ppc

If you ever went to the government and asked them what your fair share of taxes should be, they would first ask you how much you made last year.
And that would likely be the answer.
Likewise, a conversion optimizer would probably be the last person to ask how much to budget for conversion optimization. “How much budget do you have?”
Nonetheless, I’m going to give you the tools to add conversion optimization to your budget next year. Then, when you call us next year, you’ll be ready.

Where to Get Your CRO Budget

One key question you need to ask is, where will I get my CRO budget? I have some suggestions.

1. From IT

The basis of any conversion optimization effort is a sound analytics and measurement foundation. This consists of tools that slide under your website and are bolted in place. This is IT stuff.
Our research has shown that most businesses’ websites have some level of implementation of analytics. You don’t want to be left behind. This is a crucial behavioral database that will be invaluable as you begin to vet ideas for testing.

2. From the Things You Should be Testing Anyway

It is a golden age of marketing. We have more tools, data sources and shiny objects to drive our online businesses than any marketers have ever had. We can mobile gamify our ratings and review process using direct visitor feedback to drive personalization throughout our content funnels.
In other words, we’re overwhelmed, and the first sign of a marketing department that is overwhelmed is the decision to redesign. [pullquote]Your website probably doesn’t need a redesign. It probably needs to be optimized.[/pullquote] Put the redesign money into an optimization program and see immediate results.
There is a good way to get your head around all of the things you could be doing to your site. You could test the ideas. Instead of blindly pouring money into exit-intent popovers, live chat, or personalized recommendations, you should test them. We have seen these work and we have seen them fail.
Your conversion optimization team will know how to use data to make good decisions on where to spend your money. Budget for optimization first.

3. From Your Ad Spend

Paid search is a great way to generate qualified traffic. However, our success in search causes our fundamentals to “regress”. It becomes harder to increase traffic, and the new traffic often is less qualified, less profitable.

When you spend more, get less traffic and make less money, it's time to try optimization.

When you spend more, get less traffic and make less money, it’s time to try optimization.


[pullquote]When your traffic is flat, ad spend is rising and profit is dropping, you know you should be putting some of that into optimization.[/pullquote] This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is a period of sweat and anxious hand-wringing.
You see, conversion optimization takes time. There is a very real dip in performance. When you reduce spending on ads you reduce your traffic and your revenue. For a period of time, your revenue drops until your optimization efforts get traction.
It might look something like the graph below. This assumes a modest 5% increase in revenue per visit (RPV) each month for one year, and that 8.9% of ad spend, or $8900, is invested in optimization each month. In this example, we began with a conversion rate of 1.7%.
If you can make it through a short valley of death, borrowing from your ad spend can be very profitable.

If you can make it through a short valley of death, borrowing from your ad spend can be very profitable.


Monthly revenue dips due to the reduction in PPC traffic. Revenue returns to baseline levels in month four. Revenue is positive in month six compared to investing in PPC only.
The Return on CRO (green line) turns sharply north, even though we are still investing 8.9% of ad spend each month. This is what powers conversion optimization. You have a compounding effect working in your favor, but you have to invest on the front end.
Send me an email if you want to see all my assumptions.
It’s this four-to-six month dip that marketers and managers fear. How do you sell a drop in revenue to your boss?

4. Pony Up

The other option is to reach into your own profits and slap down some cash on your conversion optimization team.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. There are three costs you must deal with when investing in optimization.

The Components of a Conversion Optimization Budget

The Software

The first cost is the least bothersome. Conversion optimization requires a certain amount of data to succeed. [pullquote]Testing is not that hard. Deciding what to test is quite difficult.[/pullquote]
The competition in the marketplace is pretty brutal. Each year, we get more functionality from cheaper and cheaper tools. At a minimum, you’ll want a good click-tracking tool, a good session recording tool, a strong analytics database and a split-testing tool.
Depending on your traffic, these can be had for a few hundred dollars each month up to several thousand dollars each month.

