Many digital marketers think that managing the PPC monthly budget is just an administrative task with little impact on results. But nothing could be further from the truth as it can have a real impact on campaign performance.
We introduced budget based bidding as a feature in ClickSweeper 9 years ago and since then have introduced four additional bidding options; ROI, Analytics, Conversion and Rank. What we have learned by analyzing the results of these various bidding options is that budget based bidding is the most secure and efficient as well as having the greatest utility as the rules in budget based bidding apply to almost every scenario and account.
Why is budget based bidding so effective?
We see two key factors that put budget based bidding on top. First, cost per click is most economical when ad spending is spread evenly over the campaign’s uptime. Second, account performance is optimized when a higher percentage of the ad budget is spent on campaigns with higher search volume and clicks.
If cost per click is most economical when ad spending is spread evenly over campaign uptime, keyword bidding must be optimized based on daily and monthly budget and adjusted as changes are made to the budget (budget management tool). The best performance will be achieved when keyword bidding is updated and optimized to reflect budget changes and spread over maximum daily and monthly campaign uptime.
If account performance is optimized when ad budget is focused on the highest performing campaigns, daily campaign spending goals must be optimized so that they are updated daily based on the remaining monthly budget. The best performance will be achieved when the budget is redistributed from campaigns with lower search and click volume to those with the highest volume.
While the concept of combining budget management with budget based bidding is simple, no PPC bidding tool vendor offers a monthly budget management feature along with budget based bidding, until now.
The power of ClickSweeper’s budget management and budget based bidding
- All budget management activities are automated
- 12 months of budget history automatically saved
- Month to date ad spending tracked and daily spending goal revised to spread the spending evenly
- Campaigns deactivated if monthly budget runs out before the end of month
- Each campaign’s budget based bidding adjusts keyword bid price daily to maximize click count and conversion count with guaranteed minimum visibility
- From keyword level, select keywords and set specific position to achieve maximum visibility
Who can benefit from ClickSweeper’s budget management tool?
- If your account or campaign’s monthly budget isn’t being closely managed
- If your account or campaign’s monthly budget changes frequently
- If the account has many campaigns to manage with monthly spending goal
- If the account prefers automation to manage ad spending and optimize PPC performance
Not all leads are created equal and not all result in the same sales conversion performance. As a result, any steps taken to improve lead quality will in turn lead to improved conversion rates and ROI. However, the process of improving lead quality can be a very complex and time consuming one.
Lead-to-sales conversion performance depends on many variables such as search ad vendor type, campaign, ad type, ad copy and keywords. For example, the conversion to sales ratio of a lead generated from a keyword search campaign can be vastly different from that of a lead generated from a display ad campaign or a remarketing campaign. It is also likely that a lead resulting from a Google search will have a different probability of converting than a lead generated from a Google partner network or Bing network. What this illustrates is just how critical the tracking, analysis and segmentation of sales performance data by ad channel, campaign, ad type, ad copy and keyword is to search marketing campaign optimization.
This is the ongoing dilemma for many marketers and especially perplexing for many small businesses and the agencies that serve them. You need a constant flow of new leads but how do you improve the conversion rate and ROI without breaking the bank or tying up all of your resources?
We believe intelligent automation of the SEM optimization process is the key and that is exactly where SAAS and Cloud business marketers need to look out for vendors that offer SEM solution. In order for the SEM optimization process to be automated, there are four key challenges or requirements.
First, a centralized backend system to receive and store all leads is required. All leads need to be passed into one backend system whether they come in the form of phone calls, online forms, email, blog or social sites with lead source information. While software and tools exist to make this centralization of leads possible, the cost of existing solutions can be high and out of reach for many businesses.
Second, an analysis of all leads to determine source must be accomplished. Each lead must be analyzed for source by ad channel, campaign, ad group and keywords. Once the source of each lead is identified, further analysis is needed to determine the source or sources that produce the greatest number of high quality leads. While there are a few options in existence that can provide help with this type of analysis, they can be quite expensive depending on the tool and implementation cost.
Third, lead status must be updated routinely so that a current picture of lead status is available. Manual updates of lead status may not be as easy as one might think. It generally requires either a dedicated staff member to update status routinely or a sales staff that is diligent about updating lead status. In our experience most businesses have had limited success with these manual approaches to lead status updates.
Fourth, lead quality data must be passed onto and utilized in the management of search marketing campaigns. Lead quality should serve as a KPI of search marketing campaigns. While there can be customized solutions to share lead quality data with search engine marketing optimization tools, until now these have been custom solutions that are costly to implement.
