Let’s face it, it takes a lot of work to optimize your campaigns. Endless testing can be very labor intensive. But there are 2 dead simple things you can do in Adwords that can make a huge difference in your ROI. Each takes only seconds because Google has done all the work for you.
The conversions optimizer
If you run conversion tracking and have had 15 conversions in the last 30 days, you are eligible to turn this feature on. Once enabled, it allows you to bid at the adgroup level on a per action basis. You are still paying CPC, but behind the scenes Google is working its magic to combine your target CPA with quality score, and predicted conversion rate. Instead of simple bid management, like we are all used to, the optimizer is running mulit-dimensional bidding to squeeze a higher ROI from your campaign. The beauty of the system is, all you have to do is turn it on.
Google says the average user increases conversions by 21% increase, and decreases their CPA cost by 14%. That is a phenomenal result which can really take your campaign to the next level. I have seen results even better in my own campaigns using this feature. It literally takes about 60 seconds to make this change. Just go to the settings tab, bidding and budget, then click edit bidding option. Accept the proposed bid amounts, and your done.
The Opportunities tab is the central place for keyword and budget optimization ideas generated by Google. These ideas are automated by Adwords based in your campaign performance data and trends. They are usually updated weekly depending on the volume of your campaigns. Adwords has done all the work, so all you have to do to implement the ideas is check a box and hit apply. The ideas proposed are pretty accurate and relevant whenever I have used them. I check this tab all the time for new changes. This optimization also takes about 60 seconds.
If you haven’t tried these simple steps, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. With only a 2 minute time investment, they are worth checking out.
It’s impossible to generalize all traffic from a certain pay per click network. What works great for one campaign can be horrible for another. Even with the same niche, one person could have great success while another totally fails.
That being said, all you can really do is look at real data gathered from certain tests to make the best determination possible. So here is one case study of nearly identical campaigns running on the big 3 PPC networks.
The campaign is for a company in the travel industry and has been running for 6 months with good volume so the data is statistically valid. It’s a relatively simple campaign going after mostly short tail keywords. About 15 adgroups with 10 keywords each. The landing pages and conversion processes are exactly the same for all.
For this particular niche, Yahoo has been out-converting the other networks. It was 14.8% higher than Bing, and 60% higher than Google. It also has the lowest cost per conversion. Google had the highest volume, followed by Yahoo and Bing.
As I said before, this is just one case study, but I have seen similar results with other campaigns. Sometimes Bing comes out higher, but either Bing or Yahoo will usually convert better than Google.
Are you seeing similar trends? Which of the big 3 convert best for your campaigns?
An important concept you don’t hear much about in pay per click or social media advertising is prequalifying your clicks. That is, discouraging unwanted clicks by giving the potential customer more information about your offer, before they click. This can help you save a lot of money from non converting curiosity clicks, which drive up advertising costs.
Some large companies are interested in brand building and just want to get the maximum traffic to their sites. They might not care about pre-qualifying clicks because they just want the visitors. But most of us are only concerned with the bottom line, which is conversions.
The downside of pre-qualifying clicks with your ad copy, is that it usually decreases CTR. You are purposely weeding out potential customers who won’t convert before clicking, so by design your CTR will be lower. Its a very fine line to walk between catchy headlines and ads that grab attention and boost CTR, and pre-qualifying information that lowers CTRs but boosts conversion. Finding that line is a major part of running a successful campaign.
What are some signs you need to pre-qualify?
If you are testing an campaign that is receiving hundreds of clicks but no conversions, it might be a sign you need to pre-qualify in your ad copy. Your ad may be attracting a lot of interest, but doesn’t related exactly to the offer. This is true with PPC or with social media. You may have a flashy picture in your Facebook ad that is grabbing clicks and a high CTR, but no one is buying after that.
What are some examples?
There are many ways to weed out non-converting clicks.
1. You can add a geographic area to narrow down unwanted clicks. Showing an exact city or state can discourage clicks from outside of your targeting zone.
2. Describe the offer as much as you can in the 3 or 4 lines you have. The more real info you give, then less likely they are to be wasted clicks.
3. Use a relevant picture in social media ads. Of course certain pictures will get a lot of attention and clicks, but most likely they wont convert and kill you profits. Keep it relevant.
4. Include the price right in the ad copy. This one is probably the most powerful pre-qualifying technique. It will drop you CTR for sure, but it will also send very serious customers to your landing page. They already know the price and still clicked, so they are ready to convert.
Pre-qualifying with your ad copy is just one of a ton of things you need to test in order to optimize your campaign. As always, split testing is the key.
By now most people have heard of MSN rebranding their search to Bing. We have been playing around with the search engine, and are actually impressed with the features. The left sidebar with topic categories, related searches and search history is very effective when searching. I also like the pop up text preview of the organic listings. When searching for people, Bing seems to heavily weigh social media results like Twitter accounts in their SERPS.
