How To Optimize PPC Campaigns For Conversions

While the weak economy continues to eviscerate marketing budgets like a grizzly tearing into salmon, businesses looking for results are increasingly allocating what money is left to online marketing. Leading the charge is paid search, ppc spend is expected to increase by 20% this year.

However, increased spend in paid search is increased competition, driving up the costs of leads and sales. This trend will put a serious damper on ROI without constant attention from a seasoned search marketer managing a ppc campaign. Setting and forgetting is not a ppc strategy that generates results.

One way to beat rising costs is to boost your ppc campaign conversions.
PPC CPA Formula

Optimizing For Conversions

1) Keyword Insertion

Put yourself in a searchers shoes. If you’re searching for “red gift boxes,” which ad would you more likely click?
PPC Ad Keyword Insertion

The winner is the ad that uses the search term in the ad title and copy. In ppc advertising, specificity converts. Also notice the keyword search term is bolded to draw attention. Not only will the first ad benefit from a high click through rate, they’ll also bid less per click. This is because Google knows they’ll make more from an ad with $2 bid, and 5% click through than another ad with a $5 bid and 1% click through.

2) Differentiation

Quantitative statements are crucial to increasing click through rates for ppc ads. Instead of a generic statement like “many red gift boxes” the first ad sets expectations by stating there are “Red Gift Boxes in 8 sizes.” Once again, it’s important to be specific in your ad copy.

3) Destination URL’s

Keyword insertion in the display url of a ppc ad is another way to increase relevance for the searcher, to say I have what you’re looking for. This could be accomplished with a subdomain, or trailing url that redirects to the landing page.
PPC Ad Display URLS

4) Value Propositions

You need to have the right promise that motivates people to buy. To get people to click you should introduce the value proposition in your ad copy, and follow through with those same statements on the landing page.

While Jam Paper does a good job of setting expectations in their ad copy with the No Minimum Order and Same Day Shipping guarantees, these are absent on their landing page. This disconnect could be causing searchers to abandon the landing page.

5) Set Expectations & Follow Through

In some respects the Jam Paper landing page delivers on the ppc ad promise. The landing page shows only red gift boxes, it’s not a generic category page for various colored gift boxes. Another important factor, both the ad title, and page heading contain the dynamically inserted keyword. This combination increases relevance between the ad and page, increasing the chances that the searcher will convert.

However, as I noted previously the value propositions in the ad are conspicuously absent on the landing page. What’s happening is an interruption of the scent trail, which leaves the searchers stranded. At the very least, the Jam Paper landing page should include above the fold text or graphics that reinforce their value propositions that appear in the ppc ad.

Hopefully I’ve illustrated an important idea in this post – that all these techniques are inter-related. Each is crucial, and supports the others in creating high converting ppc ads and landing pages.

Photo credit epublicist

Posted in Paid Search Tagged with: ,
3 comments on “How To Optimize PPC Campaigns For Conversions
  1. Hi Jesse, some nice points.

    I agree that including the keyword in ad titles (and to a letter extent in descriptions) will often improve CTR significantly and lead to lower CPCs through the quality score mechanism. After all, like you said, a high-CTR ad will make Google more money. But although PPC has been around for ages, and spending is expected to increase by 20% this year, as you point out, I’ve found that in general are not currently being tailored to users’ searches. I don’t thing the level of tailoring you gave in your red gift box example is by any way the norm at the moment.

    Display URLs I’ve had mixed results with. One the one hand, including the keyword in the display URL could increase CTR and quality score, on the other hand, it could reduce CTR and conversion rate as ads with longer URLs tend to look less reputable than shorter ones (in my opinion). Seems to work for some sets of keywords, less so for others.

    Completely agree with your last point that expectations should be maintained at all stages of the user journey. Showing a specific ad about red gift boxes then driving users to the homepage may achieve a high CTR but will result in low user engagement and a high bounce rate.

  2. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    You raised raised an interesting point that longer display urls may depress CTR. In particular, if the ad is for an established brand, a longer url, especially the subdomain example, could obscure the fact that the ad links to the legitimate brand website. So I agree, keywords in the display url could be bad for CTR, but it’s definitely a variable worth testing.

    “I don’t thing the level of tailoring you gave in your red gift box example is by any way the norm at the moment.” Definitely not the norm, and a shame too, considering all the information available for running successful ppc campaigns, making it less of a mystery than seo. But good for those companies, and ppc practioners, who get how to make relevant ads and landing pages. Makes it that much easier to stand out!

    Thanks again.

  3. Amazing article. Did you study the related piece within the Huffington Publish a while again? Evidently more and more mainstream media are having to pay attention to this. I hope your web site will get more and more subscribers as this problem will get more protection, because it is a superb useful resource.

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