Now that you know what to look for from the process, you can make an intelligent decision in a search for SEM automation tool. Fortunately, there are more vendors to try to devise solutions.
There’s no denying that Google’s rise to power has been impressive. As someone who has been involved in online marketing for the past 10 years and has viewed the industry from different perspectives, I’ve watched them closely. I’ve seen them from the perspective of search advertiser, marketing agency and search ad application developer. I think it is interesting to look at their performance and how they use their power from these different perspectives.
Google started as a socially responsible company. In their beginning, Google offered organic search results that were unbiased and informative. While organic search has evolved over the years, with many improvements and some drawbacks, it still remains essentially unbiased. As we all know, organic search results are critical to most businesses and with the rise of organic search unethical SEO tactics followed. Google has done a good job at detecting and mitigating these unethical practices.
In the area of paid search ads, Google was a boon to advertisers in the early days offering cost effective advertising with analytics and flexibility to make changes quickly. The not so good, more recently Google’s ad costs have been on the rise and flexibility and customization have decreased while there are more features.
From an agency perspective, Google has provided a significant opportunity for revenue generation as agencies manage Google advertising for their clients. In the beginning Google’s support for agencies was minimal but over the years this has expanded and improved to the point that it is pretty good.
Last but not least is my view of Google as an application tool vendor. In the early days there was a significant opportunity for third party tool vendors as Google’s tool offering was minimal. But, not surprising, as the market for third party tool vendors increased, Google saw this as an opportunity and another revenue stream for them. Google’s tool offering has been a win for consumers so even though it took business away from third party tool vendors, I cannot be too critical of this move.
Then there is Google’s RMF (required minimum functionality) policy. This is where I see the Ugly. Google’s RMF stipulates the requirements that application vendors must meet to gain API access and it has become extremely burdensome for application developers. In the beginning the RMF requirements were manageable but they have increased to the point that they now represent more than 50% of Google’s ad management features. This is placing a heavy burden on both small and large tool vendors. Making matters worse, many requirements are not based on consumer needs. Developers are forced to meet requirements that the end user has no use for.
I think this policy has become tantamount to unfair business practices for the following reasons.
- The requirements are not there to meet customer needs, wants or desires since customers use software tools as an alternative to what Google offers.
- The requirements hurt agencies and marketers as there are fewer alternatives to choose from and the alternatives that are available are more expensive.
- The requirements add significant risk to small business software vendors as they have to allocate their resources to keep up with Google’s demands and have less time to improve their core features that ARE based on customer needs.
I am glad Google has been a socially responsible company in many areas and it is very important for Google to remain as one in the future. To do it, we, the industry insiders need to express our view to companies like Google. Let us know how you would rate Google.
If your business offers software as service (SAAS) or cloud based services, then you know only too well that the growth of this business model has exploded in recent years. The technical advances associated with SAAS and the cloud has created many new business opportunities. But along with those opportunities come new competitors making it increasingly difficult for you to cut through the advertising and marketing clutter and get your product or service to stand out.
A common approach for marketing SAAS and cloud based services that has met with varying success is the limited time free trial offer. While this can be an extremely effective marketing strategy, your success is dependent on the effectiveness of your search marketing campaign. An optimized campaign must have the ability to get your message in front of your target audience and then to generate quality leads or signups that are the most likely to convert into paying customers.
While that may not sound too difficult, the data on success rates is a bit sobering. It tells us that no more than 30% of those who sign up for a free trial will actually convert to a paying customer. To improve your odds, you need to know not only which clicks will become a signup but just as important, which signups are most likely to convert.
So what are the keys to improving your odds and optimizing campaigns? You must determine which lead attributes are resulting in the highest sales conversion. Lead attributes can include;
- Lead type such as call, signup, email or offline leads
- Lead medium such as CPC, organic, referral or email
- Lead source such as Google, Bing or Facebook
- Finally, there are more specific attributes from leads of sponsored search advertising such as keyword, ad copy and landing page
Once lead performance is segmented by these attributes, you then need to apply this data to your search campaign optimization. While this process is not too difficult to comprehend, building this process and automating it is not so easy. It requires that all of your lead data be integrated with your search campaign and then using this lead data to optimize for conversion rate of a lead becoming a sale.
Optimizing your campaigns using lead data is a key to success. It is more efficient, fewer dollars are spent as targeting is more focused, higher conversion rates are achieved as you know where highest signup rates and highest conversions come from. While it is possible to implement this approach to campaign optimization manually, it can be time consuming. We recognized this challenge and went to work to develop a solution aimed specifically at SAAS and cloud based who rely heavily on the limited time free trial offer. For more info, visit this page.
