In an ideal world you’d have so much money to throw at online advertising that you could just wait to see what works and then fix it. But here in the real world we need to start with best practices and expand with success. So I’ve put together a small list of the mistakes I’ve made and have seen others make over and over again.
5 Common Pay-Per-Click Mistakes to Avoid
- Mistake #1 – Too large of a scope
Within the two major ad networks, you get to choose to display your ads on the primary search network or extend it to context sensitive ads on other sites. While it’s alluring to reach out to a larger audience remember that for most sites the primary search network provides the best and most cost effective results. So, by spreading your budget out you will get less impact and you will typically weaken your ROI.
- Mistake #2 – Too broad of a phrase
When you’re working in an industry, you start to think that your key terms could only apply to you. However, even terms like “appliances” could refer you a lot of dental related traffic to your home goods store and waste untold dollars in click waste and lost traffic. So, start by adding a qualifying word to all of your keywords. In this example, only buy clicks for “kitchen appliances” and, until your budget expands, use keyword and phrase matching only.
- Mistake #3 – Targeting the wrong audience
The world is very large place, despite the popular Disney ride jingle that may counter my argument. There are a lot of people who can’t read your site, can’t make use of your product, or can’t have your product shipped to them. So, keep this in mind and set your geographic and language targeting to focus on just those who can.
- Mistake #4 – Forgetting about Quality Score
You researched your keywords, carefully crafted your ads…Now what? Dump those keywords in your homepage, put together a graphic with a pitch and call it a landing page? No, you need to spend as much time and energy putting together a landing page that matches the keywords that you’re buying. Otherwise, your ad will be seen as irrelevant and cost more per click and get shown less often. So be sure to use keyword relevant text instead of images and make a compelling pitch on all your landing pages, even if it is your homepage.
- Mistake #5 – Follow-up
This is the big one. It’s so easy to create a great campaign and then forget about it. But things change, keyword bids go up and down, popular culture and trends can both benefit and ruin previously unknown keywords, and some things simply work better than others. It’s important to regularly monitor your keywords, bids, and ROI. This takes a lot of time. We built SiteWit because campaign management is laborious to do right. There are lots of spreadsheets and calculations to adjust bids, maximize ROI, and find the gold in your campaign. So frankly you’re better off letting our giant brain keep track of your campaigns while you focus on building your business.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that while there is never an excuse to make mistakes 3, 4, or 5, there is a time and place for expanding your ad scope and casting a larger keyword net. How will you know when that time comes? The best indicator is when you can no longer spend your monthly budget. When this happens you need to start expanding your reach with great oversight, even if it means harvesting a few more weeds with the wheat.
We have always been taught that we should learn from our mistakes. Those lessons usually serve us well. Unfortunately, when doing PPC, mistakes can be expensive. Below are 5 common mistakes that anyone doing PPC should avoid.
- Having Over-inflated expectations
- Not having a PPC strategy
- Not using ad groups properly
- Focusing too much on the most popular keywords
- Spending your day managing keywords and bids
Let’s be real. PPC success requires a combination of good PPC research, messaging and a great landing page. Yes, it may work better than direct mail or the yellow pages but there are no guarantees. Don’t expect clicks to cost a nickel and don’t expect unrealistic conversion rates.
PPC is not the panacea of advertising and like any other marketing effort, you should have a plan with reasonable and measurable goals.
Ad groups link related keywords with related ad copy and a related landing pages. Putting keywords that don’t match the ad copy and landing page will waste money fast.
Popular keywords cost more money. If your budget is limited, focus on keywords with 3 or 4 words that will get you more qualified traffic and cost less money.
Changing bids a few cents up or down every day is great if you have tons of time with nothing else to do. It’s more important to know what people are doing after clicking on your ad so you know which keywords are working and which ones aren’t.
Managing PPC campaigns is not difficult, but managing them well is another story. Avoiding these 5 common mistakes will save you time and money in the long run and make your PPC success more likely.
