12 Rules for Maximizing Conversions from AdWords

Today we have a guest post by Derek Hooker, Chief of Search Marketing at White Shark Media™.

Google AdWords is a very impressive advertising platform. It provides us with numerous tools and features to work with and make our campaigns better. As long as you have the right mindset, resources and strategy, you can make your campaigns rock!

I’ve always said: “you just have to get creative and analytic with the tools you are provided with.”

So with that in mind, I decided to create this sort of guide with twelve ways to advertisers take their campaigns to the next level, especially when focusing on conversions. Please keep in mind that the features and techniques listed below are not sorted in any priority order. You decide which ones to implement first based on your specific case:

1. Start Rotating Ads to Optimize for Conversions

Ad Rotation is a basic feature that you put in place when you’ve already accrued a certain number of conversions (no specific number) and have started converting regularly. This feature gives you the power to rotate through several different ad versions to find out which works best for a given set of keywords.

It only makes sense to have your ads “Optimize for Conversions” when that is your main purpose, but when is it not? If you’re “Optimizing for Clicks”, you’re assuming all clicks turn into customers at the same rate. The ads that serve more and receiving the most clicks are not always the ones driving leads and customers.

2. Ad Scheduling Bid Adjustments

When it comes to e-commerce you may want to have your campaign running 24/7, since customers can complete a purchase online 24/7. However, certain times of day may generate lots of expensive clicks, but few purchases.

Use adwords to report on the hours of the day and days of the week to when your customers are really converting.

It may pay to schedule ads for e-commerce campaigns that exclude early hours of the day (after midnight and before dawn). I call this the “zombie hours” because I rarely see customers taking action during these hours. At these hours, customers just browsing around and this turns out to be a big expense that leads to higher cost per action (CPA) and lower return on ad investment (ROI).

You may see something different. It makes sense to exclude some hours and adjust bids based on the times you are experiencing more conversions.

For example, in the screenshot below you can see that I started doing ad scheduling (4 am – midnight), because in this particular case, there were very little to no conversions between these hours. Hence, I’ve raised bids on Tuesday and Friday to maximize the conversions on these days, since they convert very well, at a lower cost and lower position.

3. Location Target Bid Adjustments

If you’re running a nationwide campaign or one that is targeting multiple locations (states, cities, metro areas, etc.), take some time to figure out where most of your conversions are coming from. You would be surprised on how differently users behave from different locations, and it is sometimes best to target them geographically with targeted tactics.

The Adwords Dimensions tab gives you a good general insight on how each location contributes to your overall campaign’s performance. Use the “User Locations” View.

I guarantee you that if you have been running a campaign for a long time and have not taken the time to look into this, you will find locations that have a ridiculous cost/conversion or no conversions at all, representing an unnecessary expense for your campaign.

In this case, it is the best to exclude these locations from your existing campaign. If these locations are really important to your business and you want to really exploit them, you can target them on a separate campaign with a separate approach. All of these, after building an effective strategy based on that location’s user behavior and data pulled from Google analytics.

4. Bid Strategy: Enable Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC tells Google that they can raise your bids on ads that seem to generate more conversions. Use this feature carefully, because it works for some campaigns and not for others. Nevertheless, AdWords is all about testing, optimizing, analyzing results, and making decisions. Don’t be afraid to try new things, use features you have never used before or don’t understand very well. I always encourage everyone I talk to about AdWords to get creative and think out the box and get out of your comfort zone.

One of the best scenarios where I would recommend using this setting is when your campaign is in its early stages. If your campaign is converting regularly and has at least 15 conversions in the past 30 days, then it is probably eligible for Conversion Optimizer (which we will discuss further).

Enhanced CPC is 1 step away from Conversion Optimizer, which is why it is more reasonable to work with this setting if your campaign doesn’t have that much historical conversion data, yet you are looking forward to drive more conversions.

5. Implementing Conversion Optimizer

Some advertisers and business owners are skeptical about using the tool, because they are afraid of “giving Google control their bidding strategy”, which is why they take the conservative road and stick to manual bidding (this can also be the case of Enhanced CPC).