Read the following eCommerce success story and see how ClickSweeper can be applied to eCommerce business.
A4C is an online retailer with over 5 years of experience in the electronics and cellular accessories industry. From the outset Google Adwords was a large part of its initial growth. As its product count grew A4C started searching for an SEM company that could meet its needs while still giving it the ability to play an active role in campaign and keyword management as desired. Handing over the entire AdWords account management to an outside company without an easy way of monitoring their progress and processes was not what they were looking for. As well, the complex fee structures & paying a fixed cost based on conversions or monthly spend which most companies offered, they felt, were not in their best interest.
A4C was also seeking out a software service that would allow them to optimize their Google AdWords campaigns and maximize ROI at the campaign level, as well as at the individual keyword level. However, most pay-per-click management systems operated solely on a campaign level and focused on ROI on a very broad scale. What A4C wanted was to maintain control of individual keyword bidding in addition to general campaign management.
Varazo offered the perfect solution to meet A4C’s needs with their revolutionary and highly-customizable ClickSweeper software. ClickSweeper presented a variety of ways to manage AdWords campaigns and bidding strategies tailored toward each customer’s individual needs. Customers can decide if they want their bidding strategies based on analytics, ranking, keyword ROI, conversions, or a budget. The fee structure was also much more cost-effective compared to what other SEM firms were offering. Rather than charging a fixed rate or a percentage of conversions, ClickSweeper charges based on the amount of keywords they manage in an account. This means that having a conversion-driven bidding strategy won’t be more costly than a rank-driven strategy. In practical terms, A4C’s rise in conversions did not result in rising fees.
What really set ClickSweeper apart was that it allowed for specific keywords to override the automatic bidding strategy of the general campaign. That meant that A4C would be able to control certain keywords that they felt required more attention than the other keywords in the campaign. For example, if a campaign is set up with a conversion-driven bidding strategy, customers can fine-tune their campaigns by setting individual keyword bidding strategies within the campaign. For A4C, this flexibility was key in determining which PPC management software was right for them.
As A4C continues to grow and develop new and more complex AdWords campaigns, ClickSweeper’s services have proved effective and efficient. They helped lower A4C’s cost-per-click rate, simultaneously raise the conversion rate, and still kept the fee structure simple and straightforward. The flexibility and customization that Varazo’s ClickSweeper offers truly put them a step above other SEM firms and PPC management software.
For over 5 years A4C.com has been a leading online retailer in the cellphone accessory and consumer electronics industry. With over 100 percent year-over-year growth they are rapidly becoming a go to source for consumers looking for consistently low pricing on electronics and accessories along with an ever expanding selection and great customer service.
When conversion cost is a primary consideration in selecting your bidding strategy, ROI based bidding tends to be one of the most popular approaches. This strategy can be extremely effective but there are a few pitfalls to avoid particularly if your business is seasonal and you utilize seasonal keywords. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, you’ll soon be developing your seasonal ad campaigns. Before you do, I offer some tips and tricks for avoiding one of the pitfalls associated with seasonal keywords and an ROI based bidding strategy.
The challenge with seasonal keywords when using ROI based bidding is that they will be penalized for marginal performance during ‘off-season’ time periods and can only be ‘rescued’ manually with an inflated bid price. To avoid this pitfall and the need to manually ‘rescue’ keywords, it is necessary to use an alternative keyword bidding strategy, which is rank driven bidding with rules based on conversion count, cost per conversion, QS and CTR.
Here is an example of how this approach could be set up. First you would select ‘rank driven’ as the bidding strategy for your campaign and default max bid to control the top ceiling of your bid price. Next, you would group keywords into three tiers with two rules set based on cost per conversion. The top tier would have the lowest cost per conversion and be characterized by superior keyword performance. The bottom tier would represent an unacceptable cost per conversion. Because rank driven bidding is primarily controlled by the rank of ad position (1 to 10) it will keep keyword ads in play unlike ROI or conversion based bidding. Then when keyword performance returns to an acceptable level going into the sales season, it will adjust itself without human intervention.
There are two other approaches for controlling keyword bidding when using a rank driven bidding strategy. The first involves setting a max bid price of each tier group. For example, for the top tier you would assign the highest max bid price at 30% higher than the campaign default max bid. For the bottom tier you would apply a max bid that is 30% below the campaign default max bid. This adjustment of max bid allows rank driven bidding to be in check with cost per click while still setting target ad position.
See an example of this approach below.
Keyword group Target rank Max bid
Top tier 1.5 or 2 $5
Campaign default 3 $3
Bottom tier 5 to 10 $2
In addition, branding keywords are generally low cost and perform ideally. They can be set as the keyword level position goal with top rank, but with a lower max bid than the top tier group. For more info, sign in below or visit the site.
