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How To Grow PPC Revenue Without Tanking ROI
Columnist Amanda West-Bookwalter shares her tips for improving paid search campaigns while keeping ROI steady.
Growing a company’s revenue with a good ROI is basically the goal for every marketing venture. The method and strategies vary from case to case, but mostly they all boil down to an effort to increase profits. It’s important that as digital advertisers, we align ourselves with that end goal in our own efforts.
As most of my work in pay-per-click advertising is with direct-response campaigns, it’s normally pretty easy to measure costs versus profits.
What’s not pretty easy, however, is the never-ending struggle to be consistently improving results by growing revenue while keeping ROI at or above goals. This is especially true after managing an account for a long period of time.
However, there are many ways to get creative and improve results with the amount of data and optimizations available to us. Today, I’m going to share three of these ways I’ve developed to keep revenue growth up and to the right while at least keeping ROI steady.
Strategic Position Targeting
It’s easy to think that targeting higher ad positions will lead to higher revenue, as it will likely increase exposure. However, this is not always the case, and certainly runs a risk of tanking ROI since conversion rates can plummet with higher ad positions.
Performance will vary according to a wide range of factors like what type of user your ads are targeting. For instance, some types of users will click the first ad without even reading it.
The best way to know what ad positions your bids should be targeting is by analyzing your results.
I pulled a keyword report for the last 30 days, making sure to include revenue data. Hopefully if you’re running an e-commerce account, this is imported into AdWords, but available through other reporting systems otherwise.
In the case of the latter, you can match up the impression and average position data with your revenue data from another source. It will take some Frankensteining, but you can do it!
I will also throw in a piece of advice that you should not included branded terms, as they will always perform great and have high average positions.
Then, you can create a pivot table to review average positions according to revenue and impressions. Then, use calculated fields to determine what % the revenue is for each avg. position, what % of impressions went to each position, and then the RPM (revenue per one thousand impressions). Calculate it like this: (revenue/impressions) * 1000.
This is an example from one of our accounts. You can see that the highest RPM actually comes from the 3.6+ positions. While it can be difficult to garner impression volume at those positions, I can see from this data that targeting these positions will be the most profitable in terms of ROI.
This is valuable to have, because now I can take keywords that aren’t reaching ROI goals at higher positions and lower them drastically instead of pausing or deleting them.
Aside from the low position performance, the second highest RPM comes from positions 1-1.5, which means higher positions, which garner the most traffic, will likely be profitable for this account.
It’s likely that this account includes a lot of very specific and long tail keywords with results like this, which brings me to my second strategy for increasing revenue without tanking ROI:
Strategic Keyword Length Targeting
Keyword length, or the number of words in a keyword, often indicate how broad or general a keyword is, where in your sales funnel the keyword is targeting, and how much impression volume you’re likely to get.
The general idea is that the shorter the keywords, or the fewer words in the keyword, then the more broad and general, the more impression volume it will gain, and the higher in your sales funnel the keyword is targeting. Of course, the opposite would be true for longer keywords with more words in them.
By that thought, similar to ad positioning, it’d be a decent guess that the shorter the keyword, the more revenue you’d be able to generate due to the higher impression volume.
However, again, ROI is a concern when keywords get too broad or general. There are strategies to make more broad and general keywords work, like remarketing lists for search ads.
However, I want to look at how these various keyword lengths affect results, and how one could become more strategic with their keyword length targeting to improve results.
Similarly to ad positioning, I created a pivot table with that same keyword report, which had branded keywords removed.
Before doing that, I used an Excel formula to count the number of words in each keyword in a column next to the keywords. I labeled that “keyword count”, copied and then used paste special to paste the values, and then created my pivot table.
You can see that the highest RPM and revenue has come from keyword phrases of 4 words. That is a very middle-to-end of the funnel type of keyword. It’s specific without getting way too focused.
The 6 to 7 word keywords are so specific they barely get any impressions, and while 5 word keywords have a good RPM, they have trouble gaining impressions there, as well.
This data aligns with what we saw in the ad position targeting; the fact that this account gains most of its revenue from these 4 word keywords shows us this account sees the most success leveraging these middle-to-end of funnel keywords in high average positions.
However, since we previously saw there was a great RPM for keywords with super-low average positions, based on this keyword length data, it would likely benefit the account to decrease the average position on the keywords with only two words.
By analyzing and being strategic in keyword length and ad position targeting, this account could increase revenue within ROI goals by ensuring middle-to-end of funnel keywords are always targeting high positions and very general or low-RPM keywords are targeting low average positions.
Optimizing Mobile Ads
One of the most talked-about areas of PPC, at least by every Google rep I’ve ever had, is mobile advertising.
There’s no way to deny the crazy growth in the smartphone market, and how quickly we’re seeing searches go mobile. Every graph those Google reps have shown me have been pretty impressive and convincing.
However, even when looking over accounts from some of the best PPC managers, I often see mobile ads that aren’t really optimized. This often leads to PPC managers saying mobile doesn’t work for their client, or at least that it performs poorly.
However, there are a lot of ways to optimize mobile ads and get a chunk of that crazy market growth while staying in ROI goals.
One of these ways is making sure you have specific mobile ads targeted. My fellow columnist Sam Owen wrote an article about how simply doing this small procedure of creating specific mobile ad copy increased his CTR for mobile by 19%.
Another reason to create specific mobile ads is the new changes to mobile ad copy. Google announced that starting October 15th of this year, there’s a chance that the second description line on your ads will be shaved off in favor of additional ad extensions when they’re served to mobile devices. This determination will be made in consideration with the ad’s expected CTR, as predicted by Google.
This means that having the same ads for mobile and desktop are not only inherently hurting your mobile performance, but it’s also likely your desktop-optimized ads aren’t even showing correctly. You could have a huge opportunity to increase your account growth by taking the small-time commitment to make specific mobile ads.
With all of the nooks and crannies to PPC accounts, there’s lot of ways analysis and strategic implementation of analysis results can help you improve revenue within ROI restrictions. I’ve only covered three of them, but hopefully they’ve got your wheels turning and you’ll begin brainstorming even more.
I’d love to hear about any that have worked well for you in the comments section!
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.