Archives for "PPC Articles"

Posted by James Lee on 10th September 2014

Keyword bidding strategies for the seasonal business can be tricky

Seasonal businessWhen 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.

Posted by James Lee on 15th May 2014

Your conversion data may be misleading you.

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.

Posted by admin on 13th March 2014

How to Safeguard Rank Driven Bidding

ClickSweeper introduces Target Ranks 1.5 and 2.5 for more accurate placement at lower costs

As an online marketer that depends on rank (ad position on search result pages), there are times when you want to bid aggressively to get the maximum exposure, but want to avoid paying premium to be at the top. That’s why ClickSweeper has developed target ranks of 1.5 and 2.5 in hopes that this small enhancement will give you the comfort you need in setting and reaching your target goals.

In the ideal scenario, you would achieve the highest rank at the lowest cost. Unfortunately, this is unlikely. A target rank of one (1) may motivate competitors to aggressively raise their bid prices, thus increasing target bid prices higher and higher. In this case it would be helpful to bid between rank 1 and rank 2. This was not an option, until now.

Now with ClickSweeper you can target rank 1.5 or 2.5.  With this selection, you will lower the risk of bidding a premium bid price while still achieving top 3 ad positions.

ClickSweeper’s Rank Based bidding strategy offers two ways to safeguard bid price besides rank goal. Bid price is bounded by a max rank bid that you’re willing to pay, and one allows the target rank to be set based on one of keyword performance factor such as cost per conversion, CTR, quality score or conversion count.

With this new feature, ClickSweeper offers customizable automation to achieve your marketing goals at an affordable cost without demanding all your time.

For more information, visit us at

Posted by admin on 24th February 2014

Digital Marketing based on Signup Quality

There are many options when it comes to ad channel selection. While I am certain that you already utilize some form of ad performance tracking, your current method falls short if it does not measure marketing ROI.

One of the most commonly used key performance indicators or KPI for search marketing is cost per conversion (CPC) or cost per acquisition (CPA).  Below is an example of a typical search marketing KPI.

Typical SEM platform  

           Conversion        Click        Cost/Click        Ad Spend        Cost/Conv

Kw1            5                    200            $2.50                $500                   $100

Kw2           10                  400            $1.25                 $500                   $50


In the example above, a typical search marketing platform measures cost per conversion. In this example, the data indicates that keyword2 performs better than keyword1 based on cost per conversion performance.

However, by factoring in the quality of signups from your campaign, the results are different. This is illustrated in the table below.

Varazo SEM platform

           Conversion        Qualified        Disqualified        Sales Win        Cost/Score

Kw1           5                          3                          2                             2                       $41

                                       Score= 6           Score=0              Score=6     


Kw2         10                         3                          7                                1                     $55

                                       Score=6             Score= 0             Score=3      


In the example above the quality of signup by status such as Qualified, Disqualified and Sales Win is factored into the performance analysis.  The conversion score reflects the quality of signup, and the keyword‘s performance is measured by the sum of the quality score.

With this approach keyword1 shows better performance with lower cost/score than keyword2 and it results in a very different max bid update than the bid update when this data is not available.

While the concept is simple, implementing this signup quality logic into your SEM account can be complicated. You’ll need to find a PPC bid management system and lead source tracking system where both leads and lead source are tracked.  These two systems will then need to be integrated so that signup quality can be added to the PPC management system to optimize keyword max bids.

Varazo is a SEM integration platform that now offers this solution through its existing ClickSweeper, PPC management software, and our newly released ConversionSweeper, lead source analytics. Together these two platforms provide a simple solution for digital marketers who want to improve signup quality and to accurately measure return on their digital advertising.

If you thought about it or have an experience in integrating these two systems, please share your thought or experience in the comments below.

Posted by James Lee on 6th May 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 5/6

Welcome back for this week’s PPC management round-up. We’ve got a good mix of articles for you today, including some in-depth technical ones on using Excel for PPC and lowering CPA, and some more general interest ones on different Google bid strategies, negatives, and more. Read on for the best of this week’s PPC articles!

To start things off, John Lee at Search Engine Watch looks at Google bid strategies (max CPC, enhanced CPC, and conversion optimizer) and how to transition from one to another and why. He walks us through the basics, starting with the default max CPC setting, and shows us what to watch out for when switching to a different strategy.

Next, Chad Summerhill at PPC Summit offers a detailed tutorial on using Excel formulas for PPC. If you haven’t figured out how to turn Google Adwords Editor and Excel into a powerful duo, it’s time to start moving beyond VLOOKUP.

Next, Tom Demers over at Wordstream gives us five ways to lower CPA. No, not your tax person — your cost per action. We love Tom’s straightforward approach and his emphasis on the bottom line, which businesses overlook with surprising frequency.