In order to have success with Conversion Optimizer, one must have solid knowledge of how it works and be careful how you set your CPA bids in order to obtain your goals

The Conversion Optimizer is a very powerful tool. There are essentially two bidding types:

Conversion Optimizer

Max CPA:

Use this bidding type when budget is not limited or your CPA (Cost per-acquisition) is not very high. The algorithm will try to maximize the amount of conversions based on the conversion data.

Upon selecting this option, it will suggest a Max CPA bid (the most you are willing to pay for a conversion) based on the historical conversion data.

 

Target CPA:

Use this bidding type when your CPA is too high and you want to make it more profitable. This option helps you to reduce the CPA while continuing to bring in the same or higher amount of conversions (Google AdWords will also suggest to start Target CPA bid based on your historical data).

Before choosing any of these bidding options, you need to figure out what exactly it is that you want to achieve; whether this is an increase in the amount of conversions while sacrificing a higher CPA, or if you are struggling to reduce your CPA and trying to find a solution on bringing this down.

Something very important is to remember that once you choose your bidding type, the selected CPA bid will be applied to all your ad groups. You would need to review this afterward and adjust it accordingly.

Typically, every ad group has a different CPA and it should not be set to the default CPA bid suggested by the system. Adjust it according to your criteria, based on what CPA is best for each ad group.

6. Focus on Converting Keywords and Ads

On a campaign that is performing very well, there are ad groups, keywords and ads that are the main drivers for these conversions. Sometimes, 1 to 3 ad groups are responsible for 60% of the campaign’s overall results. The other ad groups convert every now and again at a decent CPA, and that is why we decide to keep them running.

        

  • Once you’ve identified which are these keywords and ads, create variations, try to identify other potential keyword variations for your campaign based on the ones that have converted.
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  • Create keyword variations in different match types to cover more ground.
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  • Create ad variations based on the best performing ones, whether this is just changing the call to action, headlines or parts of your description lines – even small changes can have an impact.
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  • Analyze how these elements are performing over time and perform bid adjustments based on what has been the best ad rank to work with.

These are just a few of the creative and analytic adjustments that you can do with your keywords and ads.

7. Implement the Best Converting Ad in Other Ad Groups that Are Applicable

I like to compare ads’ performance across my campaign. There is always one specific ad that is your “killer ad”. It is important that we identify why this ad does better than the others. Whether it is a result of the call to action, description line, or benefits mentioned in the ad.

Once you’ve identified the driving factor, compare this ad with ads in other ad groups. If all ad groups are promoting the same products or services, but with different keywords, it would be beneficial to start using this ad across all other ad groups that are applicable.

8. Pause Non Converting Keywords to Focus Your Budget on Converting Elements

A beneficial practice is to perform a campaign evaluation at the end of every month, every 3 months and every 6 months. This facilitates a better grasp of how the campaign is doing from time to time. Performing a monthly or quarterly assessment is important, because it helps you identify historical trends, spikes and areas of opportunities.

One of these areas of opportunities is reallocating your budget to focus on what is actually being productive. For instance, you might have a campaign with 200+ keywords, but less than 50% of those keywords are productive.

I encourage you to take a look at your campaign at a keyword level, create a customized filter to show only keywords that have not converted in the past 3 months, and another filter for keywords that have converted at a higher CPA than your actual goal (or above ideal CPA).

You will be surprised of how many keywords will show in that filter, and how much money has been wasted on them throughout the duration of your ads.

Once you make a full assessment and decide to pause most of these keywords, you will have space to exploit your budget and focus higher bids on productive keywords.

9. For E-commerce Campaigns: Use Google Analytics E-commerce Transactions

If you’re running a campaign for an e-commerce website, it is crucial that you work with Google Analytics and that the e-commerce transactions tracking is setup properly. Google Analytics will provide you with an abundance of data to assist you in the success of your ad campaign.

With E-commerce Transactions tracking, you have the most granular level data; data for strategic account management, and business driven decision making.

As long as your AdWords account is linked to Google Analytics and reporting accurately, you will be able to determine:

        

  • revenue driven per ad group
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  • per keyword
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  • per ad
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  • bounce rate
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  • visit duration
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  • and more.