Sitewit is more than just PPC Management
If I were to ask you what sort of business SiteWit was in and you said Pay-Per-Click management, you’d be close but not quite right. SiteWit is an analytics company first and foremost. Even our most basic small business solutions, which focus only on advertising and not click tracking, benefit from our data intensive analysis of bidding and keywords. But our click and goal tracking solutions are truly analytical marvels. Sure, it allows us to optimize your campaigns return on investment across several different vectors, but it doesn’t end there.
SiteWit Enterprise offers the ability to pass an identifier to our tracking script. Not every website uses identifiers but you’d be surprised at how many do, perhaps even yours. If your site has a login system, then you’re all set. But any site with a contact or checkout form that requests an email address could also use that information to assign an identifier to the current user. You may be wondering, “But what happens when a visitor comes back later and doesn’t login or they clear their cookies?” The technical answer is quite long and complicated, but the short answer is SiteWit uses a number of clues we call “Fingerprints” to figure out who the visitor most likely is. This stickiness will let us attribute behavior to users across sessions and even machines.
To implement this, you simply need to let us know who the user is as soon as you know who they are. You do this by adding one line of code to your tracking script. You will likely need to add this from the server side once you have an I.D. If you or your developers need help, please feel free to contact us. Here is what the tracking code should look like:
SiteWit uses behavioral and predictive analytics to constantly score and predict a user’s likeliness to complete a particular goal. For each goal, our models divides users up in groups called: Loyal (those who completed the goal as expected), Prospects (those we expect[ed] to complete the goal), One-hit-wonders (those who defied the prediction and completed anyways), and Zombies (those who show no promise of completing the goal). Please take the time and read more about our prediction groupings.
Once you have some data you can use our visitor reports to find out which actual users are likely to complete another (or the same) goal. From the Visitors —> Reports section of SiteWit for Enterprise, you’ll see the report shown below:
- A. First select the goal you want to report on.
- B. Select if you want to see those who did complete the goal by setting the segment to Loyal, One-Hit-Wonder or Prospects (those who are likely to complete it in the future)
- C. This shows those leads with the ID you assigned them, as well as vital visiting statistics.
- D. If you weren’t able to assign the user an ID, they still show up but with a unique identifier that we assign to them.
We feel Prospects have the most value since you most likely already know who completed the goal, but are probably in the dark as to who are your highest potential leads.
This is just the beginning. Now you may want to start setting up goals that don’t directly impact ROI, such as “Support.” For example, you could set up a goal on a support form and our system can learn what behaviors led to that goal. You can then use the goal prediction engine to identify potentially frustrated customers who are looking for answers but have yet to reach out. Here’s a suggestion: When you contact goal prospects, try to avoid the “creep factor” by implying that you know their behavior or intent. Instead, keep these kind of contacts non-personal when offering a tip-over-into-conversion promotional offer or targeted tip-over. That way, they are viewed as serendipitous surprises rather than uninvited medaling.
We look forward to hearing what you do with this powerful tool. Feel free to leave your results in the comments below.
Free tools that help designers and developers be more awesome at life in general.
Every web designer or web developer needs to cultivate a set of tools and skill-sets that enables them to work effectively and efficiently. In this post we’re going to introduce a set of free tools and web resources that should be included every web guy’s tool box.
960 Grid System
Download Resource: www.960.gs
There is some debate whether to begin a web design in Photoshop or just dive right into coding your mark-up. There is nothing wrong either way. For most it’s a matter of preference. I choose to start my designs in Illustrator or Photoshop utilizing the 960 Grid System. “The 960 Grid System is an effort to streamline web development work flow by providing commonly used dimensions, based on a width of 960 pixels.” – 960.gs website. This is a fantastic tool that allows you to keep your content spaced nicely and help achieve a more cohesive design across multiple pages. Head on over to 960.gs for the download and check out TheGridSystem.org for more information pertaining to grid design.
IAB Banner Template
Designers are often asked to create a web banner of different sizes for many different reasons. I’ve created a Photoshop template that houses the most common IAB banners sizes allowing the designer to create and manage their many different banners in a single Photoshop document. This was created in-house and is FREE for the world to share, edit and redistribute.