The Team

None of these tools matter if you don’t have someone to pull the levers, turn the knobs and read the graphs. The main functions found on a conversion optimization team are:
A researcher to collect qualitative data.
A statistically-responsible person to collect and evaluate quantitative data.
A developer to create the changes in each test.
A designer to implement design changes.
A patient QA person to be sure nothing is broken by a test.
A project manager to keep the momentum going.
It is possible to have one super-amazing person who can do all of this. It is the death-knell of your conversion optimization program to ask someone to do all of this in addition to another job. Your PPC person is not going to be able to do all of this and their job too.
These are fairly expensive employees. Consider hiring an outside agency, like us, to get started. As of this writing, Conversion Sciences can provide these functions for less than ten-thousand dollars a month.

The Opportunity Costs

There is a cost to testing that is not seen in reports. It’s the cost of losing treatments. In any list of “good” ideas for increasing your conversion rate and revenue per visit, fully half will actually do more harm than good. We don’t know which of our ideas are “losers” until we test them. When we test, some percentage of your visitors will see these losers, be turned off, and won’t buy.
This is lost revenue. With proper management, this downside can be minimized, but it is the cost of doing business. It’s the price of admission, the overhead, the burn, that funny smell in the kitchen.
It’s hard to budget for this particular line item, but it should be part of your discussion.

Be Clear About Your Upside

If I haven’t scared you off, there is good news. We call it the upside, the green bling, statistical bignificance, and sometimes we just dance.
You should understand what your statistical bignificance is. You must know the answer to the question, “What happens if my conversion rate goes up a little?” We call this a Basic Unit of Upside.

Conversion Upside Calculator
Click for a Conversion Optimization Upside Report that does the math for you.

We offer our Conversion Optimization Upside Report to help you understand your upside. It calculates what your yearly increase in revenue would be if you only added 0.1 to your conversion rate or revenue per visit. Plug in a few numbers and you’ll see what small changes mean for your bottom line.

A Little More Motivation

For most businesses, conversion optimization is a ten-thousand-dollar a month investment or more. Many businesses are spending a whole lot more than that.
If conversion optimization is on your “maybe next year” list, consider what might happen if you give your competitors a year’s head start on you.
The business with the highest conversion rate has the lowest acquisition cost and can profitably boost bids on their paid advertising. Plus, Google favors high-converting landing pages when assigning ad placement.
With a realistic understanding of the costs of conversion optimization and a real appreciation for the potential upside, you should be able to make the case for adding it to your shopping list in 2016.
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Feature image by frankieleon via Compfight cc and adpated for this post.

Will CRO agencies adopt SEM, or will SEM agencies integrate CRO?

The perfect storm of online business, the peanut butter and jelly, the gin and tonic, the Abbot and Costello will be SEM and CRO. The reason is that the conversion rate of any business is calculated by dividing transactions (leads, sales or calls) by the number of visitors overall. Those businesses with the highest conversion rates enjoy both targeted, qualified visitors and optimized websites.

High converting sites optimize both sides of the equation.

There is no better source of qualified traffic than that brought through search engine marketing (SEM).

Both organic and paid search traffic represents visitors who have expressed a certain intent. If you can deliver an on-site experience to match that intent, you will gain customers at a lower and lower acquisition cost.

What kind of agency is going to deliver this one-two punch? Will a CRO agency adopt the search marketing services and bring them to market or will a search agency adopt full-stack website optimization practices?

Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences and Jim McKinley of 360Partners will debate this question in their free Webinar on September 17th The CRO + SEM Agency: Challenges and Opportunities.

The conversation will begin with violent agreement on the importance of bringing these two practices together. We will examine the trends in search marketing and website optimization.

Then things will get interesting. These two industry veterans will tackle some of the harder questions.

  • Do these need to be under one roof, or can agencies partner to deliver a complete package? Why or why not?
  • How would search agencies have to change their business models? How would a CRO company have to change?
  • Why do so few agencies claim to do both?
  • For those agencies that offer both, are they really providing the double-digit conversion rates that the combination promises?

