Pay Per Click Track: Pump Up Those Conversions!

Welcome back from lunch, good people. As always, SMX laid out a great spread with food fit for kings and… okay, you got me. I totally just ate popcorn. And I’m going to get more tomorrow. And possibly between sessions.   But enough about my butter and salt addiction, we’ve got conversions to talk about.

Our moderator this session is Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land, assisted by Q&A moderator Duane Forrester, Senior Program Manager SEO, Microsoft.

Conversions panel

The speakers are:

Scott Brinker, President & CTO, ion interactive, inc. (@chiefmartec)
Christine Churchill, President, (@keyrelevance)
Vic Drabicky, Director of International and Vertical Market Development, Range Online Media (@vicdrabicky)
Scott Miller, CEO, (@optimizeit)

Christine Churchill is up first. She’s talking about linking analytics with AdWords. You should link your Google Analytics and AdWords account, which will provide you additional reports that can provide critical insights to allow fine tuning of your PPC campaigns. It also helps you define custom reports.

Paying attention to your analytics helps you determine which position is really the best for your ad. Once you’ve linked your account, you’re able to see which position your ad was in when it was clicked on (KW Position Report). Make sure that you have a big enough sample size in order to ensure that you’ve got enough data. At least 100 clicks.

use keyword position report

Once you know which position is the best, you can put in position preference. This is enabled at the campaign level. Put it in as a range, rather than a specific locked in position. Do it on your prime or core keywords instead of trying to do it for every single keyword in your account. This is a CPC not a CPA tactic.

Google Analytics allows you to do advanced segments. It’s an easy way to identify and better understand your best converting visitors.

“If you want to find actionable insights you need to segment your web analytics data.” — Avinash Kaushik

Refine by cities, regions, languages. Population based on type of ads (or exclusions). By first time vs. repeat visitors. Segment by where they came from.

Sample question: Is early morning PPC worthwhile? To find the answer, check the behavior of visitors in the early morning, from 2-5 in the morning. They set up the segment and discovered that those visitors converted at 15% instead of the average 10%.

Use custom reports for analysis:

use custom reports for analysis slide

You can set up reports and look back in time, not just forward. Very good for determining past events. You can also combine custom reports with your advanced segments, which is like analytics on steroids.

In summary, AdWords provides lots of tools and reports for optimizing PPC conversion performance.

Vic Drabicky is the next up. He acknowledges that it’s after lunch and thus we’re all sleepy. Hee.

You can look at optimization two ways: pre-visit optimization and post-visit optimization. He’s focusing mostly on pre-visit optimization.

It’s not about getting every click, it’s about getting every profitable click.

Define a “conversion” and its value before optimizing. It’s not just making a sale. Neiman Marcus has 10 different conversion points on every single page of their site, not just buying something.

  1. You need to determine what brings value to your business and prioritize these things.
  2. Analyze the revenue each conversion point drives: immediate value, residual value, lifetime value, incremental value, other marketing channel value.
  3. Apply the values to your existing marketing campaigns.
  4. Educate your internal teams on the value of multiple conversion points.

Your conversion problem might not your conversion; it might be your marketing. He did a search for [men j. crew] and got an ad that looked appropriate. When he clicked on it, it brought him to a page with children’s clothing and no reinforcement of the offer. He clicked back and found a different ad that did take him to a men’s clothing page, doubling the marketing cost.

j. crew slide

What did J. Crew do wrong?

They made assumptions about the customer:

  • price motivated
  • looking for summer items
  • have kids/need to learn of crewcuts

But the assumptions as a customer were:

  • discount on men’s clothing
  • don’t have men’s clothing?

Fixing your marketing is easier than changing your site. Conversion rate starts with the click, we only want the profitable clicks.

  • Evaluate your marketing foundation honestly
  • Have others evaluate your marketing honestly
  • Allow for but understand the effects of different goals

The conversion process is not linear, organized or simple. It’s not just Search -> Click -> Convert.

It’s this:
non-linear conversion process

Track customer paths to conversion.

Find marketing/site bottlenecks and eliminate them, expand upon successes.

