Archive for PPC Advertising

5 Steps to Getting What You Want from AdWords

Being successful in AdWords means having the conviction to clearly identify your goals and strategies along with the flexibility and willingness to change your approach to meet the needs of your customers. The following 5 steps reflect the necessity of a detailed, yet flexible approach to your advertising strategy.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

The first step in any advertising campaign is determining what your goals are. In AdWords, not only is it important to define your goals and budget for your account, but to refine your goals at every step from campaign down to keywords. Failing to clarify each step in the process can lead to poorly performing ads, and worst of all, a waste of your hard-earned cash. The best questions to ask yourself when determining goals in AdWords is “What is my potential customer looking for?”, “At what stage in the buying cycle do I want to reach my customers?”, and “What kind of response am I seeking?” Answering these questions will not only help to clarify what kind of campaign you want to run, they will also help you determine your budget allocation, which measurements are important, and what types of ads to run.

Step 2: Determine Your Strategy

There are two main online advertising strategies when it comes to AdWords – building brand awareness and selling your product. These are not mutually exclusive goals when it comes to advertising a business, but they should be separate campaigns within your AdWords account. Many AdWords campaigns focus exclusively on building brand awareness. Advertisers that are focusing on improving the visibility of their brands can structure their campaigns to ensure they are reaching the highest volume of traffic for their keywords.

For example, a branding campaign for a site selling DJ equipment may be set up like this: the seller wants to reach as broad a scope as possible to get his name recognized across music sites, so he chooses generic keywords like “music”, “musical instruments”, and “audio equipment.” Further, since he is trying to get as much response as possible to his site, he will choose a CPM campaign so he can pay per thousand impressions; this way, he can track interest by seeing how many clicks he gets without having to pay for each one. He will then measure success by tracking these clicks on his click-through rate (CTR) measurements, as well as which sites he linked to most, which will enable him to track the amount of exposure he is getting and where the interest is coming from.

Step 3: Experiment

Even though he is focused on his branding campaign, he is getting great CTR results and decides to set up a cost per click to “test the waters” of sales and conversions. This is a great idea, mostly because he is not trying to double his branding campaign as a conversion campaign. This should be its own campaign, focusing on specific keywords targeted at relevant sites in the search and display networks which allows our dj to drive for sales with every click.

Step 4: Be Flexible!

The vast array of reports, tools, and options available on AdWords can be somewhat daunting, but don’t be afraid to act on what the numbers are telling you. Our dj selling equipment might think he is just getting his name out there, but the numbers are now telling a different story. His CPC has reached budget 14 out of the last 15 days, and his conversions are creeping up on several keywords. Meanwhile, his CPM branding campaign is getting a high number of clicks, and is now taking up much of his daily budget. The seller adjusts his bidding strategy to reflect these results, reallocating ad spend from the branding campaign into the more profitable CPC campaigns. He may still utilize his branding campaign to maintain a certain level of exposure, but he has shifted the majority of his daily budget away from it.

Step 5: Optimize

Now he is getting the biggest return on his advertising investment by targeting specific websites based on his incoming URLs, refining keyword lists based on their effectiveness (no more “music” in the keyword lists), and creating multiple, separate ad groups for each group of refined keywords. By utilizing a new CPC campaign for each popular keyword along with manual targeting of specific websites, his ads are being rewarded by Google; the are relevant to the sites they appear on, which in turn improves his overall Quality Score, which then drives down his overall ad costs.

Bottom Line: Set your campaigns according to the goals you have in mind for your advertising budget, but advertisers have to be willing to deviate from the original goals depending on the responses they get and what the data shows. There are so many different ways to measure success in AdWords, and you can’t be great at all of them at once. Each category reflects a strategy, and every advertiser should be aware of which is the most important outcome for them.

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PPC Mistakes to Avoid

An article in the New York Times details common mistakes to avoid in PPC management. We list them here with some additional comments from Laura, our PPC strategist.

Mistake #1. Giving up before you pull in enough clicks to allow for  analysis and improvements

— Make sure you have Google Analytics properly installed on your site. That will allow a thorough examination of the keywords, ad copy and landing pages that are actually returning sales and meeting your goals. If you start with a high budget, you may get scared off initially, but it is important to rate the results first, then fine tune the budget, keywords, and ad copy.

Mistake #2: Focusing on click-through rates.

–A campaign isn’t effective if it gets high click through rates, but produces little revenue. Once again, conversion data is essential. The question to ask from  CTR results  is ” if all these people are landing on my site, why is no one buying? ” It will help you craft better landing pages, examine the navigability of your site, prices of competitors, etc. You can create several versions of an ad and rotate them evenly. If you allow the Google machine to determine the most popular ad, it will be the one that is visible more of the time. At the beginning of any campaign, it is best to let ads run equally. The one with the highest CTR may not be the one bringing in the most sales.

Mistake # 3: Not mastering conversion metrics.

–The article details the use of conversion data. Conversion metrics are available for all CPC campaigns from the Ad Words dashboard. It is not the same as Google Analytics. For an immediate snapshot of the campaign ROI conversion metrics are helpful. It requires another few steps to set up your Google Analytics account, but we advise that everyone do so. Analytics provides even more comprehensive data, asllowing you to compare the ROI of organic search, site referrals, and CPC.

Mistake #4   Not setting the right budget.

— The author of the article says it all:  If you can figure out roughly whether you’re getting a positive return on investment, you should base your budget on that and nothing else. If you’re not making money on the campaign, keep your spending low until you fix it — you won’t make it up on volume. If you’re making money, spend more and keep spending more and more as long as you stay in the black — until you can’t handle or just don’t want the extra business or until the monthly cash outlay becomes so large that it threatens to cause cash flow problems.

Mistake #5: Not tweaking everything relentlessly.

It is important to continually learn about and utilize all the campaign options available in CPC ads. Geo targets, product ads, ad copy, keywords, image and managed placements can all be changed and improved. The mistake is to ignore the many opportunities for change, and just stick with the “tried and true”. You should always be on the hunt for better keywords, better ads, and better ways to convert ad clickers into site visitors.

Mistake #6: Shooting too high.

— Employing the most popular (generic) keywords and aiming for top placement will quickly deplete your budget and may not return any revenue. For example, a client of ours has a pond supply business, ThePondOutlet.com. When he first launched the site, we were reliant on PPC to generate sales. Rather than focus on the keyword “pond supplies”  we chose to focus the ads on the Aquascape brand and individual products. He has now  the largest online retailer of Aquascape pond supplies. With good organic placement, we can show the ads in lower positions on the page and still garner clicks and sales.

Mistake #7: Not reassessing your strategy.

Nothing works well forever. It makes sense to look at changing factors such as seasonal cycles, the rising costs of keywords that may have once served you well but are now astronomic. Perhaps you have noticed sales from overseas and it might be worth considering a foreign language ad. Maybe you will discover niche markets and be inspired to  launch a new business!

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