It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a dead end in the perpetual pursuit of growth, and there’s no discipline that suffers from this affliction more than paid search.
Expectations don’t stop once you’ve saturated all of your possible keyword opportunities, ad types, targeting options and budget spend.
You can even become a victim of your own success, as people can see how quickly you have generated a result and become hungry for more.
However, don’t let this pressure you into making bad decisions.
Whilst it’s tempting to plough money into keywords that don’t bring you the relevancy you need to get high quality conversions, you need to be smarter in your approach. Not only will you weaken your value proposition, but your quality score will also suffer.
Sourced from Wordstream: Advertisers with a low quality score can pay up to 4 times more than their high scoring counterparts.
With low quality scores, you run the risk of multiplying your budget without seeing any real impact on revenue.
The good thing is that there are methods of improving your paid search campaigns – without sacrificing your relevancy.
But, how do you go about generating more PPC conversions with the same marketing budget?
Your goal is to find what works, and optimise all of the variables around it. And I mean alllllllll of them.
With good knowledge of those variables, whilst employing the concept of marginal gains, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to see growth in areas where you’re already noticing success.
Marginal gains are best described as ‘1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.’
Popularised by British cycling coach Dave Brailsford, he believed that “if you improve every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.”
Brailsford began by optimising the obvious things like; riders nutrition, training regimes, the ergonomics of riding equipment, plus significant developments to the weight and balance of the bikes.
But he didn’t stop there. Brailsford realised that the opposition were also focusing on the same things. So to get ahead, Brailsford went beyond what one would usually expect.
They began searching for improvements in areas that were overlooked by their competion; things like discovering the ideal pillow that offered the best sleep, testing for the most effective massage gel and teaching riders the best way to cleanse their hands to avoid infection.
They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.
It may not sound exciting, but in 2010 Brailsford had a goal. He set a target that the Great British cycling team would be the Tour de France champions within 5 years time.
He was wrong.
They became champions within 3.
In 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. The same year, the British olympic cycling team picked up 70% of all medals.
The following year another British cyclist, Chris Froome became Tour de France victor. Marking one of the most successful runs of any nation in modern cycling history.
The only way you can get ahead is by focussing on the details your competitors overlook.
If it’s good enough for the British Cycling team, then it’s good enough for you!
Where To Find Your Marginal Gains
Whilst you’re probably doing some form of execution on the tactics below, it’s important to consider that optimisation is the result of changes over time. The more time you put into making smart decisions, the GREATER your rewards will be.
Don’t be the lazy marketer who sets and forgets.
Even the best campaigns, there are so many variables that can impact your performance. You should always follow the ABT principle:
Always Be Testing.
By the end of this blog, you should have a bucket full of ideas for your PPC strategy.
Part 1: AdWords Tricks
Single Keyword Ad Groups
We have found that there is no other tactic as effective as Single Keyword Ad Groups.
If you want your CTR, quality score, average ad positions to go up whilst your cost per conversions and cost per clicks go down, Single Keyword Ad Groups are something you really need to consider.
It’s common knowledge that tightly themed ad groups will improve your campaigns, but whilst your competitors might view 10 – 20 keywords per ad group as tight, you’re going to go one step further.
You’re going to focus on a single keyword per ad group.
Because no one is as focused as you!
Single Keyword Ad Groups work so well because they allow you to control the message match between the keyword, text ad and landing page with laser sharp accuracy.
When you only have one keyword per ad group, you can make your ad super specific to the keyword itself.
For example, the ad for the keyword ‘SEO for Lawyers’ would look something like this:
You should look to test at least two ad copy variations per ad group.
Use this framework from unbounce.com
Your ad will have a perfect message match with the keyword you’re bidding on and will have a high relevancy for the searcher’s intentions. High relevancy means higher click through rates, higher quality scores, lower cost per clicks and lower cost per conversion.
Once you’ve started building out your campaigns, they should begin to look something like this:
Within each ad group you should have the keyword with each different match type:
+SEO +for +Lawyers
[SEO for Lawyers]
“SEO for Lawyers”
Don’t worry, you don’t need to create a Single Keyword Ad Group for every one of your keywords. Just chose the top 5 – 10 with the highest amount of conversions/conversion value.
You can read more about single keyword ad groups here.
Ad Copy Optimisation
So you’ve wrote your two ad copies, set your campaign live – now what? Are you just going to leave it? No!
Ad copy optimisation is one of the simplest things you can do. It’s important that you’re constantly staying up-to-date with the requirements of your target market.
If you’re struggling to understand what value your target market is trying to unlock, ask them! Seriously, it’s the simplest way to get extremely useful feedback.
As long as you have a fundamental understanding of the English language, you can start testing ad copies.