If you are running asphalt paving & sealcoating business, chances are you live and die by the success of your lead generation efforts. You spend a significant amount of time and money to generate a constant flow of new leads but are then faced with the task of effectively managing these leads and improving lead quality.
Many lead tracking and management tools are designed for businesses with complex lead management systems that include a long sales cycle and multiple sales reps that take ownership of a lead. These can be great tools for the right business. However, they are not suitable for your line of business and you may be paying too much for features you don’t use.
I understand this line of business relies heavily on paid search marketing, and local business listing along with Facebook and email marketing.
One of the biggest challenges to run paid search is to determine best performing search term and keywords and how much to bid on to improve campaign performance and optimize marketing efforts.
But, what does it take to improve both campaign performance and marketing efficiency? We think it comes down to one word: Integration; the ability to seamlessly integrate your lead management with your ppc (pay per click) management.
We serve this need by streamlining the lead tracking and management and passing lead quality with keywords to PPC management system which optimizes keyword bidding. This is the only software solution that provides integration of PPC management and lead management out of box.
Below describes an experience of our agent and business owner in applying this solution to paving business.
“I did not know asphalt paving business until Michael, who runs paving company in Florida, came to us to optimize pay per click advertising through our software, ClickSweeper. And, I offered him an integrated solution to manage and optimize Google AdWords campaign and track leads.”
Our integrated solution tracks leads whether they come from web signup or phone calls or Facebook and uncovers the source of lead through keywords and campaigns of Google AdWords search, and then optimizes keyword bid based on quality of leads and ad position.
Thank to this solution, his business generates more qualified leads and the owner is aware of where good leads are from. His comment was “Amazing tool! It tracks where leads come from to monitor the success and ROI of all my online and email marketing campaigns.”
Now, we like to offer this same solution to you. To signup, visit the website (www.clicksweeper.com) and email us.
One of the biggest challenges for today’s search marketer is to determine the best performing campaigns and campaign elements and then use that information to optimize marketing efforts to increase sales and improve marketing efficiencies.
Improving your campaign performance means more conversions and sales. Improving marketing efficiencies means you can do more, like take on more clients increasing your billable hours, or reduce your marketing expense. Either way this is a Win-Win scenario. But what does it take to improve both campaign performance and marketing efficiency? We think it comes down to one word: Integration; the ability to seamlessly integrate your lead management with your PPC campaign management.
In order to have a complete view of your marketing efforts from lead generation to sale and to truly optimize all elements in the process, you need information on lead source and lead quality in addition to campaign performance. Many tools exist to help you with campaign analytics and others for lead tracking and management. But what has been lacking is an easy and seamless way to integrate your lead tracking and management information with your PPC campaign management system.
Only when the two systems are integrated can you gain a complete view of your marketing efforts and have the ability to optimize all marketing elements to achieve maximum ROI. Without this integration you are left to manually optimize keyword bidding for your Google AdWords account or rely on Adword’s performance data for optimization. We don’t see either of these as a good option for search marketers.
Not sure this integration it is worth the bother? Just consider this; all conversions are not created equal. You already know that the quality of a lead can vary greatly. This is also true for conversions. For example, the quality, or probability of converting to a paying customer, of a phone call can be very different than the quality of a form submission. Consider that you likely have many lead sources. And the leads generated from different sources have different expectations and buying intentions. Without taking this lead source, lead quality and probability of conversion information into consideration, attempts at marketing optimization will fall short.
Hopefully you are convinced that the idea of integration is not only a good one but one you need to adopt. But what are the options for achieving integration? One option is to customize your marketing automation software to integrate with your PPC management software system. For some, this can be the right solution but it can be very expensive. Fortunately, there is now a second and more affordable option. There is a new to market solution that provides out of box integration for search marketers; seamless integration of lead tracking and management with PPC campaign management without costly customization. We like to call it “Marketing Automation for Search Marketers” or “Search Marketing Automation”.
If you are ready to get a complete view of your marketing efforts from lead generation to sale and you want to and start optimizing all marketing elements for maximum ROI, you’ll want to try out this new solution from Varazo: ClickSweeper SEM integration.
Conversion rate is one of the most commonly used and trusted Key Performance Indicators (KPI). However, I caution you against taking it at face value. There are many factors that go into calculating conversion rate and potential pitfalls when using it as an estimate for ROI.
