Digital marketers often debate whether it is better to invest in paid search campaigns or in driving organic traffic.
And while both of these marketing avenues have their advantages and challenges, paid search can provide something organic search campaigns rarely (if ever) can – practically instantaneous results.
Today we will be looking at 5 different ways to optimise your paid search campaigns, with a view to improve sales and drive more traffic to the landing pages you are targeting.
Let’s dive right in.
Focus on the Highest Performing Keywords
In order to ensure the best possible results, your PPC campaign should focus on the keywords that have performed best in your previous campaigns. (If this is your first campaign for a certain website, don’t fret – we’ll have a similar piece of advice for you in a moment)
Depending on what the goal of your campaign is (for example, raising brand awareness vs. acquiring new leads), you will want to track different metrics.
CTR is always a good one to keep an eye out for – and 2% is the numeric value you are looking for as a bare minimum. You can also track conversions, quality score, CPC, CPA, etc. Instead of looking at the industry standards as your benchmark, you can also start with outperforming your previous campaigns, as opposed to chasing others’ figures.
Another important metric to consider is Return on Ad Spend – as well as Cost Per Acquisition. Naturally, you want your ROAS to be as high as possible. The industry standard is 4:1 (i.e. $4 earned per $1 spent) – but you will of course need to establish your own bottom line, based on your product’s value and cost of manufacture, the value of a conversion, a customer’s lifetime value and so on.
As for CPA, you calculate it by dividing the cost of your campaign with your number of conversions. You can check out what the most common CPAs in your industry are – but again, CLV will play an important part, as will your own knowledge of your industry, customers and ad trends.
Once you have identified your key performance indicators, select the keywords that have yielded the best results, and pour more resources into them, as opposed to keywords that are perhaps more sought after, but for which you are not seeing results.
Take a Leaf out of Your Competitor’s Book
If you are running a campaign for a website for the first time, you won’t have a keyword leg to stand on, so to speak.
Which is where competitor analysis comes in.
You will need a tool for the job to speed it up and make it flow more smoothly, but you can also do some manual research.
Pop the keywords you have already identified for the website (if you have done an organic campaign before – if not, based on common sense and SEO logic) into search and take a look at the ads that Google shows you.
This will help you identify competitors, and show you what kind of copy they are working with. You can then add these to your tool of choice and see what they have to say about their PPC campaigns.
You can use this information to map out a list of keywords you want to be working with, improve your ad copy, adjust your bidding strategy, and so forth.
Balance Your Budget and Your Quality Score
The key to PPC success is often finding the right balance between what your budget can afford you and the minimum quality score required to outperform your competitors.
Always aim for your quality scores to be as high as possible, as this will cost you less and will ensure your ad is the one that searchers actually see.
However, this might ultimately come down to investing a part of that advertising budget in better copywriters, more keyword research hours, or the actual bids.
The same principle applies here as before: the better the ROI of a keyword, the more you can afford to invest. Don’t set high margins for low converting keywords, especially if they are for a low-cost item. Always look for a ROI that will leave a wide enough margin of not only error but success. Weigh the ROI of a single conversion for your costliest item versus hundreds of conversions for your most affordable item.
If you find you can’t match the quality score of a competitor with your ads, refocus your efforts on a different set of keywords that leave you with more of a fighting chance.
Invest in Remarketing Campaigns
Remarketing can be your ticket to success. Given the fact that website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert, and that they are 8 times cheaper to acquire, diverting some of your budget into retargeting as opposed to broadening your reach is highly advised.
The key to retargeting success is personalisation – and the more specific you can get with your ad the better. Can you show a visitor a product they were already interested in but have not purchased? Can you show them a similar but more affordable product?
Don’t be too pushy when it comes to retargeting either – you may just be adding salt to someone’s wound if they are currently not in a financial position to purchase your product, yet you keep taunting them with it. Don’t show up on a visitor’s screen more than a handful of times.
A/B Test Everything
Finally, one of the main tasks of each successful paid search campaign is A/B testing.
A lot of PPC is based on learning as you go, coming up with a better copy, fine-tuning your bids and keywords, expanding your negative keyword list, changing the landing pages of your campaigns, and so on. And the way to tell if what you are doing is working is to A/B test.
Remember the basic rule of A/B testing: never test for more than one element at a time. You may find that you need to change both the copy and the display times of an ad. Don’t do both at once, but one at a time. That will allow you to be able to pinpoint the better option.
Of course, you can create a whole new set of ads and see how they perform – but this will leave you in the semi-dark as to the exact ad element that makes one set perform better than the other.
In order to ensure your paid search campaigns are driving the traffic and sales you need them to, you should remain ever vigilant and monitor your campaigns continually. Just because they are performing incredibly well today does not mean a competitor won’t find a way to write a better and more targeted ad tomorrow.
Test your campaigns, keep an eye on your competition, do ongoing keyword research, and adjust your bids as required.