Although it can get expensive, companies find to grow fast paid search (PPC) marketing is an effective way to generate new revenues. And with precise and predictable outcomes, paid search is an attractive option. Theoretically, if you spend X amount of dollars, then you will generate Y amount in sales.
Even though the competition on keyword bids is at an all-time high, paid search is still one of the most effective tactics to capture demand from handraisers. This is an especially solid tactic when other tactics are not driving enough conversions. However, if your PPC campaigns are not executed or optimized correctly, then you run the risk of exceeding your budget quickly and leaving new opportunities on the table.
I thought I’d compile a list that marketers should follow before running their paid marketing campaigns at full throttle.
Here are my top 6 tips:
1. Migrate to a Bid Optimizer Platform
Paid Search is an algorithm play, so you need machines to beat out machines. Stop managing your campaigns manually and migrate to a bid optimized platform.
Having a bid optimizer or a bid management platform is critical. Why? Because when you start a paid search campaign, you’re not just playing with 100 or 1000 keywords. You’re also playing with four different match types such as Broad Match, Modified Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match. And in these match types, you need to have many keywords.
It’s impossible to manage those keywords manually. That’s why you need a bid management platform.
A bid management platform doesn’t just manage the volume of keywords, but it can manage the volatility of those keywords in real time. The most successful paid search campaigns are run on state-of-the-art bid management platforms like Kenshoo, Adobe Optimizer, Wordstream, Acquisio, Google Adwords editor and others. Most of these platforms are either rules-based or objective based or some combination of both. This is a critical piece that marketers should know before going all out on one platform or the other.
In a rules-based bid management platform, you can set rules like; never let my keywords fall under position 3, or never let my keywords bid above $5. That’s a rule which in computer language is known as an IF-THEN statement. Rules-based platforms are lenient because they have simple and straightforward rules.
Objective Based Platform
Objective-based platforms don’t measure against the rules. They typically measure against your performance objective. For example, you can provide a performance objective like you want 100 conversions at no more than $200. Then, the platform figures out the optimal position and optimal cost-per-click (CPC) for that keyword. So it doesn’t matter what position the keyword is in or what CPC the keyword is. As long as you’re managing your objectives, the platform will do the trick for you.
2. Optimize the Account Structure
When marketers see if something is missing, they’ll add more keywords, change the match types or make the bids a little high/low. However, nobody notices that the foundation of a paid search campaign is based on a quality score and optimizing the account structure.
If you have a great account structure, then automatically your quality scores will increase and CPC will decrease. One way to measure your account structure is to have tighter ad groups. If you want to create an ad group, have no more than 8 or 10 keywords.
For example, let’s say you’re selling an iWatch. Here, you just focus on iWatch as a keyword and create just one ad group which has some variations. Group and call it a ‘digital watch ad group’ and have 10 keywords under it. So you make sure that you are creating many ad groups that are tight that have no more than ten keywords.
3. Keyword Match-Type Optimization
Adding, deleting, and optimizing keywords are critical. Similarly to how you do an account cleansing, you optimize ads and remove keywords with negative matches. When you do an account audit, you add new keywords, optimize the keywords and then delete or keep them on a negative match for keywords that you don’t want to bid on.
What is a Negative Keyword Match?
When creating an ad campaign through Google AdWords, consider using two main types of keywords:
- The list of keywords you want to target
- The negative keyword list.
Negative keywords are the ones where you don’t want your ads to be shown. For example, let’s say you’re trying to sell wall or desk calendars. People who search for ‘online calendar’ or ‘printable calendar’ are not your target audience, so these are keywords you add to the negative keyword bucket. Such types of negative keywords tell Google about the search queries that are irrelevant for your business and will prevent your ad from getting impressions for searches that will not lead to sales.
4. Improve Ad Copy
Consider the copy for the meta description – First it describes the benefit, then the offer, then the Call to Action ( CTA).
Our philosophy around writing ad copy is simple. Use these three elements for writing great ad copy.
- Benefit – How does the user benefit from this ad?
- Offer – if they click on the ad what are they going to get?
- CTA – Where will the user take the action? (call-to-action button)
Writing ad copy is not complicated. If you follow a methodical structure which has benefits, offers, features and CTAs, you can never go wrong. That’s the basic advice about writing great ad copy
5. Customize Landing Pages
In Paid Search, your goal should be to have relevant landing pages with your keyword groups. This helps your ad quality score a great deal which in effect helps your Cost-per-click (CPC). This helps Google maintain the relevancy and the quality of their Adwords platform.
The other instance is your ad quality score drops if your ad copy does not match the landing page or worse — it takes you to home page or a 404 page. Many times we see campaign managers use DKI (dynamic keyword insertion) as part of their copy and this creates a mismatch.
For example, you have this dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) and that keyword is not linked to the correct landing page. So when the user clicks on the ad, the landing page refers to something else. This gives the user a bad experience. In this case, you’re not just wasting marketing dollars, but your quality score is also coming down because your landing pages are not targeted.
6. Do A/B Testing
A/B testing works on everything from landing pages to ad groups and copy. It is a huge topic in itself, but you can test many variables comparing version A and version B. One of the common mistakes when it comes to A/B testing is most of the time versions A and B are not that much different from each other. You must always have a version B completely different from version A. That is the essence of A/B testing.
When you conduct the test, make sure to not test too many variables at one go. For example, let’s say you want to do an A/B test on ad copy. If in version A you change the headline of the ad and in version B you change the copy of the ad, then that’s not the correct way to do A/B testing.
Whenever you do an A/B test, you have to compare apples to apples. So, if you test the headlines of version A and version B, then just test the headline. Don’t change anything other than the headline. If you change more than the headline, then you’ve added another set of variables that changes the test.
Remember, Google Adwords is driven by their quality scores where a higher quality score equates to lower Cost-Per-Clicks (CPC) so many of the above points, when executed correctly, will have a bigger impact on your overall quality score and performance.
Do you have tips for optimizing your PPC? Are you choosing the right mix of tactics that work best for your business? Call me and let’s talk digital marketing.