Archive for the ‘Pay-Per-Click’ Category

Key Takeaways from this Week’s Top 5 Digital Marketing Stats

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

digital marketing stats

Instagram captures 15 times higher interaction rates than Facebook.

According to research from L2 Think Tank which analyzed 249 brands and their social media campaigns, interaction rates for Instagram posts were 15 times higher than those on Facebook. [Source: eMarketer.com]

Takeaway:

If you haven’t yet ramped up your marketing campaigns on Instagram it’s about time you start. As a tip, you can easily insert Instagram custom tabs into your Facebook page now that Facebook owns Instagram. Many companies are experimenting with promoting Instagram campaigns on Facebook due to this higher engagement. For example, encouraging users to submit their own photos with the same Instagram filter (like sepia-tone or Lo-fi). This trend is likely to grow in the future if Instagram engagement remains strong for brands.

The average click-through-rate for Facebook Ads has jumped 275% since 2012.

Facebook has improved its targeting abilities since 2012 which is partly why CTR’s are on the rise. Another reason these ads are seeing more success is due to third-party Facebook ad tools. [Source: Wishpond]

Takeaway:

If you’re not happy with the ROI of your Facebook Ads, take some time to sit down and analyze why your campaigns may not be performing well. Maybe your ads could benefit from additional creative copy, or it’s possible you could have some tracking issues that are preventing you from knowing the true stats of your ads. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other professionals to help streamline your Facebook ad campaigns.

Companies that blog 15 times per month get 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog.

[Source: Ektron]

Takeaway:

Don’t let content marketing overwhelm you. Gather your team together every couple of weeks to brainstorm fresh content ideas. Then delegate responsibilities like managing the content calendar, writing and editing articles, and promoting across social media channels to different team members based on their skills and interests.

4 Out of 5 Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93% say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase.

According to a Nielsen survey commissioned by Yelp, four out of five Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93 percent say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase. [Source: MarketingLand]

Takeaway:

Online Reputation Management is an important part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Whether you’re a local business with a presence on Yelp or a global brand with wide international reach, it’s inevitable that your customers and other key audiences will talk about you online. Creating a plan for ORM can help save time and stress when issues arise and keeps the pulse on emerging competitors and developing trends.

Daily we spend 9 minutes on email via a mobile device, that is 7.6% of the total 119 minutes we use our phone per day.

[Source: EmailMonday]

Takeaway:

It’s time to ensure your mobile email marketing campaign is flawless. If you’re struggling with your email marketing campaigns now that mobile is dominating the market, get help from a pro. You don’t want to miss out on business just because your promotional emails aren’t displaying properly on mobile devices.

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Google Ad Rotation Change – The Workaround

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Many of you in the professional SEM world probably spend as much time as I do optimizing paid search campaigns, testing keywords and ads, and generally rolling around in all the data we have at our fingertips. As a firm believer in the mantra “test, measure, repeat” I was a bit peeved when I noticed that Google had changed the options for ad delivery in AdWords. My beloved “Rotate evenly” was replaced with “Rotate evenly: Show ads more evenly for 30 days, then optimize for clicks”. This small change has effectively removed our ability to do any longer term creative or other A/B testing.

The Real Issue
Some campaigns/adgroups don’t necessarily have enough traffic to do a legitimate test in 30 days. And even if there is enough traffic and conversion data to draw some meaningful conclusions, I never want my ads optimized for clicks. Google gets paid for the click, I don’t. What’s more is there is no obvious way to reset it for another 30 days. Selecting another option, saving, then re-selecting 30 days does no good.

After searching for an option on the Internet, I finally ended up calling Google directly. It seemed that the representative had no understanding of why this seemingly innocuous change was a very big issue for the advertiser. After a round of questions and answers with the rep, the issue was escalated. There was some lack of clarity on what the rotation rules applied to and didn’t. Here is the information I received back from Google:

  1. The ad rotation 30-day clock applies to the Ad Group level, not the Campaign, even though it is a Campaign-level setting.
  2. Modifying ads, adding them to the Ad Group, or even pausing and un-pausing will restart the 30-day clock.

An Annoying Dance
So, anyway you slice it, if you want to continue rotating your ads, you have some extra hoops to jump through. Keep in mind that any change to an ad does reset the metrics for that ad, so that one can be counter-productive. So that leaves us with the pause-unpause dance.

The Suggested Workaround

  • Set up an extra ad in each of your ad groups to use as a ‘switch’ you can flick to reset the clock at any time.
  • Use an identical headline or other element so you can easily sort it out using AdWords Editor.
  • Then you just unpause, post, pause post. This will reset your 30-day clock on all Ad Groups and leave all the metrics on your “real” ads intact.

