Once the PPC account has been created, the work has only just begun. Ongoing testing and optimisation is essential if the the best results are to be achieved. As standard we look to do the following:
As mentioned in 'Our Approach', having a deep understanding of the campaign metrics, how they relate to each other and how they can be positively affected is imperative.
When analysing the performance of a campaign it is often evident which metrics need to be targeted for improvement; however, taking the appropriate action to positively affect these metrics is the key to proficient and profitable campaign management.
The campaign’s target CPA is a symptom of the performance of numerous metrics; however, it is important to note that we cannot directly affect all of these metrics through campaign management; in fact, you can only directly affect 4:
For each of these metrics we use a variety of processes to influence their performance:
We can affect impressions in a number of ways. We focus on these:
Adding negative keywords will only decrease the number of impressions a campaign will generate. However, these negative keywords will reduce the likelihood that ads will be shown for irrelevant keywords, thus enhancing the quality of the traffic hitting the campaign site. The impressions you get will make more of an impact if they are of a higher relevance to the searcher.
The number of impressions a keyword or campaign achieves is dependent on which page the ads are displayed when queried. An appearance on the first page for all keywords will achieve the most number of impressions. Therefore; increasing or decreasing the bid cap, thus increasing or decreasing the average CPC, will have a direct affect on the position the ad will appear and consequently which page the ad will appear.
We also regularly identify keywords that have become ‘inactive for search’ on the Google network. Increasing the maximum bid slightly will often ensure that these keywords become active once more, thus generating impressions.
In most cases a campaign will be taken through a Proof of Concept (POC) using the main networks relevant to the international scope of the campaign; Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex or Baidu. Once a campaign has proven that it can convert at a level which will achieve the desired CPA we then look to invest in other areas such as Social Media platforms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube as well as creating bespoke campaigns to capitalise on new and innovative features on the core networks such as remarketing, mobile and tablet device campaigns on Google.
One sure and quick way to affect the number of impressions is by altering the display network settings. The display networks complement search campaigns by displaying PPC ads alongside relevant content on partners' sites, thereby providing an additional channel of exposure.
The facility in Google, which allows you to test the performance of a variety of ad copies within an ad group, can often lead to lost impressions if not managed correctly.
As the ad copy is directly related to the CTR, the quality score for a keyword can be considerably affected by varying ad copies. It is therefore possible that one of the ad copy variations could achieve a much lower CTR and subsequently drop down the rankings on the Google landscape.
In some cases, where we are using the same domain name as an affiliate or the client, it may even mean the ad does not show at all. We therefore analyse the performance of multiple ad copies within an ad group and delete the poor performing ones, once a sufficient test period has been adopted.
Broad match ensures that your ads will appear for all keywords queried in the search engines which contain your keywords, no matter what order the individual words are in, or whether there are additional words in the keyword. Your ads will also automatically show for expanded matches, including plurals, relevant variations and synonyms.
The daily budget can be altered to either suppress or increase the number of impressions. The networks forecast the level of daily spend by taking into account the impression history, average CTR and average CPC. If the forecasted spend is more than the allocated daily budget, the ads will not be served 100% of the time and will show intermittently as to ensure that the spend stays within the parameters of the daily budget.
There are a number of ways of affecting CPC. We focus on these:
We use seven methods to add relevant keywords to a campaign. This ‘casts the net out further’ and generates more impressions:
You should note that the maximum price you are willing to pay (bid cap) influences what the average CPC will be; it is not actually what you will pay per click. What you actualy pay is totally dependent on the bid landscape, keyword quality score and keyword history.
As a rule, the bid cap is directly proportional to the CTR and total traffic. This therefore means that raising the bid cap has an exponential effect on the cost of the campaign. Not only does each click cost more, there are likely to be more clicks due to the improved position as a result of the higher bid.
This is an indirect way in which we can reduce the average CPC of a campaign. This method will only have a noticeable effect if the majority of the keywords in the campaign are on broad match.
By using the keyword tail principle (the further down the tail we go the cheaper the traffic) we can lower the average campaign CPC by using more traffic generating tail keywords.
As mentioned earlier, by adding negative keywords we can reduce the likelihood that ads will be shown for irrelevant keywords. Due to the fact that all the major search networks operate a quality score system for attributing cost to a click, where click-through rate (CTR) has a substantial weighting. By eliminating unwanted impressions, inadvertently we are increasing the relevancy of the campaign which subsequently increases the CTR and reduces the average CPC.