Analyzing an AdWords e-commerce campaign through Analytics can be eye opening. One can be under the impression that the ad group or keyword that drives the most conversions in AdWords is the most profitable one, but there are times when having more conversions doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue.

The prices for each product differ and that is why an evaluation in Analytics is indispensable. You will be able to determine which ad groups and keywords are producing the most revenue and which ones need improvement.

10. Add Converting Keywords from Analytics that Perform Well in Other Traffic Sources

With goals setup in either Analytics, or “Ecommerce Transactions Tracking”, you are able to analyze and determine which sources are more productive for you; whether this is Google Organic, Direct Channel, Google CPC, etc.

One of the most competitive sources is Google Organic, particularly if your client is doing SEO and has decent ranking in Google Organic SERP. This is something that you should exploit and add the benefits from that source to your AdWords campaign.

One approach is to review Google Organic Source to see what keywords are driving conversions. To do this:

Go to Analytics > Go to All Traffic > Select Google / Organic > as Primary Dimension, choose Keywords.

Select a larger time frame than just the last 30 days, and do a comparison with the keywords in your campaign and other keywords from this source to determine which ones you have not implemented. Add them to your campaign and you will see results if implemented with the best practices.

11. E-commerce: Focus on Top Converting Products

Another way to exploit Google Analytics and E-commerce Tracking is by easily identifying which your best selling products are, how much revenue they represent to your total and work with them accordingly.

In Analytics, under the Ecommerce Overview, you will see: Your top selling products

Image 5

 

Review this list however you want, within the interface or by doing a csv export, and run with it. Research the life of your campaign and see which of these products you are not advertising directly (as in using targeted keywords with the name of the products), include these in your campaign, tightly themed with some killer ads, you’re all set!

12. Explore Other Campaign Types Such as a Remarketing Campaign

From small to large companies, search campaign is one of the most effective online marketing efforts when your purpose is direct response. However, you can’t disregard the fact that there are other marketing channels to be explored and exploited.

Some marketers and business owners still are hesitant to expand their marketing efforts to other channels once they are doing well with a Search Marketing campaign. It only makes sense to invest more to get more. If you limit yourself with budget, you are limiting the reach of your success.

That is why expanding to other marketing efforts is so important, once you’ve already killed it with one channel.

There are so many other effective campaign types and efforts such as:

        

  • Remarketing – Remarketing lets you show ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the Web
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  • Display Campaign -You can reach a wide range of customers with broad interests, choose which sites or pages to appear on, and engage users with appealing ad formats when ads are in the display network.
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  • Product Listing Ads – A unique ad format that allows you to include rich product information like an image, title, price, promotional message, and your store or business name.
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  • Shopping Campaigns – Shopping campaigns are a better way to manage and optimize Product Listing Ads to promote your products online using retail-centric tools.
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  • Dynamic Search Ads – Dynamic Search Ads automatically show your ad based on the content of your website.

Don’t be afraid to expand and explore other marketing efforts, as you can see there are many options available to you.

Be Analytic, Creative and Always Think Out the Box

The Online Marketer that works on AdWords platform and doesn’t use Google Analytics for a better grasp on their user behavior analysis or to track ROI to produce measurable results, should now be expanding their marketing efforts with Google Analytics.

I encourage everyone who is still not working with the combination of these tools to get started – more than likely, you competition is using them already. If you are passionate about AdWords and Google Analytics, your deeper understanding and use of all that Google has to offer, you will stop at nothing short of success in your marketing efforts.

“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” – Napoleon Hill

Derek Hooker is Chief of Search Marketing at White Shark Media™. He is both Google AdWords Qualified and Bing Ads Accredited. Derek is determined in constantly providing his Clients top results via his a ROI/customer care-driven approach. He specializes in both eCommerce and local search campaigns. You connect with Derek on GooglePlus and LinkedIn.

 

 

For further reading on maximizing conversions through Google, please read the following articles:

It’s All About You: The Future of High Quality Link-building

A New Kind of Marketing Battery: Google’s New Smart Lists

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