When you open the document you’ll see the standard IAB banner sizes. Every banner size is nicely layered and contains four different folders F1, F2, F3, and Stat. The first three are meant for animated banners. Frame 1 design, frame 2 design, and frame 3 design. The “Stat” folder is where a static design goes. This allows a designer to print out and critique each frame of an animated banner.
Creative Campaign Template
Enterprise designers are often asked to create marketing creatives and concepts that include landing pages, HTML emails, and banners. This template allows you to work on all three at the same time. This can help speed up the production time by working in the same document and allowing you to make sure your message is consistent across the marketing pieces.
That’s three things to add to your toolbox this month. So now, when your boss gets excited because of all the cheddar you’ve saved on your projects and asks, “However can I thank you Mr. Designer?” You can say, “Tell the PPC guys to quit blowing their budgets on software that doesn’t work, they need to get with SiteWit!” …Cheap plug -sorry.
Quality Score and Your PPC Campaign
I just got off the phone with “John” from a small Internet marketing company looking for an easy way to improve the Adwords quality score for his SMB PPC marketing clients. He said his keywords were grouped properly and his ads were well structured, so he wanted to focus on improving the landing page relevance hoping it would get the keyword quality scores up to 7 or so.
I did not talk to John for long but he got me thinking about how much control PPC managers actually have over improving specific keyword quality scores and more importantly, how much time should be dedicated to it versus other activities like bid management and conversion optimization.
Google Identifies Three Major Factors That Affect PPC Quality Score:
- Click through Rate (CTR)
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
It is generally accepted that CTR trumps the other two factors. If this is the case, should you try to improve specific keyword quality scores and if so, at what point does it become an inefficient use of your time?
If your quality score is below a 6, you should probably review that keyword to see if it is grouped properly or if it should be paused all together. Otherwise, trying to get your keyword quality score from a 6 to a 7 can be a frustrating and expensive endeavor. If your keyword quality score is above a 6, I recommend spending your time doing more profitable activities such as keyword bidding, optimizing your campaign settings to get more conversions, and/or getting out from behind your screen and meeting customers in order to sell more services/products.
SiteWit Can Help Improve Your Keywords’ Quality Scores
If you are a SiteWit customer, you know that keyword bidding and campaign optimization is done for you automatically, freeing up your time to be spent on more profitable activities. Of course SiteWit also reviews quality scores and makes recommendations for you but more importantly, our Pay Per Click Management software focuses on improving the performance of keywords that produce clicks. It helps you create more relevant ad copy to improve CTR and optimizes your campaign which, over time, will improve the quality scores of those keywords that actually produce.
There is no such thing as Free SEO
Conventional wisdom holds that SEO generates free money once your listed high enough to be seen on the first page of a search engine for your keyword. And while there’s no doubt there is value in showing up organically in the results, it’s far from free money.
Top 5 Reasons SEO isn’t Free
- Building good SEO takes time and money. SEO strategies typically focus on keyword optimization and link building. Both of these require a lot of man hours and expertise to produce, so you will either spend money on professionals or find yourself focusing on your website more than your business.
- Results are never guaranteed. Unlike Pay Per Click (PPC) where you exchange a relatively known amount in exchange for an event or action, SEO has no guarantees. There are many cases where sites have been punished by being too zealous with their optimizations or by being affiliated with those who have.
- Your competitors can do it too. It’s true that basic SEO doesn’t require a huge investment. In a local and/or niche market you can write your way to good results with good titles, links and content alone. The problem is a future competitor can simply follow these same practices and do just as well, and without consistent monitoring, the day the phone stops ringing may catch you by surprise. By keeping a PPC campaign you can guarantee that you’ll be on the first page even if your natural result drops down. Plus with a position based bid management tool like that found in SiteWit, staying on page one is even easier.