Watch the webinar on-demand.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a highly effective way to get your products in front of new prospective customers and drive sales, but only when campaigns are set up with the right touch. Depending on what keywords you want to target with your bids, search ads are generally not prohibitively expensive, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of blowing through your budget on PPC without justifying your media spend with enough sales.
The PPC management mistakes that most commonly ruin advertisers’ chances of respectable ROI involve text mismatches. All too often, an ad’s keyword settings do not match the language used in the ad’s creative, or the landing page content does not match the language used in the ad’s creative.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019

Why Matching Terminology Matters

Successful PPC marketing hinges on continuity across all touch points. Web searchers enter search terms into Google based on a need they are trying to fulfill. By the time users have formulated their queries as lines of text, they have already been forced to think about what they’re looking for as being specific to certain terminology. Thus, if your message is going to resonate with them, it has to use the very same terminology.
Google users naturally gravitate towards organic search results. To catch people’s eyes, your ad needs to convey that it addresses the exact issue that the searcher is trying to solve. What’s more, search terms that appear within ad copy appear in bold letters, adding to their visibility and click-throughs.
When people click on the ad, they are expecting to find a matching solution on the other end. You know that dirty feeling you get when you click on a content headline that over-promises and the article ultimately under-delivers? That’s a similar feeling to what happens when there’s a disconnect between search ad copy and landing page copy.
When you get that feeling, you’re unlikely to do business with whoever gave it to you. And that’s why it’s so important that the landing page refer to the exact need at hand and offer an appropriate solution, all using the same terminology. This is one of those landing page best practices that tends to be right every single time.

The Power of Maximized Continuity

Lack of continuity will result in customers leaving your conversion funnel before opting in to your lead capture offer or purchasing your products.
If a customer searches for “cyan polo shirt summer sale” and you show him an ad for “men’s clothing,” he is not likely to click on it, even though your online store might very well offer cyan polo shirts in the men’s section. Even ad creative touting a “blue polo shirt” product won’t perform as well as the phrase “cyan polo shirt” would – the closer to an exact match you can get, the more effective your ads will be.

Use the word "cyan" to describe the color of this shirt, not just "blue"

Use the word “cyan” to describe the color of this shirt, not just “blue”


The same principle applies to matching ad copy with landing page copy. If your ad promises a “cyan polo shirt summer sale” but you send people to your homepage, where there are 25 different apparel products being showcased and no trace of any type of sale, the visitor is likely to bounce out extremely quickly.

Customized Ecommerce Text Variations

Using standardized language across your website is necessary to maintain an atmosphere of professional polish and so that your internal search engine will work well. On the other hand, when you set up your search ad campaigns, you should be performing some extensive keyword research to reveal all of the alternate wording that people use for the same thing.
Going back to the same example, you may learn that people often search for polo shirts that are “sapphire,” “teal,” or “turquoise,” which are all reasonably close matches to the “cyan” that appears on your product pages. It totally makes sense to bid on ads to appear on search results for “sapphire polo shirt,” but in cases like these, you may want to create alternate versions of your product pages that only visitors referred by this specific ad will see.
Just make sure to keep these variations out of sight of the search engines, so you won’t get penalized for duplicate content – and out of sight in the website navigation, so visitors do not get confused.  KISSmetrics explains how to make sure that variations don’t get indexed.
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Dynamic Keyword Insertion

A helpful tool in this process is a Google Adwords feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). This tool will adjust your ad text to reflect keywords in the user’s search, potentially accomplishing the same goals we just discussed.
Wordstream ran a case study testing the effectiveness of DKI with a client, and found that using this strategy had the following results:

  • Impressions dropped 6%
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) increased by 55%
  • Conversions increased by an incredible 228%

DKI more than doubled conversions

DKI more than tripled conversions


The results speak for themselves.
In the context of continuity, the key is to have a very small number of keywords in your ad groups. For top performers, you may even want to use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS).