First, depending on the type of conversion medium, actual returns can vary. For example, leads from phone calls vs. online form submissions vs. Facebook inquiries can have very different sales-win ratios. As a result, the value placed on a lead should reflect the differences between the conversion mediums. In other words, the sales-win ratio should be tracked by conversion medium and this information should be used in determining ROI.
Second, depending on the type of ad medium, conversion quality can vary. Let’s say you generate 10 leads from a search campaigns, 10 leads from a display campaign, and another 10 leads from a remarketing campaign. While they are all leads, the probability of a lead converting to a sales-win will vary by the type of ad medium. This lead quality by ad medium information should also be factored into conversion performance and ROI estimates for optimum search engine marketing.
Third, depending on the type of ad channel, conversion quality will vary. Many SEM managers find that B2B lead quality from Google is superior compared to other ad channels while B2C lead quality from MSN is often as good as or better than Google. Applying the same conversion value to each type of ad channel will not provide an accurate representation of the true lead quality and conversion performance.
Fourth, conversion tracking does not track the overall impact of a search ad campaign. While conversion tracking in search advertising can be a good KPI for keyword performance, search advertising can have a more far reaching impact. In fact, not advertising in search can have a greater negative impact than advertising has on a positive result.
Finally, keyword performance is only meaningful when keywords are of a similar type. There are brand keywords, general keywords, competitor keywords etc. Thus, managing ROI based keyword bidding with keywords of different types in the same campaign can result in unintended consequences such as the unintentional demotion of general keywords. Since brand keywords intrinsically have an advantage over general keywords in conversion performance, general keywords may get automatically demoted.
If you think your conversion tracking could be misleading you when it comes to estimating conversion performance and ROI, I offer three tips to help you avoid this trap.
First, add the effect of branding when promoting general keywords. When potential customers search on general keywords, they have not made a decision on the vendor/brand for the product or service. To add the effect of branding you can either increase the target cost per conversion or promote the general keywords with a visibility goal.
Second, manage keywords by keyword type in your campaigns. As mentioned above, it is better to group keywords by type and create separate campaigns for each group. This will help you optimize campaign performance based on the specific objective of each campaign.
Third, track lead quality by ad medium, ad channel, and lead type (or conversion medium). In order to obtain this type of information, you will need to deploy a lead management system that can identify lead source by medium, ad source, and lead type. Ideally your lead management system should also be able to track search marketing related information such as campaign, ad type, ad copy and keyword.
Some, but not all, lead management systems track this level of lead source detail for search engine marketing. Ideally, your lead management system is integrated with your pay per click management system giving you automated keyword bidding; the highest level of search marketing automation.
Think your conversion tracking could be misleading you into suboptimal decisions and your campaigns could benefit from detailed lead quality tracking integrated with PPC? Worried that it sounds difficult and expensive? Then, you’ll want to check out Varazo’s SEM integration solution; a simple, easy and affordable out of the box solution.
Of course, the number one job of a SEM manager is to develop killer campaigns and optimize marketing ROI. But we know in the real world, you are often tasked with justifying your ad spend to your CEO and senior management who often do not have a background in SEM or online marketing. Particularly if your cost per click runs high, you’re likely to get tasked with justifying ad spend on a regular basis.
To demonstrate to your management that your ad spend is justified, there is nothing better than to deliver the actual name of clients that came in through your search advertising and the details on the specific campaign elements that are driving the most conversions. To uncover the source of new customers, you can turn to a number of advanced lead management systems or marketing automation systems. While most do a good job of identifying source of lead by ad channel and ad medium, most don’t provide the ability to drill down to the search term, keyword and ad copy level; a level of detail that is necessary to really understand the campaign elements that are working best to generate your best new customers. Not only is this information useful for optimizing campaigns but also can be used to help justify your ad spend to senior management.
If you are willing and have the discipline to manually update your search campaign’s keyword bid price on a regular basis, then a basic lead tracking or marketing automation tool will probably be all that you need. However, if you do not trust your ability to make regular updates but depend on the tool to optimize your search campaign by updating keyword bid price, then the tool you use must incorporate information about lead quality from your lead management system in order to be truly effective. For example, you want to keep the keywords that generate paying customer in the top 3 positions and you want the tool to keep updating bid price to keep them in the top 3 on the search result page.
We believe this more intelligent type of tool that incorporates lead quality with PPC is the wave of the future. But you can have it now. With the integration of ClickSweeper PPC management and ConversionSweeper lead analytics and management, you can track the source, down to the detail level, of your best customers.
If this sounds like a tool that can not only help you optimize your campaigns but also justify your ad spend, you’ll want to take advantage of our offer. We are so certain that you’ll see big improvements and efficiencies that we are offering you a chance to try it out for free. Get your 2 month free trial here.