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May 23, 2011

Click Here: Effective PPC with Joe Kerschbaum of Clix Marketing

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Co-author of “Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing: An Hour a Day” and client services director for Clix Marketing, Joseph Kerschbaum joins us today as the final interview in our “Conference Mondays” series leading up to SMX Advanced in Seattle.

Today, Joe addresses some common pay per click issues like tips for refining keywords and ad copy, some of the channels outside of Google worth investing in, assessing performance against competitors, new networks worth exploring such as mobile, and the impact (or lack of) endorsement-type buttons on paid ads, such as the Facebook “Like” and Google +1.

If you’re headed to SMX Advanced, catch Joe speaking on “Quality Score: The Unwritten Manual for Google AdWords & Bing adCenter” at 9 a.m. on June 7.

Jessica: Do you have any best practices for refining keywords?

Joseph Kerschbaum

Joe: Keep in mind, keywords don’t often fail us; rather, we fail our keywords. With this statement, I am referring to keywords that have a fair amount of volume, but perhaps aren’t meeting your campaign’s KPIs.

If a term is driving traffic but not converting, rather than remove that keyword completely, what can you do to take better advantage of those impressions?

First thing you can do is segregate your keywords into performance tiers. Your keywords should break down into level such as these: the terms that do great; the terms that do well; and the terms that underperform with a high CPA or low ROI.

Your optimization and refinement strategy should differ for each keyword tier. Of course, you need to continuously optimize your best performing keywords by testing ads, adjusting bids and implementing negative keywords – but I would bet the largest opportunity for growth and expansion resides in the terms that possess a great deal of traffic, but conversion rates tend to be low.

With regards to keyword refinement, this is where PPC managers should focus their efforts. For those keywords with a great amount of impression volume but poor ROI, you can implement a few strategies to improve performance:

  • Aggressive negative keyword expansion: You may find broad match terms (including modified broad match) appearing for wildly irrelevant search queries.
  • Radical ad text testing: Obviously, what you’re currently doing for these high-volume keywords isn’t working. Switching out one descriptive word for another isn’t going to move the needle very much. You need to try new, radical ideas for your ad texts to see what works with this keyword’s audience.
  • Conversion optimization: Building out the negative keyword list can help tighten your search query focus, and new ad texts can set qualify your clicks, but to make these keywords successful, you should conduct a series of conversion optimization tests. After all, it’s probably the conversion rate/CPA/ROI that forces these keywords into this crisis in the first place.

How do you identify research-type keywords versus purchase-type keywords?

There are a few obvious indicators that can help you determine the purchase-intent of a keyword. For example, search queries that include these words/phrases aren’t looking to purchase right now, or they’re doing comparison shopping/research:

  • Reviews
  • Info/Information
  • Cheap
  • Coupons
  • Deals

Shorter search queries are further away from a clear purchase intent, so these should be monitored closely. For example, someone who searches for “Windows 7 compatible recording software” is much closer to their final search query destination than someone who searches for “recording software.”

Also, you should play close attention to your keyword performance. Keywords that are converting below average may be closer to the beginning of the buying cycle than you originally thought.

How often should ad copy be refreshed?

Very frequently. Ad tests (image and text) should be an ongoing process and monitored closely.

When there is enough data to make a statistically valid decision, you should determine the testing outcome, pause the losing variation and determine your next test right away.

To understand if you have a large enough sample size, you can simply use a free tool like SplitTester.com.

Also, to properly conduct ad split tests in Google AdWords, it’s critical that your ads are set to “Rotate” within your AdWords campaign settings.

What are the most critical components of ad copy for greater conversion rate?

This is a difficult question because I don’t blindly adhere to “best practices” when it comes to anything. Strategies for successful ad copy will differ greatly from client to client.

The best way for someone to determine the most critical ad copy components is to think about your audience and test everything.

