Re-defining Success with a PPC Brand Awareness Campaign

As an Online Marketing Company, we know the dynamics of an acquisition campaign are fairly simple. You bid on keywords, users click on your ads, and then do one of the following: complete the call to action, become a lead, make a purchase, or move on. Given that, it’s fairly easy to define success and justify the spend, whether it’s click through rates, cost per clicks, cost per leads, or return on ad spend.

However, when you use paid search for branding, rather than Web SEO, things are not so straight forward. Yes, you give users more freedom to interact with your site. However, it comes with a price: inability to track pure conversions. This can be scary territory for most search marketers. That’s why it is so important to redefine your success metrics. Not only will it help you accomplish your objectives and justify the spend, but it can also help eliminate the risk of not getting the campaign off the ground, or getting your budget cut due to either tough economic times or a less-than-convinced boss sceptical about the investment.

Successful branding PPC Campaigns: 6 key steps

1. The first step towards re-defining success is to segment your keywords into different buckets, depending on the intent of the user. To do this, you first need to put yourself in their shoes. Then, based upon the queries they conduct, think about how familiar they are with your brand. You can have several buckets, but in its basic form, you want to divide the keywords into groups of branded and non-branded terms. As you do this, try and assess what action or meaning the words denote. For example, with the non-branded terms, does the query indicate that they are a prime candidate to become a lead or make a purchase, or does it demonstrate that they are too new to the company to be ready to convert yet? You’ll need to take a close look at the branded keyword list as well, only here you’ll want to assess whether they are actively seeking what you have to offer, or if they are simply looking for information about the company or its products or services.

2. Once you have your keywords bucketed, start thinking about what would be important to know about your users. Fortunately, there’s a veritable goldmine of data available at your finger tips. Not only can you tap into data from the engines, but your Web analytics program should provide interesting data as well, and then there’s still more data available — though you may need to do some digging for it.

3. You should also examine what’s going on with your site. And while onsite metrics seem simple on the surface, most companies’ analytics packages are not set up to track these effectively. Given that, here are a few metrics to consider: the clicks your ads receive, page views, the bounce rate, and the percentage of returning visitors as compared with new visitors. In addition, you’ll want to track certain elements of your site that you deem more valuable than others, whether it’s a specific area, or a type of interaction such as downloading a whitepaper or starting a shopping cart. Remember, often the set up for such tracking will take some heavily lifting from your analytics. Also, aim to track each of the above metrics by engine, keywords, and channel. However, don’t mix-up your total site or organic efforts in this new tracking.

4. Next, you should consider looking off-site to track and monitor your competitors’ PPC activity to understand your share of voice for particular keywords or groups of keywords. Doing so will help you understand your brand impression share. Fortunately, there are some offsite metrics that are easy to track and use. For example, impressions and average ad position are two of the most basic, but Google now has a way for you to track loss of impressions.

5. Then there are conversion metrics that you can use to help guide the branding success metrics. For example, if you have an acquisition, add that into the mix, cost per lead, return on ad spend, call tracking, increased sales, or interactions at physical locations. This gives you data about how many times someone may visit the site from the branding campaign before they convert, or the downstream value of a user that does click on certain keywords.

6. Once you’ve decided on the data you want to track, start thinking about the best combination for the different buckets of keywords you have, and the weights you want to assign to each. Remember, no metric should carry equal importance in the overall definition of success. For example, visits to certain sections of the site, or increased pages views might be more important to you than the percentage of returning visitors. Then test. Tracking a PPC branded campaign takes a lot of effort and will require you to test the various combinations and weights in order to get the most out of your budget.

Putting it all together

To make the above work, you need to be creative; try different combinations and weightings of the vast amount of data available to you. And keep in mind that you get to define success metrics here, so it’s up to you to go and be successful.

Overall, a PPC marketer looking to leverage paid search for branding purposes needs to take the time to first redefine success. Not only will it help you accomplish your objectives and justify the spend, it can also help to eliminate risk, and instill the value.

How To Create Ideas That Spread

How to create ideas that spread. How do you do this yourself or do you try some SEO outsourcing? We know, here at SEO Liverpool, the big challenge is coming up with the ideas.

We can look at what’s worked, but many successes don’t tie back to your business. As with all Search Engine Marketing, there are different ways to approach this. The Coke and Mentos case (one of the largest scaling virals) doesn’t get you to consume more of those products.

3 Rules:

1) Thou shall know thy customer – find out what customers are looking for.