I know it sucks, but it is what we have until Google gives us our tool back. I would love it if someone came up with a better alternative, so if you have, please share it with the rest of us.

———————————– UPDATE ————————————————-

As of June 1, 2012 the power of the people has influenced Google to reconsider this change. A word from Google:

“Also, in response to your feedback, we’re planning to make two changes to the setting. First, we’ll expand the even rotation period from 30 days to 90 days to give you a longer window for testing new ads. Second, if you still wish to have your ads rotate evenly indefinitely, we’re going to offer an opt-out of this change. You can opt-out by filling in your information on this form or by contacting your account representative. Both of these changes will go into effect on June 11, 2012.

If we see a large amount of demand for the opt-out over the next few weeks, we’ll also offer the opt-out in the AdWords interface directly.”

Read the reasons as to why they made this update in the first place on Google’s Adwords blog.

5 MUST Do’s In PPC Management

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

This article first appeared on agencyside as A Day in the Life of a PPC Manager where Mike Swan, Director of Search Marketing Strategy at Liberty Interactive Marketing is a guest columnist as well as a panel speaker on topics for search marketing strategies.

ppc managementOften when asked how I spend my day I answer “living the dream”. While I sometimes get a chuckle from those who are also fans of the movie “Wedding Crashers”, I usually get a look of bewilderment. While I get much satisfaction from this, sometimes there is an unlucky soul that asks me to elaborate on what dream I am living. It is those people who actually enjoy the “geek speak” to whom I am dedicating this post.

Professional PPC management has two facets; it is one quarter creativity and 3 quarters creatively analyzing data. Those with no aptitude for numbers need not apply; there is little chance for success without a highly analytical mind. Efficiency and processes are of paramount importance, especially as the number and complexity of the accounts increases.

Here are 5 things that must be attended to on a regular basis. How regularly depends on 1) traffic of the account and 2) industry.

1) Are All Systems Go – Rule number one, know what campaigns should be running and which should not. Realizing that a credit card was declined or the account balance has been depleted a week after it happens is never a glorious moment. Avoid it. I review two types of reports every morning. Both are Account Reports that contain the results for all clients. The first is the month to date. This gives me an overview of how the accounts are performing, what my budget utilization is and serves as my quick reference guide for broad inquiries on the health of the account either to the client or a team member. The other is the Yesterday report. This tells me what happened the day before, so if I see any weird results, like no traffic, it allows me to identify a possible issue within 6 hours or so of it happening. This can be a lifesaver.

2) Watch your Positioning – Know where your sweet spot is and manage to it. I also make sure the account average is in a narrow band. If it starts dropping, is it one aspect of the account or is it account-wide? This can help you identify competitive trends or Quality Score shifts before the account train wrecks.

3) Utilize Search Query Data – I like to keep a lot of broad match terms in my accounts to keep a good pipeline of search query data. This gives you a look at search volume, it helps you identify terms that you may want to go after. It also can show you some glaring holes in your campaign in both the opportunity sense and the negative sense. Negative keywords that is. This report will save your client many thousands of dollars of wasted traffic when you see some of the undesirable terms you are showing for. This is also a liability protector. The last thing you want is your client stumbling upon their own ad showing for an unsavory search. (Not to say clients ever search for unsavory things).

4) Budget Utilization – Due to the nature of PPC, there is no precise guarantee that you will spend your exact budget; in fact the guarantee is you won’t. What many don’t realize is that when you make a campaign budget change in Google, it is not a sophisticated system. It was explained to me by our Google rep (Do you like how I passed the buck on this one?) that when you make a budget change the system assumes it was made in the middle of the day, so the system will try to spend 50% of the newly set daily budget. What does that mean? Basically, if you make the change early in the day, you will spend less than you expect to, and if you make the change late in the day you can potentially spend quite a bit more than you expected. While over an extended timeframe it all evens out, if you are trying to make a significant end of month adjustment you could get burned. Moral of the story, watch your budget allocation.

5) Landing Pages – Is Conversion Code Tracking? – Often times we don’t have access to our clients’ web hosting server and more often server protocol is not in place, therefore leaving you vulnerable to getting tracking code overwritten, removed, deleted or your landing page throwing a Page Not Found error. Enter mayhem and dollars lost. Daily, check that your landing pages are up and running and that your conversion code is tracking (and still present on the page). If you don’t, this will hurt your bottom line, your credibility and your Quality Score.

This list is far from exhaustive, and does not address how to manage and improve PPC campaigns, just some of the things that you need to stay on top of.