Do you have a systematic method of adding negative keywords? If not, it’s worth the time to develop one. Geordie Carswell at PPC Blog offers some of his favorite research tools and strategies for adding negatives, along with some basic advice. Negatives are still a great way to improve the quality of your clicks.

Finally, a post about PPC…and bananas. George Michie at Rimm-Kaufman Group offers a great example of how averages lie and why paying more for top positions doesn’t make financial sense.  Read up on the details — great charts and clear explanations — on the blog.

And that wraps it up for this week.  Check out ClickSweeper PPC management software for an easy, affordable management solution. Sign up for a free trial today!

Posted by James Lee on 29th April 2011

PPC weekly roundup 4/29

Welcome to this week’s weekly PPC management round-up. Can you believe it’s almost May? This year has brought a lot of changes to the PPC world already, and we bet Google has some more tricks up its sleeve. No surprises this week, though. Just some good, need-to-know info on quality score, building lifetime customer value in PPC, and more. Read on!

To start us off, a resource for PPC ads that we think you’ll want to bookmark. Like, now. Alex Cohen at ClickEquations has compiled the ultimate list of PPC ad testing resources, with fantastic (and even canonical) articles on the basics, advanced strategies, testing ideas, and more. Whew. Tons of really great stuff here. Whatever your current strategy, these articles will help you develop a better one.

Next, an article from PPC Hero on what your visible quality score isn’t telling you. (You didn’t think Google would really give you the full picture, did you?) Quality score is more complex than it seems, and there’s more than one affecting your account. Learn about the types of quality (including competing ad copies and geographic performance)  you need to monitor for yourself and stay on top of the quality score game.

We love Brad Geddes at Certified Knowledge. His PPC posts at Search Engine Land are consistently thoughtful, well-researched, and extremely useful. This week, Brad takes on bounce rates and when and how they matter to your PPC campaign. (Hint: keep the bottom line in sight.)

Next, a slightly off the beaten track article at PPC Blog on what comes after the sale. Geordie Carswell offers some great suggestions to build lifetime customer value in order to maximize your investment in PPC. It’s common sense that your cost per conversion goes down drastically if a customer keeps coming back. Start courting those customers in all the right ways.

Finally, a neat little case study on how much difference ad copy can make from the Boost CTR blog. A snappy title, an offer that the customer wants to hear, and boom, 115% improvement. Read the details and learn how to tighten up your ad copy.

That wraps it up for this week. Have you tried our award winning PPC management software yet? Get a free two week trial now!

Posted by James Lee on 22nd April 2011

PPC Management Weekly Roundup 4/22

Welcome to the Earth Day edition of our weekly PPC management roundup! Pay per click isn’t known for being green, but on the plus side, think of all the paper it’s saved in diverting your budget away from traditional advertising. Now get out there and go for a walk…after you’ve updated your PPC campaigns.

Let’s start with Brad Geddes over at Certified Knowledge. With his usual thorough, analytical style, Brad looks at 3 strategies for organizing your keyword match types. You already know that using broad, phrase, and exact match can have different effects on your campaigns, and that using all of them at the same time can be beneficial. But how do you do it? What’s the best way to structure your campaign to max out on these benefits? You’ll have to click to find out.

Next, some news from both Google and Bing. Matt McGee at Search Engine Land reports that Google is now testing instant previews on PPC ads. When a user mouses over your ad, a preview of your landing page will pop up. More reason than ever to make your landing page look attractive and relevant. We’re watching with great interest to see how it affects your CTR. Bing, on the other hand,  has some broad match issues that are negatively affecting traffic. Mark Ballard at Rimm-Kaufman looks at how Bing has difficulty determining when a broad match click will be relevant to an advertiser. We all complain that Google’s broad match is often too broad, but Bing’s strictness in adhering to your broad match terms also negatively affects your traffic — and bottom line.

Want to fight back with more comprehensive keyword lists? This week, Wordstream announced its new keyword research suite with what they claim is the biggest keyword research database on the planet. Test drive it for free. We’d love to know what you think.

Finally, Dan Brandao offers a savvy Facebook PPC strategy to try, warning that “playing by the old rules will see your advertising efforts fall flat.” We agree. Take a look at Dan’s three step process that funnels prospects into increasingly targeted actions.

That’s wraps it up for this week. We hope you found these articles useful in tuning up your campaigns. To get your hands on a smart, affordable PPC management software tool, don’t forget to sign up for your free trial of ClickSweeper!

Posted by James Lee on 15th April 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 4/15

Welcome to this week’s cream-of-the-crop PPC management articles. Is it us, or does it get harder to narrow them down every week? We have some great articles lined up for you on product listing ads (a.k.a. PLAs), AdCenter’s new quality score-type-thing, how to ramp down (or up) spend, and more. Read on!

Shawn Livengood over at PPC Without Pity starts things off with an article on how to succeed at in-house PPC. If you’ve only managed multiple accounts PPC at an agency before, in-house PPC is a whole new creature — sometimes in very good ways. Shawn takes us through the major differences, offers great pointers, and leaves us with the always valuable advice: don’t get complacent.