Broaden your data horizons and let the data guide. Expand the number of conversions you report on. Add bounce rate as an evaluation metric. Optimize on conversion paths.

Key points:

  • Not every click, just the profitable ones
  • Define multiuple conversion point and values
  • Eliminate marketing as a cause of low conversion rate
  • Expand data collection

Scott Brinker is up next. He wants to know if you’re READY (relevant, engaging, authoritative, directional, yield optimal). Also his slide has a picture of a rocket, for some reason. I think it’s a Saturn 5.

READY checklist


  • If you make a promise, keep it — always.
  • Crucial to trust
  • Prices, discounts, fulfillment pieces, and special offers
  • Message match: continuity, specific focus, echo the same language, reinforce key ideas.
  • Design match: Ad design should match page design
  • Audience identity: “This is for me.” Speak in their vernacular, call them by name. Visitors should identify with the content.
  • Timely: Everything is up-to-date. Fresh, not stale look.


  • Compelling value proposition: be good, be great. Find a unique selling proposition
  • Emotional appeal: reach visitors on an emotional level. Feed the right brain. tell a great story, set the
  • mood with design and imagery
  • Rational justification: feed the left brain, quantify values. Charts and bullets
  • Affective design: Be the “iPod” landing page
  • Differentiated: represent your unique brand, be authentic


  • Assurances: soothe anxieties, set expectations, include trustmarks
  • Accurate and Concrete: concrete details make it real, accuracy matters, levels of depth. Avoid vague claims
  • Social Norms: Privacy policy, stage appropriate, reasonable form questions, cultural norms
  • Social proof: Choose us, you’re in good company. Awards, logos, testimonials
  • Brand consistency: Brand = trust


  • Call to Action: what do you want visitors to do?, is it reasonable?
  • Frictionless Choices: Help people quickly
  • Minimal distractions: Maintain forward momentum, in-page exploration
  • Motivation and incentives: why you, why now? extra nudge to action. don’t overdo it
  • Progress conversion: tends to be a path, not a page, romance pages, micro-conversions, build commitment

Yield Optimal:

  • Hypothesis: As a meaningful question
  • TEST: A/B and multivariate, if you’re not testing you’re wasting opportunities.
  • Tracking and segmentation: responsiveness
  • SEO: Consciously decide your SEO strategy, keyword tactics, link sculpting, follow/nofollow
  • Downstream READY: make sure that your handoffs are smooth, don’t lose the event.

(Holy God, that was fast. I had to leave out an immense amount of his presentation because he went so quickly. [whimper] His whole presentation is on Slideshare

Scott Miller is up next and I may or may not make it through this.

He tells a quick story about a professor he had who had a theory that British accents made you seem smarter and got more respect. So he taught the class with a British accent.

Recently they had a client who tested British vs American accents in their video. More people watched the video with the American accent all the way through.

WISTIA slide

You should always test alternate videos. Use a conversion proxy if you don’t have enough traffic.

Landing pages are only the 50 yard link of conversion for many sites. Don’t be afraid to go deep.

7 Cs slide

Going deep is sitewide optimization, checkout flow testing, credibility enhancement, change design/CSS, repeat/reinforce search ad or landing page offer, maximizing event yield.

For example: is the security seal worth the money? They tested a real company versus a mock logo versus none at all. The brand name seal worked the best, the no seal was better than making up their own seal.

People will share more information when they feel safe. Make sure you’re cognizant of experimental noise.

(He goes through another case study about simplifying design. Decluttering = good.)

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

See Susan's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (2)
Filed under: PPC/Pay-Per-Click
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent PPC/Pay-Per-Click posts is better than the last!

2 Replies to “Pay Per Click Track: Pump Up Those Conversions!”

Hi Susan! Thanks for recapping the Pump Up Those Conversions session (complete with pics for those of us unable to attend)! Another thanks for typing out the important points of Scott’s speedy delivery of the READY framework! :)

Susan Esparza


I’m glad you found the liveblog useful. I always feel bad when I’m trying to keep up with someone fast. I miss so much good information!


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