We provide professional Pay Per Click Management Services, contact us today.

photo credit: fanginhoon

Understanding Expectations for Paid Search

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Great Expectations We wrote a similar article a few years ago on Why Aren’t My Ads Showing, and most recently we were asked to write a similar article for agencyside to help other agencies set client expectations for paid search. We’ve tweaked the original article a bit for our customers to provide a bit of insight and understanding into the workings of paid search from our perspective.

We often are asked “Why Aren’t My Ads Showing?”, so we are here today to provide a bit of insight into that question. There are several main factors that influence ad delivery. This list is not exhaustive, but it will provide you with knowledge to understanding the answer to the question.

1) Campaign structure – Remember you are paying per click, and generally have some sort of budget limitation. For example, let’s say you have a keyword with an average cost per click of $1 and a daily account budget of $100. This means you will receive 100 clicks per day on average. Because the paid search venues must stay within a narrow range of your budget your ad frequency will be directly related to your click through rate. If you have an average click through rate of 10% it will take 1,000 impressions to exhaust your budget. So if there is search volume of 5,000 per day for your keyword, your ad will show 20% of the time. Now consider if you have 50 to 100 keywords in your campaign all sharing the same $100 budget.

2) Quality Score is technically Google nomenclature, but all search venues have a method for determining something similar. Intended to be the great equalizer this determines what position your ad will show and at what cost relative to the other advertisers. This is what prevents us from buying our way into top placement for more competitive terms. Higher Quality Score means higher positioning, lower cost per click, and often greater frequency – all good things. The factors that affect Quality Score are well documented, but basically if you aren’t relevant, have poor ad copy or have some technical issues with your landing page you aren’t showing.

3) Age of Campaign – New campaigns can start off slow while the search venue is getting an understanding of the click through and user behavior relative to the account. This generally takes a few days depending on the size of the account. Larger accounts will take longer since there are more variables to assess. If you have a large account with a small budget, good luck. Better to start small and expand from there as the campaign picks up steam. See #1 for reasoning on this.

If you have a mature account that is losing visibility it may be time to reconfigure, redesign, or reassess to find another approach. Hopefully, you have some sort of ongoing optimization involving testing of campaigns elements in place so this won’t happen. Always watch for loss in visibility after a miscalculated major change in landing page design, site redesign or if you see your average cost per click increase substantially. Even with an unlimited budget your ads still wouldn’t show for every search. That is just the way it is. Google offers a tool to help diagnose certain problems related to ad visibility in the impression share component of its reports. This can tell you how much visibility your campaign is missing based on budget limitations or quality score.

Every impression (every time your ad shows) that doesn’t get clicked is detrimental to the account in some way. “Googling” keywords every day to see if your ads are showing is costing money, even if you never click on a single one.

If you are interested in understanding if your campaigns are performing to their potential, let us know. We can provide an audit and consultation to help you maximize on every dollar spent. Contact us today.

5 Best Practices for Content Network Ads

Friday, August 6th, 2010

This article first appeared on agencyside where Mike Swan, Director of Search Marketing Strategy at Liberty Interactive Marketing is a guest columnist as well as a panel speaker on topics for search marketing strategies.

Content Network is a Waste of Time and Money! Really, Are You Sure About That? I hear clients and Internet marketers alike make this statement as often as I hear the question “Why aren’t my ads showing?” but for now let’s discuss some best practices for advertising on the Content Network. It is not unlikely for us at Liberty Interactive Marketing to see content account conversions in the double digits, we recently managed a Gaming and Hospitality account with an average conversion rate of 11.11% on over 1,700 conversions. So we’re not shy in sharing some of our best practices with you.

Five Best Practices to Setting Up and Managing a Content Campaign:

1. Do not run Search- and Content-targeting in the same campaign. This is far and away the most important rule. When you create a campaign in AdWords it defaults to include all 3 networks (Google Search, Search Partners + Google and Content), make sure to separate them. If you are currently making this mistake, stop reading for a moment and turn off Content-targeting immediately.

2. Do not duplicate your Search campaign, run it on Content only, and call it a day. This is a reasonable place to start if you are in violation of #1 above, however, the job is not done. The key thing to remember is that while Search campaigns will give you performance metrics on a keyword basis, Content does not. You only have adgroup visibility, (an adgroup is a logical grouping of related keywords). So you don’t have a way of knowing if one or more of your keywords is making or breaking your adgroup.

3. Campaign construction is crucial to Content-network success. You want to make sure your campaign structure is as focused as possible. This means more adgroups than you would use for a Search campaign. You don’t have the same Quality Score considerations with a Content campaign so duplicates and plurals are acceptable. Also, keep the number of keywords per adgroup small. We have found the most success with 5-10 keywords per adgroup. Every campaign is different, so testing is important.

