Not Done Yet: Four Ways To Squeeze Performance Out Of ‘Mature’ Paid Search Accounts
Even if you've tuned and optimized a search advertising account for good performance, there are tactics you can use to drive incremental gains. In this point, I’ll suggest several ways to improve the performance of “mature” PPC accounts.
Let’s say you begin working on a search advertising campaign, and your goal is to improve its performance. You revamp the overall account architecture, tweak keywords and matching options, come up with spiffy and compelling ad copy and revise overall bidding strategy. You launch the revised campaign and the account performance improves dramatically and you feel like an absolute genius. But now what? The account is more mature and you need to implement different tactics to drive incremental gains. In this article, I’ll suggest several ways to improve the performance of “mature” PPC accounts.
New ad copy discoveries aren’t over yet
In mature accounts, you obviously don’t want to disregard experiments (and possibly many of them!) that contributed to the success of your account. Often, in mature accounts, advertisers have hammered out what works in ad copy in terms of features, benefits, unique selling propositions, product or service differentiators, etc. and often have piles of data to back up claims. It makes no sense to throw the baby out with the bath water but it does make sense to make slight modifications to copy and assess if changes have an impact on overall conversions. A good way is to do this is by adding short words to ad copy. Here are some examples of words you can try folding into in ad copy: “online,” “get,” “try,” “buy,” “fast,” “now,” “today,” etc. Words can be incorporated into the body copy of the ad, the headline of the ad or both the body copy and the headline of the ad. Take a look at the following headline examples:
- Headline #1: MP4 Player Online
- Headline #2: Get MP4 Player Fast
- Headline #3: MP4 Player Today
Here’s an example from a test we ran with the words “fast” and “get” into ad copy (one ad contained the word “fast” and the other ad contained the word “get”). Data is from Jan 1 2010 to Jan 31 2010:
Ad Copy #1 (Fast):
- Conversions = 258
- Cost per conversion = $11.17
- Conversion rate = 7.37%
- CTR = 6.34%
- Ad position = 3.1
Ad Copy #2 (Get):
- Conversions = 133
- Cost per conversion = $12.77
- Conversion rate = 6.62%
- CTR = 5.35%
- Ad position = 3.5
Difference between ad copy 1 and ad copy 2:
- Conversions = 94% increase
- Cost per conversion = 13% increase
- Conversion rate = 11% increase
- CTR = 18% increase
- Ad position = 11% increase
A big part of the difference between the two is explained by an increase in CTR. This led not only to more clicks but to a higher ad position and yet another increase in click volume. The end result was a dramatic improvement in profitable volume.
Why do these short additional words sometimes work? In short, the reason boils down to response psychology. As always, your offer competes with others on the page. Some short words are very powerful.
Try new product ideas
It’s always a good idea to sweep accounts to ensure all keyword phrases have been included in the account. Sounds like a simple tip but can be hard to keep up with especially with clients who have large product lines and/or product lines that are constantly being updated or are constantly changing. In one of our accounts, we discovered (through a regular monthly sweep of the account) that one of our client’s main products was being under-advertised as there were too few terms in the account. We added the terms to the account, and here’s the difference we saw:
- Account before: Conversions = 13,295
- Account after: Conversions = 14,800
- Difference between before and after: Conversions = 11% increase
Conduct landing page tests
Time and time again, you’ll hear people say that specific product pages convert better than generic pages. But this “truism” is worth testing as sometimes we’ve found the exact opposite to be the case. Take a look at the following example for a company that sells electronic parts. In this case, people prefer to conduct a search on the site than to be directed to a specific product page:
General search page:
- Conversions = 412
- Cost per conversion = $9.83
- Conversion rate = 8.05%
Specific product page:
- Conversions = 379
- Cost per conversion = $10.46
- Conversion rate = 7.58%
Difference between general and specific pages:
- Conversions = 9% increase
- Cost per conversion = 6% increase
- Conversion rate = 6% increase
The lesson here: Don’t always go with what others say. Be sure to run your own tests and to gauge appropriately what pages are converting best for you.
Use advanced account techniques
Rather than looking at ad tests by ad group, for example, discover account-wide patterns. More data will allow you to move on trends that you can’t see in specific ad groups. Here are a couple of examples from one of our accounts:
- We noticed there were very few buyers for all products from 12 to 4am so we implemented ad scheduling to run ads only during peak hours.
- We noticed that more women than men were shopping for a given product (this product was typically purchased by men). With this insight, we tweaked advertising and geared it more to female buyers.
- Our assessment of the search query reports on broad terms unearthed some specific product numbers that were converting well. As such, we added more terms to the account to capitalize on these opportunities.
It’s rewarding to work on newer accounts, because you may see relatively rapid improvements from a low base. With mature, successful accounts, you need to push yourself a little more to uncover additional areas for improvement. Good luck!