Customized Lead Capture Page Variations

If your offer is for a service, a B2B product or something otherwise relatively expensive, then you don’t need to send visitors to ecommerce-integrated product pages at all. In these cases, a sparser landing page is likely to perform better, and it’s easy and inexpensive to create new versions of your landing pages for each keyword combination that you bid for.
Landing pages like these are generally aimed at capturing leads rather than driving sales, since major purchases require more pre-sale relationship building to establish trust and to educate prospects. Many of the better marketing platforms available in the open market offer modules for both landing page creation and autoresponder marketing emails.
If lead capture is your goal, focus your Adwords strategy on your prospects’ pain points rather than your offer’s specifications. For instance, a financial consulting firm could run PPC ads for the search term “family budgeting help” or “debt advice.” These ads could lead to landing page variations for each search term, with each one offering visitors the option to download an eBook that provides practical tips on family budgeting and saving money on household bills.
A campaign of this type takes into account that the prospect is having trouble balancing his or her household budget, and it offers a quick and easy solution that also positions the advertiser as a trustworthy expert in the field of family finance. This paves the way for follow-up messaging.
Another benefit of this type of hyper-specific targeting is that it allows marketers to segment the entire customer journey and serve up nurturing emails that match the subscriber’s specific interests. A post-campaign analysis of the relevant conversion data can reveal which segments represent the advertiser’s most valuable customers, thereby informing subsequent marketing strategies.

Doesn’t Have to Be a Bottomless Pit

You do need a landing page for every important ad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should set up hundreds of landing pages. Instead, focus your campaign on a select number of lead nurture audience personas (three or four) and create an ad that’s optimized to speak to each one of them. Create a unique landing page for each of these ads and set up an autoresponder to send follow-up emails with relevant content to each persona.
If you’re marketing an ecommerce property with a diverse product line and a shopping cart system, start by trying these tactics for just a few products. If it serves you well, then you can focus on making your work flow scalable down the road.
PPC campaigns that are set up for maximum terminology variations are likely to enjoy boosted conversion rates and revenues, so that ad dollars are less likely to go to waste.

About the Author

Jacob McMillen is a freelance copywriter and content strategist. He enjoys working online and pretending to think in his spare time. Follow him on Twitter @jmcmillen89.
Graph image by Statista (via Skitch)

Companies will typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, but only $1 to convert them. Traffic is only half the solution to a successful online business.
If you’re putting 90% of your effort into driving traffic to your site, and minimal effort into optimizing your site for conversions then you may as well throw off the lab coat right now.
Like any great scientific experiment, you need to include the right elements to create a winning formula. And when it comes to a winning conversion formula, nothing screams “Sale!” more than a good call-to-action (CTA).
On paper the equation looks easy. Create a clear CTA for a product that delivers, and you’ll achieve sales. [pullquote]So why is it that 47% of websites don’t have a CTA that can be found within 3 seconds or less?[/pullquote] You shouldn’t expect a customer to take action if you haven’t made it abundantly, painfully, overwhelmingly clear what you want them to do. This is one reason many sites are losing the precious visitors they’ve struggle to bring to the site.
Take a look at these smart calls-to-action with tips on how to use them effectively – from the homepage – right through to the sale.

#1. How to get people to sign up for an account: Basecamp

Basecamp's CTA

Basecamp’s CTA


Basecamp is a product that has enjoyed amazing online success year after year. Look at the Basecamp homepage and notice where your eyes are drawn first. Yup, it’s the call-to-action. It stands out like a sore thumb.
The minimalist design of the page really makes the sign up button pop. It’s a huge block of color, surrounded by white space. The key here is that the dark color of blue isn’t used anywhere else on the page, so it is the most visually “important” thing on the page.
Your pages should make it visually clear what path the visitor should take in order to move to the next step in their journey to conversion.

#2. How to get people interested in your product: MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike


Smart CTAs even transcend language barriers. You don’t have to speak Germany to understand what it wants you to do.
As soon as you jump on the MyOwnBike homepage, you are invited to start designing your own bike via some persuasive writing techniques.
Again, a minimalist design is centered around the product image with a prominent call-to-action begging the visitor to click. And once clicked, the visitor gets to design their own bike and watch it transform in front of their very eyes – making it fun and engaging.
It’s a no-nonsense approach that relies solely on design to show the visitor what they should do next.