- You can only focus on so many keywords. A good SEO formula requires a certain density of a given keyword per page. The problem is the formula also restricts the number of keyword variations. Sure you can build more specialty pages dedicated to more keywords, but those pages which are often difficult to read will be the landing page for those search terms. Plus, you need to spend a lot of labor building each page, with PPC you can add as many keywords you’d like simply and without effort.
- Search results are now personalized. So you made it to page one every time you search for “Widgets in Kalamazoo”… Are you sure you’re really on the first page? Google (as well as many other search engines now and to follow) personalize your results based on your previous behavior and demographics they know about you. So if your customer, unlike yourself, never clicked on your link before or lives in a neighboring community may not even see you in the search results for the same keywords.
SEO is still awesome. We prefer PPC, but we might be biased.
I’m not knocking SEO, you often get back what you put into it, but there are a lot of bumps and holes to fall into on the journey. Having a PPC campaign at the very least is like good insurance, it takes care of the unexpected SEO obstacles. And at the very best, with the right help and tools, PPC is a predictable tool for generating revenues.
What do you think? Would you agree that SEO is not free? Let us know what you think!
They say that patience is a virtue. This is especially true when it comes to PPC campaign management.
How often have you created a new PPC campaign on Friday and waited until Monday before your ads were approved? What about those new ads that your client wanted live yesterday but are waiting on approval as well? Sure, those times can be aggravating but they pale when it comes to the ultimate game of patience: Waiting for enough data to accumulate before modifying your campaign strategy.
Too often people want to change their PPC campaign strategy without giving it enough time to run. I think most PPC managers will agree that this is especially true when customers, other managers and/or other interested parties (who are not responsible for the day to day campaign management) are waiting for “their results”.
When the campaign is new or there has been a shift in strategy, campaigns take time to level out and become stable. The amount of time needed is directly correlated to the complexity of your PPC campaign; this includes the number of ad groups, number of keywords, campaign geography, campaign goals, conversion tracking, landing pages, etc.
I have always understood that there needs to be enough data to analyze before changing course and I’ve always tried to set that expectation with clients. SiteWit is no different. Although SiteWit’s PPC Automated Bidding starts within 24 hours of purchase and SiteWit’s Predictive Analytics engine begins monitoring your campaign the moment you decide to optimize with us, we make sure our PPC Management Software clients know that our PPC software requires a minimum amount of data before our algorithms make any campaign recommendations.
So the next time you launch a new PPC campaign or sign up a new customer, be sure to set this expectation. Once you launch the campaign, everyone needs to be patient and wait for enough data to come in before making any strategic decisions about changing your PPC campaigns.
What do you think? Is patience really a virtue when it comes to creating successful pay-per-click campaigns? If not, tell us why.
Goals in SiteWit are assigned an average amount of revenue. In the case of sale leads for example, you would add the total sales generated from a set of leads and divide it by the number of leads that came in during that same period. If you sold a single product per goal then you would enter in the exact amount of revenue you receive from that goal. But many e-commerce systems sell a variety of products at different prices, which could lead to wildly skewed totals in the final sales invoice. So using SiteWit’s detailed transaction object will allow you to know much more precisely the ROI for each of your paid search campaigns, ads, and keywords. For most systems implementing this will require knowledge of you eCommerce system and in most cases server side code.
The following code is a template for recording a transaction’s values with your goal:
You can start with the goal code that is given to you when you create the SiteWit Goal, the [account_id] and [goal_id] will already be filled in as appropriate. From there you will want to use your shopping cart values/variables to replace the following fields in brackets [order_id], [affiliate], [subtotal], [tax], [city], [state], [country]. These are all optional, but the more data the better SiteWit will be at attributing your best clients to the campaigns or referrers that sent them to you. You can also add as many or as few item lines as you’d like, which could serve you in future reporting features.
If you need any assistance in setting up a transactions for you SiteWit goals please call our technical support and we’d be more than happy to help.
We’ve all seen communities that look great but have little to no interaction happening between the members of the site. This can be a little disappointing when looking for an active community to be part of. A site that looks dead may scare away potential users from ever registering. Here are three design patterns that can help boost activity in your community and help promote it’s liveliness.