However, here are a few general rules that improve click-through rate and conversion rate:

  • Be relevant: Make sure to display the user’s search query in your ad.
  • Highlight benefits, not features: Don’t focus on the details of your service/product; focus on how your service/product will make your audience feel or how it will make their life better.
  • Display a call-to-action: Go ahead and tell the user what you expect them to do before they even get to your landing page. For example, if you have a free trial, you should say, “Get a free trial.” Or if you expect people to purchase directly, your call-to-action should be, “Buy now.”

Outside of investing in Google PPC, what’s your take on investment elsewhere in places like Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn?

We’ve had great success in other PPC channels such as Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are a couple reasons why advertisers should explore these avenues:

  1. Diversity in your PPC: You shouldn’t have all your PPC eggs in one Google basket. If your PPC program lives or dies by Google AdWords, you’re very vulnerable. You need spread out your spend to other channels.
  2. Growth opportunities: Bing continues to gain market share. Volume on Facebook and LinkedIn continues to increase.

The performance within adCenter has been very positive for our clients so far this year.

Many advertisers used to ignore adCenter because the volume was so low. But this is no longer the case (or at least it shouldn’t be).

For a while, advertisers weren’t sure what to make of Facebook or how to generate a positive ROI. However, over the past year, we’ve learned how to engage with Facebook users in order to generate value.

Is PPC in the mobile network worth the investment?

Absolutely. We’ve had great success on the mobile network.

For best results, we suggest sending users to a mobile-optimized website. Also, we’ve found that click-to-call ads through Google AdWords work very well.

You can set up click-to-call ads within the Extensions tab of the AdWords interface. If you launch click-to-call ads, we also suggest enabling the Call Metrics feature. This way, you can track the number of calls generated from your AdWords ads.

Also, we highly suggest that advertisers track sales from Google AdWords calls. To do this, most of our campaigns are set up with unique phone numbers in order to track sales.

Why is Quality Score important and how can it be improved?

Quality Score in Google AdWords is important because it directly impacts your PPC performance. Quality Score influences your ad rank and your cost-per-click.

We could conduct a whole series of interviews on improving Quality Score. However, advertisers should adhere to one golden rule: enhance your relevance.

Make sure your ad groups are small, with tightly themed keywords; make sure your ads highlight your core keywords; and make sure that your landing pages display your most important keyword themes.

Implementing these tactics will help improve your click-through rate, and this will help improve your Quality Score.

If the Google +1 is added to paid search ads, how do you think it could impact ad servings, Quality Score and other important factors?

Honestly, I’m not sure how the +1 feature will impact ads. I could provide a series of speculations, but I think it’s too early to make any bold statements about this new feature.

If Facebook is any indication, +1 may not have much of an impact. I haven’t seen many Facebook users “liking” paid ads.

For Google, I can foresee users “liking” organic results more than advertisements. But we’ll see how this progresses.

What’s a good way to measure performance against competitors within a competitive set?

I think of PPC as a game of golf, rather than tennis. You are not lobbing a ball back and forth with your competitors. Rather, like golf, the best way to win the game is to improve your own performance.

I think PPC managers can make the most of their time by focusing on their own PPC campaigns, rather than stalking their competitors.

This doesn’t mean that advertisers should never review their competitor’s PPC ads or landing pages, but this means that they should focus on their own keyword performance and improve their own ROI.

About Joseph Kerschbaum
Joining the SEM industry in 2006, Joseph Kerschbaum has expertise in PPC advertising, search engine optimization, conversion optimization and social media marketing. Prior to his current role as client services director for Clix Marketing, Joseph was a senior search marketing consultant for Hanapin Marketing. Before that, he served as promotional services manager with AuthorHouse. Joseph is co-author of the book “Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing: An Hour a Day,” and contributes to various Internet marketing blogs and journals. And Joseph doesn’t just write about the SEM industry; he’s also a published poet. You can follow his creative exploits at ThirstyOcean.com. You can contact Joe on Twitter @JoeKerschbaum.

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