#3. How to push people to the product page: Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos


Sometimes, the CTA need only put the visitor on the right path. The CTA on the homepage of Asos does an excellent job of getting the visitor into the right part of the site. Visitors are split into two, males and females. To tackle this problem, Asos features two huge CTAs that lets the visitor pick which gender they would like to shop for.
This is a smart and simple way to move shoppers through to the category pages, where they’ll hopefully refine their search further and find exactly what they’re looking for.
The usual principles of a strong call-to-action apply, of course. The page uses liberal amounts of white space. Branding and navigation elements are black. This ensures the ‘View Women/View Men’ buttons clearly stand out in a vibrant blue color.
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#4. How to push people to the checkout: Amazon

Your CTAs shouldn’t compete. One CTA should is ideal, but you often need to add more than one CTA. This is where it becomes a little trickier to refine your CTAs. Competing CTAs cause confusion and friction. A secondary offer on the page may cannibalize conversions from the primary, more desirable offer.
The Amazon product page uses color and position to achieve this on its product pages.

Two examples of Amazon's primary and secondary CTAs

Two examples of Amazon’s primary and secondary CTAs


When a shopper is debating whether to buy they have two options:

  1. Add to bag/basket – the primary CTA
  2. Add to wishlist – the secondary

The clear option is for the shopper to add the product to their basket so they can checkout. But if the visitor is hesitating, the ‘add to wish list’ button gives the visitor a back up option. Rather than losing that visitor to a competitor, Amazon chooses to provide a lower-commitment option.
The color and button size of the primary CTA sends powerful signals about what a visitor should do. And if you look at the contrast between the primary and secondary calls-to-action, you can see how much more attractive the primary option is.
The key here is to use a clear visual hierarchy with your primary and secondary CTAs, to push them towards the sale.

#5. How to make the sale: BarkBox

Once you click ‘get started’ on the BarkBox homepage, the journey from the product to the checkout page is simple, clear and most importantly, engaging.
First, using fun illustrations you select the size of your dog.

Barkbox's visual tactic leading you to the sale

Barkbox’s visual tactic leading you to the sale


The call to action here is “Select Dog Size.” It is not presented on a button or link.
The next step asks visitors to select a monthly plan. Notice how the most expensive plan is highlighted as the best value.
Barkbox's monthly plans

Barkbox’s monthly plans


You’re then given the option to treat your dog to a toy. Notice how the ‘Yes Please’ option is highlighted automatically.
Barkbox's upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.

Barkbox’s upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.


In general humans are reluctant to say “No,” so the negative call to action, “No, thank you.” may actually reinforce the primary call to action, “Yes, please!”
The site then asks for an email address.
The call to action is "Create Your Account"

The call to action is “Create Your Account”


By clicking on, “Next,” you’ll be taken to the shipping and payment page. This page is crucial to closing the sale, and as you can see from BarkBox, they really hit the nail on the head. They don’t ask for more details than necessary, and they don’t include any hidden charges – a reason why 70% of shoppers on most sites abandon their carts.
The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale

The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale


The key takeaway here is that calls to action rarely stand alone. The process of purchasing is a series of calls to action, each of which may or may not be a button or link.
Top tip for your checkout page: If you need to use a multi-step process then use a visual progress indicator like a progress bar so customers can manage their expectations regarding how long it will take.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see from these powerful examples, the CTA is clear, each standing out clearly on the page, and each having an intended purpose. By using contrasting colors, on a clean and simple web page, you’ll make your CTAs stand out and guide your visitors to the sale.
Looking for more awesome ways to supercharge your website? Download this eBook for 10 ways to convert shoppers into buyers.

About the Author

Bryan Robinson is a Digital Business Analyst in charge of Marketing for the Commerce division at Spark Pay. He specializes in Lead Generation, PPC and SEM, while also overseeing content production for Spark Pay online store. He has also started and flipped his own eCommerce websites for over 10 years.

One of the great benefits of speaking at great conferences is getting to learn from your peers in the industry. Joel Harvey and I did our first LIVE tag-team presentation called “The Chemistry of the Landing Page.”
Tim Ash gave an insightful and “inciteful” keynote presentation at the PPC Hero Conference here in Portland Oregon. Here are my instagraph notes taken live as he spoke.