4. Content targeting algorithm matches content on the page to the keywords in the adgroup so, while “foreclosures real estate phoenix” may make a great keyword in a Search campaign, it is very hard to use in a sentence, so it is unlikely it will match to many content pages. So with that said, long tail keywords are not usually a great idea in a Content campaign. Using this example, you would be better served creating an adgroup with 3 keywords – “foreclosures”,”real estate” and “phoenix”. This combination will give the algorithm many more opportunities to match your ad to desirable content.

5. Google Keyword Tool is still recommended to find your initial keywords but it will just get you started. The Keyword Tool is primarily geared towards Search, so it merely serves as a jumping off point. If you already have a Search campaign running you can use that as a resource too. One methodology involves looking at the top performing keywords in your Search campaign (or promising ones from the Keyword Tool) and then looking at the organic results for each of these terms. Take the top 20-30 results and compare their content. Understand what phrases are commonly used and identify keyword themes. Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it is the difference between a mediocre campaign and a case study. I recommend building a tool to do this for you. We did.

These are some of the best practices to get you pointed in the right direction as you delve into the fascinating world of Content-targeting. But before you go hog-wild reconfiguring and re-launching, remember Content is not appropriate or profitable in all cases. Make sure you have a good understanding of the goals of the campaign or hire us to manage your campaigns.

Read the full unedited version here.

Image credit: Google Display Network

Competitor Terms: To bid or not to bid?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

One of the most common topics we encounter when planning a new paid search engagement is how much focus should be placed on the competitive landscape. More specifically, is it prudent to bid on competitors’ branded and/or product terms? There are a lot of considerations to make when answering this question.

ppc-bid-competitors-termsFirst off, the major paid search venues use some form of Quality Score or ranking system based on relevancy. Always keep in mind that the search venues get paid based on the click, not the conversion goal. Your profitability is secondary to theirs. As such, always consider – “Is my product/service/company more relevant for my competitors brand than they are?” If you answer “yes” than either you’ve found a utopian business or you are deluding yourself. Since your competitor will almost always be more relevant for their brand name and products, you will find yourself bidding higher just to maintain visibility. You are fighting an uphill battle with this one.

So should you even bother to bid on competitor terms? Yes, if you can commit to it. Strategy becomes crucial in this endeavor. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction:

#1 Make sure all your competitor-related terms are separated from the rest of the terms. Assign a specific budget to these competitor terms. Bear in mind that branded searches of any kind indicate that some preliminary research has been done or a familiarity exists. Because of this you are faced with the challenge of persuading someone who may be quite far down the decision making path to consider a different alternative. In order to convert these customers with a high degree of success, you likely need the perfect storm of: 1) better value 2) lower price 3) stronger call-to-action 4) and a reasonable degree of brand strength. It is not often a prospect will abandon what they are familiar with for an alternative they are not without 1, 2 and 3 being in place.

#2 Focus on what you can control. Often, when aggressively targeting competitors’ terms, you can expect lower Click Through Rates and a higher Cost Per Click than the campaign average. However, this doesn’t mean this traffic can’t or won’t convert. It does mean you need to focus on what you can control. Most prominently, your landing page and user experience. The traffic that is generated by this segment needs to be hit hard and fast with the information needed to ideally make a new buying decision, or at the very least, reset the buying process. Since the latter situation is far more likely, conversion measurement may need to be treated differently.

For instance, in the case of an e-commerce Product A and Product B: A certain percentage of the searchers for Product A will buy Product B if presented with the right value proposition. A larger percentage, which remains largely unknown or unidentified, will take a step back in their buying process and will start to consider Product B alongside Product A.

The first step is to create this audience by establishing credibility and proposing Product B as a worthy alternative to Product A. A word of warning: This cannot be done by disparaging Product A or its source, and it will take more than “Before you buy A, take a look at B.” If you do this, you will decrease your chances of converting these customers and will solidify their buying decision to purchase Product A. Give your potential customers/clients a little more credit.

This is a perfect opportunity to deploy a specifically targeted landing page, with an objective Features Matrix or some other tasteful comparison tool. It is our job as marketers to play to our strengths so definitely highlight what is better about Product B. Testimonials and third-party validation and accolades are appropriate to use here as credibility builders. Don’t be shy, but don’t be over the top either. There is plenty of research surrounding how to appropriately use testimonials, etc. and when to use them.

If you can build enough value in Product B’s strengths, then it is possible to overshadow its shortcomings. Not to point out the obvious, but if Product B has no positive comparisons to Product A, find a new job. In this day and age if you aren’t as good as your competitor, you better be cheaper, and if you aren’t cheaper you are out of business – you just may not know it yet.