Like CTR, the relevancy of the landing page and ad copy is part of the formula the networks use to calculate each keyword’s quality score. The more relevant the content is, the higher the quality score will be and consequently the lower the average CPC will be.
There are a number of ways to affect the CTR. We focus on these:
As a rule, the bid cap is directly proportional to the CTR. The more we bid, the higher the position we can afford. The higher the position we achieve, the higher the CTR is likely to be.
Once a search has brought your ad up, the ad copy is the last opportunity to influence searchers before they click on our listing. Sometimes it is prudent to make the ad copy appealing and generic as to encourage as many people as possible to your site. This is generally the case when a campaign site is converting extremely well.
However, on some occasions, for instance when the campaign site is not converting very well, it's necessary to filter out browsers and non-converting traffic. Under these circumstances we qualify the ad copy. Although the CTR may be lower, the chance of converting may be higher.
Sometimes, no matter how much thought and effort that is put into the ad copy, a searcher will simply look out for their keyword in bold amongst the listings. Even for the searchers who read the ad copy, there is a heightened perceived relevancy if the exact keyword is included within the ad copy.
Therefore, a successful strategy we employ for increasing the CTR is to include the keyword in the ad copy. We achieve this by using the dynamic keyword insertion facility.
Again, adding negative keywords will reduce the likelihood that ads will be shown for irrelevant keywords. This means that the ads that are served will be more relevant as a whole and will therefore achieve a higher CTR.
You can affect conversion in a number of ways. We focus on the following:
The more relevant and appropriate the content on the landing page is in relation to the keyword and ad copy; the more likely the searcher is to convert. In our experience, the five best ways of improving this relevancy are:
The more thoroughly we describe what the destination URL or campaign site has to offer through the ad copy the less is left to curiosity or misconception. Qualifying ad copy can thus reduce the likelihood of attracting non-converting traffic.
It is also important to note that, through the ad copy, you can also influence how the searcher is going to react once they have landed on the campaign site. By managing the expectations of the searcher, it inadvertently softens the sale once they have entered the campaign site’s sales environment.
Naturally it is important to ensure that we drive qualified traffic to our campaign sites; however, the campaign site still needs to be an efficient mechanism for converting visitors. Therefore, in order to maximise conversion, an obvious place to address is the performance and mechanics of the site. There are two main areas where concentrated site management is likely to reap benefits:
How visitors react to a sign-up funnel is dependent on numerous factors like demographics, the appeal of the offering, special offers, and number of steps to sign-up. There's a substantial amount of research which suggests that there is no hard-and-fast rule on how to improve the sign-up funnel performance. The only real way to reduce the level of drop-off is through trial and error. There are obviously fundamentals which we apply when we create campaign sites, but once a campaign is running our account management team are always striving to identify and implement appropriate site changes through funnel testing and analysis.
The main purpose of the campaign site is to convince each visitor that the service, product or information satisfies their immediate or future need whilst giving them a convenient and slick route to purchase. It is imperative that at every point a visitor might be tempted to commit there is a strategically placed CTA. These CTAs can come in the form of banners, images, buttons or text. It is important to mix up the types of CTAs used to avoid 'overselling'. We want CTAs to be conveniently placed but not intrusive.
With our PPC campaigns, as a rule, we are introducing the visitors to an offering for the first time. It is more difficult to get these visitors to commit and part with their money immediately. This is why we've found that an offer which requires the least amount of commitment (e.g. a free trial or money back guarantee) is the most successful ploy for converting search traffic.
Introducing a new offer obviously requires our client’s consent; however, if the potential drop-off after the offer period is taken into account, when allocating the campaign CPA, then this remains a viable option.
If a campaign does not have a secondary revenue opportunity in the form of email or address capture, we'll often send a HTML follow up email to all the visitors who drop out of the sign up process having entered their email address. This email reinforces the offer and presents the potential customer with a link straight to the sign-up process on the campaign site.
As a rule, the lower the bid cap, the lower down the listings on the search engines our ads will show. This, in turn, means that searchers have to work harder to find the ad, which consequently means that the searchers who eventually click on the ads are more likely to be qualified and therefore convert.
Yet again, adding negative keywords will reduce the likelihood that ads will be shown for irrelevant keywords. This means that the ads that will be more relevant and will therefore attract more qualified traffic to the microsite, improving the site’s conversion.