Tim Ash Hero Conf 2015 Context Power of Framing

Click to Enlarge


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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.
  •     

  • Create keyword variations in different match types to cover more ground.
  •     

  • 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.
  •     

  • 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
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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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The Conversion Function is the number of actions taken for an online property divided by the number of visits to that property.

The Conversion Rate Function

The Conversion Rate Function: Actions over Visitors


Here is where we find the solid blue line in our websites.
It runs through our sites and our landing pages. It slices our prospects’ mobile phones, their tablets and their computers.
PPC, SEO and Content Marketing-Digital Transportation

We charter the digital vehicles that carry people to our online properties.


We begin by chartering the digital transportation that will bring people in under the line, these confounding and complex people we call visitors. This is not an inexpensive undertaking.
We cajole Google with it’s menagerie of penguins, pandas and hummingbirds. We cast our banners and our ads across the internet, chasing prospects as they surf. We create the content, we share on social, and we send the emails that bring them to us.
We pay their fares promising them a trip to a place meant for them. Our place.
They arrive below our line, looking for that solution, that thing that will make them feel better, that product to adorn themselves, that moment of entertainment when they can let go.
The blue line stands as a ceiling to our visitors and they image how things might be different if they could just get up there.
Above the line.
They are always tempted by the exit, the back button, the next search.
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It is this blue line that our visitors struggle with, which means that we as online businesses struggle with it, too.
Those tempted by the line find reason and method to climb.
For some, this might be quite easy. Others will accept the help of friends and strangers.
We create the line. We draw our blue line. Sometimes higher. Sometimes lower.
It is our duty help more of our visitors to rise above this line.
How will you help your visitors become customers?
We choose the tools that will elevate them.
Will we let them devise a system of pulleys and knots with which to climb.
Will we provide the clear steps, a little boost in their efforts.
Will we ask them to make a leap of faith and trust in their agility to spring safely above our blue line.
Will we try to make it effortless using the machinery of our websites to transport them to a fixed location, a place above the line? And what will make them take that leap, to step on, to push the button.
The vision we have for our blue line is one in which many make the journey. They come with their money in hand, ready to spend, ready to engage.
Conversion happens when visitors rise above the blue line.
We see them coming with ample intuition and a nourishing supply of common sense, all calibrated by the way we see our business, ourselves and our world.
As it turns out what we call sense isn’t that common.
These frustrating people we call visitors aren’t like us. They aren’t even like the people we know.
They come with their own rules, with their own ideas of beauty and their own sense of how things should work.
They are not here to be manipulated. They are here to be understood.
When they are not understood, they seem mesmerized by the exit, transfixed and hypnotized.
Why are so many visitors drawn to the exit?
We paid to bring them here and they, in their flagrant individuality choose not to stay.
What Quicksand does your site create for visitors?
In our hubris, we create the quicksand that will trap them. Did our navigation confuse them, do our words lack clarity, did we call them to act in the way they like to act.
We are opaque to them, and this is scary. Our very visitors fear us like a bad dream on Halloween.
Your visitors have natural fears keeping them from converting.

Your visitors have natural fears.


Are we lurking behind our website, ready to pounce, to steal from them or, worse, to make them feel stupid and incompetent?
Do we fear being known for who we really are? For it is the unknown that allows our visitors imaginations to run to places we did not expect them to go.
How are we dealing with this complexity?
For this is a complex problem.
How high will we set our line? What distance must these lost souls cover to find their solution?
What have we provided them? Why should they put their fears aside? How will we transport them above the line?
For it is their journey from below the blue line that tells us who they are and who we should be for them.
I’m pleased to be exploring these questions over three days at Digital Elite Camp in Tallinn, Estonia.
Estonia via Google Earth
If you aren’t planning to be in Tallinn, you should follow us from right where you are. We’re going to be exploring some fun and helpful stuff.
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How predictable are people when they are on the Web? As it turns out, they are not very predictable at all. For any site, the audience is very different, even among sites in the same business.
Whenever we try to predict how people will behave, we are trying to predict the future. There are several ways we do this on the Web:

“What worked for others will work for us in the future.”