An activity stream is an aggregated list of activities highlighting a single users actions or a collection of users actions from your contact or “friends” list. Activity streams can promote engagement in your community by keeping users informed as to current happenings. They can show users what actions are possible as well as show you what everyone else is doing. It’s interesting to note that websites like Facebook keep only positive actions in their activity stream. For example you can “like” something but you can not dislike it. Adding a friends is a positive activity show in your stream but removing someone does not because this could be considered a negative action. The best example of an activity stream is the Facebook “News Feed”.
You can reward users for reaching or completing certain goals in the community. These rewards or achievements can be displayed for other users to see. This is great to use when you would like to focus your users attention on parts of your product our service that might not otherwise appeal to them. A great use of achievements are the badges earned in the mobile application, Foursquare. The more you explore and “check-in” to place the more badges you receive. Check out Foursquare to see badges in action.
This is a graphical or numerical driver that pushes the user to complete a desired goal, like completing a form or a filling in the rest of their profile information. Use this when the user wants to complete a goal but needs guidance in when it is reached and how the user might reach it. Another is the feedback loop. As the user completes sub-tasks, his or her progress moves towards 100% . A great example of a completeness meter is seen in the main dashboard of your Linked In profile.
Installing SiteWit analytics script on every page of your site is the first step in measuring your visitor’s origination, behavior, and predictability. The tool becomes even more valuable as you set up values and record goals.
When you use SiteWit’s goal tracking feature you’re given a block of script to put on your goal page that looks like this:
This script works great on most html pages, and it’s self-contained with the tracking codes, so it works even on pages that don’t have the tracking code installed. But there are a few cases where you may not be able to put this block of code directly on the page. The cases are: AJAX calls, as well as iframes, hyperlinks, or form posts to 3rd party pages which cannot have the script installed. So here are some options.
Assuming you already have the tracking script installed on the page, you can simply call sw.set_goal(GOAL_ID); and sw.register_page_view(); with the appropriate goal id at the time of the AJAX call, or better yet at the time of the “on success” callback. Here’s a simple example using jQuery:
What happens though when the goal itself is not in a page you control? A lot of websites use iframes to host third party content and/or features like contact forms. Unfortunately, if the page is on a different domain, then most browsers will try to block cross domain communication. One way to get around this is to count the number of times the iframe has loaded and trigger a goal when it has been loaded x number of times (which is presumably how many clicks it takes to accomplish the goal on the remote site). Here is an example of how to achieve this:
This solution is best of course when there are a known number of page clicks to reach the goal (like in a wizard or form environment), and even then there is no way to tell if the user has gotten a failure message instead of the expected goal success. If the iframe contains a page with several success & failure paths or lots of links and/or post backs then the best option is to contact your vendor and have them install the actual goal script in its entirety at the point that the goal occurs.
Out Bound Hyperlinks
Outbound hyperlinks occur whenever your goal is someone visiting another website, opening a file (e.g. pdf, mp3, etc), or clicking a mailto: link. You will need to have the tracking script already installed on the page. All you need to do is add calls for sw.set_goal(GOAL_ID); and sw.register_page_view(); with the appropriate goal id in the onclick attribute of the hyperlink, like this:
Remember to but a ; between commands, if you have existing code in the onclick, put this code first (like in the example above, before the “return true;”.
If you are using a form that posts to itself and delivers a thank you or confirmation message, you can simply put the standard goal code with that message. As long as the message is not loaded with the initial form, it won’t be run until the form is submitted.
If you are posting to a page that is outside your control, then you will need to record the goal after all the validation has been completed, but before the form is sent off. In the case where your form is validated by calling a function from the onsubmit attribute of the form, the goal code be executed at the point where a the final return value would happen within the form, like so:
If you are using hooking into the event after the fact with something like the popular jQuery Validation plugin by Jörn Zaefferer, it would look something like this:
Hopefully this will give you or your developers some ideas on how to implement the goal code when faced with complicated scenarios. And of course if they ever need help, SiteWit support is waiting for their call.