Keyword performance and bid management are a fundamental component of PPC management. We manage the auction process for millions of keywords using our proprietary JUMP platform.
When analysing a campaign’s performance, the JUMP Keyword Performance Management puts all of the keywords into two main categories and then into one of seven sub categories.
The category a keyword falls into gives a top-line indication of what action should be taken through campaign management.
Non-converting keywords are defined as keywords which have not contributed to a conversion during the specified reporting period.
All non-converting keywords are plotted on a matrix; where they fall on the matrix determines what action the Account Strategist should take.
The bottom left quadrant contains all of the keywords that have not yet spent enough money to exceed the target CPA, and have not exceed the number of clicks required to achieve the target conversion. However, within that quadrant, there is the ‘investigate and campaign manage’ category, which is a buffer zone that provides advance warning that a keyword is about to exceed one of the metric parameters.
The objective for the Account Strategist is to target the keywords that fall into the ‘investigate and campaign manage’ category and implement one, or a combination, of actions outlined in the affecting metrics sections.
The view that the Account Strategist will get in the JUMP system lists all of the keywords, by category, and gives access to all of the required metrics and the functionality to take appropriate action.
Similarly to the non-converting keywords, all keywords that have converted are plotted on a matrix. And again, where they fall on the matrix, determines what action the Account Strategist is likely to take.
A keyword that falls into this quadrant is exceeding the target CPA and has a poor overall conversion. This combination has such a detrimental effect on the campaign that the best and first course of action should be to lower the bid. How much the bid should be lowered is a judgment call for the Account Strategist using all of the metric data provided by JUMP.
Having had the bid cap lowered to an appropriate level, keywords in this quadrant will usually move into either the ‘low priority’ or ‘investigate” quadrants where they would then be subject to campaign management.
Keywords in this quadrant have conversion rates and volumes which exceed the target; however, the cost of the traffic, usually inflated by the competitive nature of the landscape, is very high therefore causing the CPA to rise above the target.
The idea with these keywords is to try and maintain the levels of traffic whilst lowering the average CPC. This requires campaign management as opposed to bid management.
With effective campaign management these keywords would normally move to the “opportunity – bid manage” quadrant where the bids can be ramped up inducing even more traffic.
Keywords in this quadrant are the top performing keywords which are not already in position 1 on the search engine landscapes.
They come in under the target CPA and have conversion rates which exceed the target levels. These keywords are such strong performers, with such great opportunity, that the first course of action must be to maximise the traffic levels by raising the bid caps.
Having had the bid caps raised, keywords in this quadrant will usually move into the ‘investigate” quadrant where they would then be subject to campaign management.
Keywords in this quadrant have very low volumes, do not exceed the CPA target; however, most importantly do not have a very high conversion either, making it unfeasible to raise the bid caps to increase volumes.
The idea with these keywords is to try and increase the levels of traffic whilst maintaining or increasing the conversion rate. This again requires campaign management as opposed to bid management.
With effective campaign management these keywords would normally move to the “opportunity – bid manage” quadrant where the bids can then be ramped up to induce more traffic.
Through process-driven campaign management, the aim is to get all keywords to gravitate towards the centre point of the matrix.
Although in an ideal world every single keyword would sit on the centre point, achieving the desired CPA and conversion, we know this is not possible. We therefore ensure that we achieve a balance where the opportunities and low priority keywords are off-setting the Alert and investigate keywords; thus achieving the target CPA for the whole campaign.
Jellyfish has a dedicated analytics and optimisation team, who combined with our
highly capable in house design and development resource are able to provide our
clients with a highly effective optimisation service that includes strategy, design,
development testing and continual refinement.
Find out more about our conversion optimisation.
To create our control we often do a mini multi-variant test. We create two
variants on each of the lines within the ad copy.
We then mix and match to create 16 versions of the ad copy, still taking into
account all of the principles and best practices outlined above.
Mix and Match:
1. AAAA 5. BAAA 9. BABB 13. ABAB
2. AAAB 6. BBBB 10. ABBB 14. BABA
3. AABA 7. BBBA 11. BAAB 15. BBAA
4. ABAA 8. BBAB 12. ABBA 16. AABB
We then compare all ads against a predetermined parameter, in most cases this
would be CTR or Conversion rate. Once the most successful ad is identified we then
use this as our control and conduct A:B testing on an ongoing basis to optimize the
performance of the ad copy.