[pullquote]Predicting the future based on what your competitors is doing is like painting a room to match your neighbor’s furniture.[/pullquote]
Your site is different. Your audience is different.
And what others are doing may not be working for them. They may be just copying someone else.
Sliders are a great example. Everyone uses rotating images on their homepages. In our tests, rotating header images rarely beat static images, though we have a recipe for making them much more effective.

“What I like is what everyone will like.”

Most of our sites suffer from what we call “selling to ourselves.” The major problem with this approach is that everyone on your team is a different self. The designer designs for herself, the writer writes for himself, and the marketing exec approves what they themselves approve of. The site will speak with many different voices, both visually and textually.
This approach only predicts the future for visitors who are like the members of this team, who have the skillsets that the members of this team take for granted.

“What we have today will continue to work for us.”

While things can change, this is one of the more reliable ways to predict the future. We say that, based on past experience and data, we can predict what will happen tomorrow.
This method predicts the status quo, but does not properly incorporate sales growth into the future vision.

“We must experiment to see what will work in the future.”

When we treat every idea as a hypothesis, we are able to ask much more specific questions about the future. Experimentation allows us to see the future in high definition.
When we say, for example, “Our competitors are using video, therefore we should use video,” we are stating a hypothesis. When we test this hypothesis, we are finding out if our statement predicts the future. Then we can say, “Our test shows that video led more visitors to buy, so we can assume in the future that video will generate more sales.”
Likewise, saying,  “I don’t like watching videos when I shop online, so visitors will not like video on our site,” can also be stated as a hypothesis, though the opposite of the one we stated above.
If we had already tested video, we would be able to predict if visitors like video or not based on the sales generated. We don’t need to guess because we have gained the ability to predict the future.

A Unified Fortune Telling Technology

This process unified all of the future-predicting strategies. When every idea becomes a hypothesis to be tested, it becomes possible to tell the future with more accuracy.
We always test from where we are today, adding our hypothesis to the mix and testing it against the page as it is.
It makes sense to consider what others are doing and our personal taste when coming up with ideas. It is when we put those ideas in the context of the existing site and test them that we gain a future-seeing goggles.

I’m Speaking at PPC Hero Conference

April 28, 2014 | Austin, Texas
Explore what drives consumer behavior and how you can optimize your content to best drive their purchase decision.
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Join us

Let’s be honest; Brian is a bit biased on this subject. After all, he’s not just a conversion optimizer, he’s THE Conversion Scientist. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t right.
If you are currently spending money on a PPC campaign, there is no reason not to use a part of that budget to bring in a conversion optimizer.
PPC is all about conversion; how many people are seeing the ad, and how many clicked. What if you could spend the exact same amount of money on PPC and, with just a few tweaks from a conversion optimizer, you could increase the number of clicks without paying for larger volume (and less qualified) traffic?
By focusing on Average Order Value and Revenue Per Click instead of just Conversion Rate, a conversion optimizer can help you make sure your PPC budget is being spent wisely and giving you maximum sales for your money.
Read Brian’s entire article on Search Engine Land.

I got to attend my first Conversion Conference in October of last year and I am pleased to have been invited to speak at this year’s San Francisco conference.
First of all, I learned a LOT at last year’s conference. And I study this stuff all day long.
I don’t pay to attend many conferences, but I think I’m pretty good at picking those that give me information I can use “on Monday.” Conversion Conference is definitely one of those. Just look at some of the agenda items:
Biggest Usability Mistakes That You’re Probably Making
The Science of Shopping Cart Abandonment (I will never look at cart abandonment the same)
Rapid Fire: Lessons Learned from 30,000 Conversion Tests (These kinds of presentations are gold)
Merging SEO & Usability to Drive Conversion (I say “YeSEO”)
Creating Killer Conversion Copy – Email, Landing Pages, PPC Ads and More (This is mine. Never bore your visitors again)
Getting Smart About Conversion on Mobile Devices (We’re all going to have to deal with mobile sooner or later)
I can get you $100 off if you register now. Enjoy the savings , but come for the new leads and new sales you’ll be getting all year round.
I’m completing the chapters of my new book due out in this Spring. Find out how you can get a free copy of the book when its available.