We follow these golden rules:
Don’t rush your tests. Let them run. This will allow you to collect enough data so you can make more accurate decisions.
Let data decide. Don’t let your gut instinct be the decider of what wins and what doesn’t.
Don’t use technical jargon or buzzwords. Keep it simple and make sure it’s a true reflection of your product or services.
Don’t make false promises. You’ll only suffer by paying for clicks that don’t convert into sales.
Segment your data to get better insights. Maybe particular geographies work better with different ad copies, almost certainly you will see a difference between desktop and mobile.
Follow Google’s guidelines to write successful ads.
Sitelinks have been around for quite some time now and still some people don’t use them, never mind incorporating them into their ongoing optimisation strategy.
If you’re one of those people who aren’t using sitelinks, stop reading this blog and go and add them to your ads NOW!
As well as increasing the real estate of your ads and pushing your competitors below the fold on the search engines, some sitelinks receive a click through rate that’s 5 times of the advert.
The benefits of sitelinks are endless:
- Improves your click through rate…
- …which in turn improves your quality score.
- Additional space for extra copy/messaging, which means more room getting your value across.
- Each sitelink has it’s own landing page. This gives searchers the option to find out more relevant information than what’s linked to in the ad.
Just some things to bear in mind when creating sitelinks:
Don’t be tempted to create account level sitelinks! Whilst it might seem like a quick way to get results, you’ll benefit greatly from a small investment in time.
Make sure that all of your sitelinks are at campaign or ad group level. That way you can ensure that they’re a better match to the searcher’s intent.
Use enhanced sitelinks for even MORE SERP real estate. Enhanced sitelinks allow you to add another two lines of descriptive text for each link – like it’s own mini-ad! For example, you can go from this:
Google says enhanced sitelinks can improve clickthrough rates by 30%.
For even more ideas, check out WordStream’s advice on optimising sitelinks.
Identify Your Top Keywords
Let’s face it – any marketer worth their bread and butter has a relative idea of their best performing keywords.
But as we’ve found out, that isn’t always the case.
If your PPC campaign has keywords that bring you traffic but don’t convert, you are losing money!
Take for example a client of the famed Search Engine Land. The client had spent over $1million on PPC campaigns, but didn’t achieve any increase in market share.
When Search Engine Land analysed their campaigns, they found that over 98% of their budget had been spent on keywords that returned them just 1 conversion per month.
Luckily, identifying your top (and worst) performing keywords isn’t all that difficult.
Identifying Top Performing Keywords
Step 1 – Open AdWords and set the date range for 3 – 6 months
Step 2 – Click on the Keywords tab
Step 3 – Click the Filter dropdown menu and select Create Filter
Step 4 – Apply a filter such as ‘Conversion Rate > 2%’ (as seen above), or Conversions > 3.
With this information, you should be able to identify:
- What percentage of your ad spend do your top keywords account for?
- Which ad sets or campaigns do the majority of your top keywords reside?
- Are any high performing keywords maxing out on their budget?
Once we’ve identified these, we look to reallocate budget from low performers (use a filter like Conversions = 0) into top performers, or separate out top performers into their own campaign to give us more control over our budget.
Oh, and any keywords you’ve had for more than a month that aren’t getting you any conversions..
Your budget is better spent elsewhere.
If you’re even just familiar with bidding on keywords, then it’s likely you know what negative keywords are.
Imagine you’re a fruit and vegetable company and you’re looking for new customers for your apples.
The likelihood is that you don’t want to appear when someone is searching for a new computer, so you don’t want your ads to show when a search phrase contains the words ‘computer’, ‘imac’ and ‘iPhone’.
These essentially become your negative keywords, and block your ad from delivering alongside any irrelevant searches.
A quick way to get started with negative keywords is to use a list of common negative keywords to preemptively protect your campaigns.
You can download ours here:
Download our Negative Keyword List
Get the open source negative keyword list.
You have Successfully Subscribed!
Next, you will want to dive into the search query report to see if any irrelevant search queries are triggering your ads to be delivered.
This can be found by heading over to AdWords and selecting the Keywords then Search Terms tab.
Bid For Sales, Not Conversions
We recently covered our thoughts that bidding on leads and conversions is wrong, and that the modern marketer should instead optimise their campaigns for sales and conversions.
There’s a sort of hierarchy of importance when it comes to bidding optimisation.
At the bottom is impressions.
Then there’s clicks.
And finally, revenue.
The most sophisticated marketers know that to be taken seriously in the boardroom – and to get the most return from your campaigns, you need to know exactly how much revenue your campaigns are adding to your bottom line.
Whilst some keywords might have low conversion rates, they might be more relevant to the value people experience from your product and therefore more likely to acquire high value customers.
When you can identify those keywords, you get a level of insight that even Google doesn’t know.
