (use broad match modifier on your best performing keywords (not broad – too imprecise) and phrase match rather than just exact)

    2. Clicks

    Definition: The number of times someone saw your ad and was interested enough to click on it and visit your website

    If you are paying on a cost-per-click basis (CPC) this is where your money goes, so it’s important get them right.

    As with your impressions, the number of clicks you get is controlled by:

    • Your bids (max CPCs) and budgets
    • Your quality score and ad copy

    Is your click number low?

    If you are getting a low number of clicks, it could be down to a number of things:

    Your quality score is low – ad relevancy is below average

    To increase your ad relevancy, make sure you are using the keywords you are bidding on within your ad copy. A good extra place to fit keywords in are within your display URLs i.e. for the keyword [red balloons] use the display URL www.examplebusiness.com/red-balloon.

    Your quality score is low – landing page experience is below average

    To increase your landing page experience there is a number of great things you can do.

    A simple fix is to make sure you are including the keywords you are bidding on on the landing page of your ad and if possible in the headline of the page.

    A great example of both is shown for the store partydelights.co.uk. Their ad for Green Party Balloons is served for the search query [green party balloons]. This takes you to a specific landing page just for Green Balloons with the terms, ‘green’, ‘party’ and ‘balloons’ appearing in the content of the page.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 13.13.25

    Your ad position is low

    Keep in mind, to appear above the fold on the SERP you now need to appear in ad positions 1-4 for desktop and 1 (or 2 where there are no shopping results) for mobile. If your ad position is low check, first if you have ad extensions fully enabled.

    You’re not making full use of ad extension

    Ad extensions are no longer optional for your campaigns as they may have been several years ago. As well as increasing your quality score, hence lowering your average CPC, ad extensions, when displayed, also increase your SERP real estate, making you more viewable (and hence more clickable). Most AdWords users now use sitelinks, call and callout extensions as standard so consider using some of the lesser used extensions:

    • Review extensions
    • Structured snippet – consider speaking to a Google representative who will implement a customised snippet for you

    If your quality score is high and you have ad extensions fully enabled on your ads, you can further increase your clicks by constant A/B testing of your ads.

    If you’re still not getting a high number of clicks and your impressions number is high make sure you have a look at what your competition is doing. Are you being competitive enough in what you are offering? Does your ad stand out from the rest? There are plenty of great resources out there for improving your ad copy.

    A few additional tips are:

    • Use symbols like ® and ™ for registered or trademarked products in your headline
    • Use offers in your ad copy – consider mentioning the price too if competitive
    • Don’t skip punctuation within character limits! It alters the way your ad can be shown on the SERP
    • Finally make sure your bids are competitive for your best performing keywords – don’t miss out for a few pence

    3. Bounce rate

    Definition: The number of people who landed on your website and then returned to the results page without interacting with your content

     Your bounce rate is less about getting visitors to your site in the first place and more about retaining them. Your bounce rate is almost entirely determined by your landing page.

    Is your bounce rate high?

    Ask yourself the following things about your landing page:

    Is my landing page user friendly?

    Is the purpose of your landing page clear to users? Is it quick-to-load and easy to navigate? Is it clear to users what action they should be taking on your page? Do all links on the page work?

    Is my landing page mobile friendly?

    Mobile friendly landing pages should be built specifically with mobile users in mind and not just an adapted desktop site. Consider the context of mobile users (on-the-go) and the smaller size of screen they are using to view your content. As a result, ensure a simplified navigation, quick-to-load images and large “touch targets” which allow a smoother purchase journey for your customers.

    Is their continuity between by ad copy and my landing page?

    Don’t advertise a great promotion on a particular set of products in your ad copy and then take users to your home page and force your customer to hunt for the promotion. If the offer is not immediately obvious most customers will give up and jump back to the SERP.

    And never advertise something in your ad that a customer cannot get from your site! They’ll see through it and you’ll have wasted your money.

    Is all the information my customer needs on one page?

    One final reason your bounce rate could be high is if all the information a customer needs is on one page and there is no clear navigation allowing them to go somewhere else on your site. Give your customer other options – this can be as simple as allowing your customer to categorize a group of products on your page by sizes, makes, models using built in filters.

    For more great ideas on how to optimise you landing page check out one of my favourite resources on the topic by Kick Off Labs.

    And there you have it, a simple checklist to start looking at the key parts of your AdWords campaign. Next time you log in to your account, go through the flow chart and start optimising your account and making more money.

    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 next cheat sheet – how to maximise you revenue by increasing on-site purchases.

    Image Credits: Header image modified from original image by Sclafani (Flickr creative commons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/sclafani/)

    By Lizzie Brunt PPC
  • 29 Feb

    AdWords expert? Put your knowledge to the test!

    lucile-ppcquiz-bannerFor many of us, the path to PPC enlightenment is one that’s well trodden.

    It starts with months and months of AdWords practice. And when we decide it’s time to make the big leap, we take the plunge and assess our skills through earning AdWords Certification.

    We read the exam study guides, many blog articles, scan our #adwords Twitter feed… Then suspense… And… We pass!

    But dear PPC colleagues, the real path to success in AdWords has just begun.

    Just as we can’t learn how to make a wonderful ratatouille by watching Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel, AdWords, like every other craft, needs daily practice and relentless attention to the latest developments.

    This is why we have made the White.net PPC Fundamentals Certification. Taking this quiz will help keep you progressing on your path to becoming a PPC warrior!

    We’ve put together 10 important AdWords questions – some fiendish, some friendly. They are all based on topics you should be thinking about right now. Take the quiz, and see how you do!


    So, how did you get on? Mastered the latest AdWords techniques? If not, don’t worry; you’ll soon be able add them to your marketing repertoire. Here’s some reading to get you started, and keep reading the PPC posts right here on our blog.

    Let us know how you did on our quiz, and what AdWords options and functions you struggle with, and we’ll cover them in future articles!

    By Lucile PPC
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