Next, George Michie, Matthew Mierzejewski, and Mia Brennan take a long, hard look at managing PLAs. You know, the shiny picture ads above the PPC text ads in the right column. If you didn’t jump on this opportunity when it first became available to advertisers, you might want to think about it soon. Competition’s already heated up. Here are some tips for setting up, running, and monitoring PLAs. 

Wondering how Google Instant has affected PPC results? Find out now on the ever helpful PPC Hero.

As MSN AdCenter develops, it heads off into innovative new direction…well, OK. Not really. Joseph Kerschbaum over at Search Engine Watch probes the new MSN quality score, which looks so much like the Google quality score we know and love. (Or hate.) The major difference is that MSN claims that your quality score will not affect your ad rank or CPC. We’ll see…

And finally, a tidy little primer from Melissa Mackey at Searching Beyond the Paid on how to ramp up — or down — your PPC spend. Melissa offers some tried-and-true tactics for each, going far beyond simply changing your daily budget. Thanks, Melissa!

That’s it for this week, but we’ll be back next week with the most useful and interesting of PPC news around the web. (If you’re done reading and want to get managing, may we recommend a free trial of ClickSweeper PPC management software?) And if you’ve written a terrific PPC management article, send it our way by leaving a comment!

Posted by James Lee on 8th April 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 4/8

April’s off to an interesting start for the PPC world. This week we have news — again — from Google on changes to Adwords, a humorous take on beating your competitors, and some good old strategizing to help you manage your PPC accounts. Have at it!

Matt Van Wagner over at Search Engine Land starts us off with a thoughtful and funny look at how to stay ahead of your hungriest PPC competitors. He gives us the low down on short term advantages (don’t count on them to last), the difference between tactical changes (that is, day to day fiddling) and strategic improvements, and why having a better process is truly crucial to beating the competition.

Next, PPC Hero reports on some official Google news: the position preference feature is getting axed early next month, which should be enough time for you to switch to a different feature. (Or you could try ClickSweeper’s rank based bidding, which doesn’t have the weird disappearing ads thing that you might have seen with position preference.)

Our friend and PPC champion Tom Demers has a new article out at the Wordstream blog on changes to Google’s campaign experiments, how they make it easier to run tests, and the one thing to watch out for (thoughtfully highlighted in bold). Wise words of caution, Tom.

And finally, from The PPC Blog, a thoughtful overview of the concepts that underpin PPC strategy. Peter D. hones in on what state of mind your visitor is coming from, and how you can accommodate that state to make a sale. Much of it will be familiar if you’ve been doing PPC, but it might just offer the reminders you need to spring clean your campaigns.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next week with more of the best new PPC articles we’ve spotted. Until then, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, or get a free trial of our award winning PPC management software.

Posted by James Lee on 1st April 2011

PPC Weekly Roundup 4/1

We figured that you’re probably already tired of lame April Fool’s Day jokes by now, so no jokes, just a great lineup of the freshest and hottest PPC news in the industry. Big changes lie ahead for all of us — thanks for keeping us on our toes, Google! Whatever else it is, the world of PPC is never boring. Read on for the best PPC management articles we spotted this week.

We can always count on Tom Demers to come up with cutting edge PPC articles. This one, over at the Wordstream blog, is on seller star ratings and how reviews impact your Adwords account. As search and even ads become more social (more on this in a sec), understanding new ad options and making good decisions about whether to adopt them will be crucial for PPC advertisers. Thanks, Tom!

Next, from Bethany Bey at PPC Hero, an informative post on how to pass MSN’s adExcellence exam. Good news: it’s not as bad as the Google exam (phew!) and focuses on basics and general best practices. But you’ll still want to spend some time studying for it. With a 96% score under her belt, Bethany gives us the scoop on the exam, how to study for it, and why we should take it.

After you’re finished with that, you might want to move on to a really useful step-by-step article about how to test low volume ad copy over at the Certified Knowledge blog. Brad Geddes (you might know him from his excellent Search Engine Land articles) offers us a video that addresses a problem all of us have faced: how to test low volume ad copy. Testing is essential, but how can we do it when we don’t have much search volume? Check out Brad’s detailed tutorial.

And finally, the big news from Google: searchers will now be able to +1 (i.e. ‘like’) ads, pages, sites, products, etc.) they like and recommend them to their contacts. Whoa. That’s big. We’re not totally sure how this is going to affect your ad performance yet, but we’re about to find out. The PPC community is already concerned about ‘gaming’ the system. We’d like to see how the dice fall and then use the opt out option if we need to. What are your thoughts on the new +1 feature?

That just about wraps it up for this week. Don’t forget to sign up for your free trial of ClickSweeper PPC management software — why work harder than you have to for PPC success?

if; ?>