It’s the last real opportunity to strike gold in PPC.
Part 2: On Page Hacks
Does your business have a phone number?
If yes, there could be a wealth of untapped potential sitting within your PPC campaigns that’s waiting to be tapped with the simple integration of call tracking.
If people are clicking on your ads, picking up their phones and calling your company, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of conversion data.
It’s possible that some keywords you’re paying no attention to are your best performers.
Plausible, considering that phone call leads usually convert at 30 – 40%, and for some companies, 50 – 75% of their leads come via the phone.
Thankfully, including phone call conversions as part of your optimisation mix isn’t that difficult.
In the old days, you’d have to rely on ‘how did you hear about us?’ survey or manually assigning unique phone numbers to each of your marketing channels, we now have software to do it for us.
Ruler Analytics uses dynamic number insertion, along with a host of other features, to make sure that phone call conversions show up in your AdWords and Google Analytics interfaces.
All it takes is a small piece of code added to your page to get started.
The idea of an intrusive pop-up may seem annoying, but bear with me whilst I explain.
Once it detects this moment, it triggers a highly visible popup or overlay giving the visitor an incentive to stay or submit information – such as their email.
Image sourced via Optimonk
What is important to consider is that this visitor was going to leave your website anyway.
Exit intent is your last ditch effort to convince them that you have some value that is worthy of their attention.
The visitor was going to leave anyway, so any perceived damage to your brand because of the obtuse nature of a popup won’t be felt by the visitor.
But maybe they were leaving not because you didn’t have what they wanted, but because they couldn’t find it?
For example, they were trying to find the right offer to suit their budget, the content they were reading wasn’t relevant to their needs at that point in time or they’re price sensitive and wanted a coupon before they made a purchase.
Exit intent gives you one last opportunity to help them find that.
Although, platforms like Qubit and Optimizely might be outside of your budget, we have seen huge success in using captures that are tailored towards the visitors campaign behaviour.
For example, if a visitor comes from a campaign that has a really low conversion rate, but we’re confident that it’s a relevant audience, we might display a slide in that gives them an unmissable offer.
An unmissable offer is something that the visitor simply can’t refuse – think an extended trial period, cashback offer or discounted product.
This isn’t a permanent solution, but it really helps you squeeze every last bit of juice out your testing period until you figure out a suitable message for your audience.
Gleam.io is a easy to use and affordable tool you can use to begin getting started with this.
Custom Landing Pages
Are you still sending campaign traffic to your homepage? Stop now! Stop, stop, stop!
We considered writing a lengthy description and justification of using landing pages, but there’s no better authority on the subject than Unbounce:
You should try to use a landing page for every inbound advertising campaign you operate. You might be selling multiple products or setting up promotional offers for different user segments and your homepage can’t deal with this level of message differentiation. The style and effectiveness of your inbound marketing will also vary according to the source (PPC, email, organic, social media, display banners), so you should try and provide a relevant experience to each input to the funnel.
Landing pages are used to capture user data, such as a name and email address. The sole purpose of the page is to collect information that will allow you to market and connect with the prospect at a subsequent time. As such, a lead capture page will contain a form along with a description of what you’ll get in return for submitting your personal data.
There are many uses for lead gen landing pages, some example uses and the items given to the user are listed below:
- Ebook or whitepaper
- Webinar registration
- Consultation for professional services
- Discount coupon/voucher
- Contest entry
- Free trial
- A physical gift (via direct mail)
- Notification of a future product launch
The length of your form and the level of personal data requested can have a direct impact on conversion. Try to ask for the absolute minimum amount of information that will enable you to market to your prospects effectively. For instance, don’t ask for a phone or fax number if you only need to contact them via email.
If you’re using Single Keyword Ad Groups (mentioned above), landing pages give you the opportunity to ensure that your message continues across the entire customer journey.
Using a product such as Unbounce to manage your landing page also means that you can A/B test different variations with ease.
Analyse Your Forms
Is there anything more annoying than going to sign-up for something and finding that they’re requesting information from you that they just don’t need?
HubSpot analysed over 40,000 landing pages to investigate how form fields impact conversion rates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that conversion rates being decreasing heavily for every extra field after the 3rd.
Every extra piece of additional information has a drastic impact on the visitors motivation to complete your form. There are many case studies that prove this:
However, it’s important to analyse your own data. INTI increased their conversion rates by 57% by A/B testing by ADDING an extra form field.
Like we said…
Maybe you’re already aware of some of these methods and include them in your regular optimisation schedule, but I’d bet my car that the majority of you don’t pay them the attention they deserve.
Hopefully we’ve inspired you to dig a little deeper into your AdWords and landing page setup and you’re now on your way to becoming the next upcoming PPC superstar – watch this space Lukasz Zelezny!