All this is great, but how can you use Bing to make more money as a marketer? Timing for one thing. Microsoft is throwing $100 million into a media blitz. With this kind of hype, its a great time to take advantage of the increased traffic bump to the new service.
If you are using Adcenter, you are already on Bing. Results from old PPC campaigns are shown automatically on Bing. But you might want to check your Adcenter campaigns and see what this media push is doing to your campaigns. Most of our campaigns are showing increased impressions and clicks.
Positioning has also changed a bit. Some searches we have been testing show as many as 11 paid results on the first page. They also display some highlighted main column listings at the bottom of the 1st results page. That is a first for PPC. With all these positions available, your campaigns could radically change as you ads shift around. Again, its a good time to re-evaluate your current PPC ads to track the results of the Bing launch.
It’s still too early to tell how this will affect the bottom line of revenue, but so far results are promising. What do you think of Bing?
People often ask “how can I possibly learn Pay Per Click advertising?”. PPC is definitely a huge subject with a steep learning curve. You may be tempted to think you need to buy a secrets guide or guru’s ebook. Luckily that is not the case.
Absolutely everything you need to be successful at PPC is available for free, right from the source. Each of the big 3 PPC sources, Google, Yahoo, and MSN (Bing) have full featured tutorials. If you go through all of this material below, you will know more than probably 98% of the online advertisers. As always, its just a matter of putting in the time and hard work to learn it. Knowledge is free.
– Google Adwords
- Yahoo Search Marketing
- MSN Adcenter
Tracking is essential to the success of any per click affiliate campaign. In order to know what keywords are converting, you have to track down to the keyword level. This used to be a fairly complex thing to set up, but now its very simple. There are several options, both free and paid.
Free, built in systems
The easiest, fastest, and free way to setup keyword level tracking is use the tracking code built into the PPC service. Let’s use Adwords and Neverblue and an example.
1. In Adwords click the “Conversion Tracking” link at the top of your account, then click “Create New Action”. Enter your information and lead payout amount, then click “Save Action and Get Code”
2. Now go into your ad network, in this case Neverblue has a self serve tracking code placement tool. If your network doesn’t have a tool, your account manager can place it for you. These snippets of tracking code are commonly called a pixel. Go to tools, add Pixel. Enter the code from Google and hit submit.
That’s it, once this is installed you are tracking conversions at the keyword level. Now you can look at your Google reports, sort by conversions, and see which keywords are actually converting for you. By bidding higher for those keywords, and removing non converting keywords, your account will be eventually be highly optimized.
If you aren’t working with a network, this tracking code from Google would go on your ‘thank you’ or ‘success’ page after a conversion. Yahoo, MSN, and almost all PPC services have tracking code that can be installed.
3rd party tracking systems
The other easy option is to use a third party tracking system. The most popular and best example out there is Tracking 202. Wes Mahler and the guys at Tracking 202 are very involved in the industry and have great tools especially designed for affiliate marketing. Their new Tracking 202 Pro software integrates all your tracking results from all the PPC services and affiliate networks into one console. Once you set up their system, tracking converting keywords is a breeze.
PHP coded systems
Another option, if you are proficient in PHP, is to insert code into your landing pages that will pull the search term used and then echo the query into to the subid of your affiliate link. Your affiliate reports will show the keyword as your subid, which you can use to see which words converted. This is more difficult but can have its place if you are building a custom system for yourself. I used to use this extensively back in the early days, but with all the easy systems in place now, most people don’t go this route.
With all the options out there today, there is really know excuse to run a campaign without keyword level tracking. That data is just too valuable to miss. By setting up keyword tracking you have access to the holy grail of stats, the cost/conversion per keyword.
Adcenter just finished their big spring update. Some much needed changes have been implemented to make the interface easier to work with. Some of the update to the desktop tool are:
You can go get the MSN desktop tool here
Last week there were some mergers and buyouts in the second tier PPC network space. Adknowledge was formed in 2003 and has received some pretty good capital funding from Technology Crossover Ventures. They have been buying up all kinds of various networks and platforms lately. Last week the purchased the media division (PPC) of Miva for the bargain price of $11.4 million, which included Miva and Findwhat. They also purchased the Chicago based SearchFeed PPC network. I have done considerable spends with both Miva and Searchfeed in the past. Hopefully these consolidations will make a very strong second tier PPC network, and expand their reach.
I’ve always been a fan of trying every traffic source out there. I have had some great success, as well as total failures on second tier networks. You definitely have to test and track your traffic as always, but there is some good converting traffic to be found. Another positive point is that every second tier network I have tested will give you free clicks and credits to try their networks.
Here are some current free click deals:
$50 Miva coupon – This is still good after the buyout. Miva Adcenter accounts will continue to work as normal, so I would grab this credit while you still can.
$50 ASK.com credit - Ask has always been a solid performer for certain niches.
7 Search 20% Credit - Still probably the cheapest traffic out there. Test as always, but for the right offers this traffic will convert.