2) Thou shall be remarkable – about doing something different from what you’ve done before.

3) Thou shall try, try, again – most efforts don’t take off. Every try improves your chances.

Brainstorming the ideas:

Need to ask – what do customers love about you? In our case, small businesses like us because we have a small business. What do customers not like about you? Whats your biggest challenge? Address a problem like customer service.

What sparks online conversation? You must always be part of the conversation – important to be in the forums and social networks.

Can you do something outrageous like the Coke and Mentos and Will It Blend? Gets the marketing message across. Can you do something funny? Funny sells. Scary also tends to go viral.

Tie into holidays or events like the Olympics. You can find cool charts that show Twitter activity, with spikes. Great, see whats getting people to talk about online.

Can you get the most of something? Biggest this, etc.

What do you want people to say about your company? Can you get people to address this?

Create or embrace controversy? Can be dangerous.

Underdog stories.

Look at your analytics. See what sends people to your site. Not just traffic but engagement. How long are they spending on the site (Anyone involved in web SEO should be doing this!)

What motivates customers? Price? Service?

Look at your capabilities. Look at your budgets and limitations. Can you create and edit videos? Can you create and edit Flash games? Can you create and edit widgets? Do you have a skilled writer? Do you have a skilled researcher? Humorist? Do you have an email list or can you buy one? Can you partner with a non-profit?

Understanding campaign costs. If something is free, you must know if the ROI is sustainable. Starbucks got in trouble by canceling a free offer that went out of control. A competitor took advantage of that. Know your break even points.

Can you do this in house, or do you need to outsource this? Bring all this together to know your starting point.

Make it easy for people to spread content. Establish relationships. You need to be involved in the community. That’s the key. You lose that credibility of the pitch if you’ve never been heard of before.

Before pitching – aim for at least half of these:

1) Read at least 3 posts on their site.

2) Comment on one or two existing posts.

3) Write at least two sentences that are unique to the person pitching. Needs to be personal.

4) Have at least one other person read the email before you sending it.

5) Contact the blogger to share feedback before the pitch.

6) Keep track of which sites you pitch. Can get tough to manage a big campaign.

Must do’s before pitching:

1) Make sure your pitch addresses the person by NAME. Simple but few do it.

2) Make sure you have the right email address. Don’t send to unless you are looking for the right email.

3) No mass emails! People will know.

4) Be transparent. Let them know who you work for.

5) Spell check your message.

6) Familiarise yourself with their readers. Read the comments.

7) Ask yourself in all honesty if the pitch is really relevant to readers.

8) Check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches.

9) If you pitch multiple writers at the site, let them know in the text of the email.

Adwords Quality Score Help Part 1

As an Online marketing company with our web SEO and PPC training it’s very common to get questions on Google Adwords quality scores.

More and more, ranking positively in paid search listings is less about how much you pay and more about the “quality” of your ad campaign. But what goes into making up your quality score? We’ll take a closer look at quality factors and give tips on increasing the perceived relevancy of your campaigns.

What is a Quality Score? The old model is kind of a bid to position situation. Quality score essentially is a dynamic value assigned to each keyword, and is the basis for defining quality and relevancy of your ad. So the higher your quality score, the lower your minimum bid and the higher your ad placement.

Google rolled out Quality Score in 2005, and they revised the algorithm in 2007 to incorporate landing page relevance, and then later on allowed their users to see it

The key thing is that Google believe that delivering more relevant ads would create more value for users. If search engines can deliver more relevance that makes them look good and then you look good.

So Quality Score is a way to make searches more relevant.

Where to find the Quality Score? You need to drill down to the ad groups and specifically shows each of the keywords, you need to click on “customise columns” and then quality score. So it gives you a feeling of how good or poor your keywords are.

Historical click through rate for each keyword affects your Quality Score, the relevance of the ads and the quality of landing page. Also your account history, history of all click through rates and ads in your account. Of course there are factors as well that won’t be revealed to us.

Relevance and landing page are the key things.

Case study: We had a client who came to us as part of their whole SEO outsourcingrequirement. They were managing their own campaign and they currently had an average minimum bid of 40 pence, and 5 ad groups, and each ad group had 100 keywords. It turned out that 72% of their keywords had poor Quality Scores.

So the first thing we did was come in and create more, smaller, more relevant ad groups. Then we developed more relevant ad copy for each group. Then we optimised the landing page using Google’s web optimiser. And we tested to see what was and was not working. So some results: the average minimum CPC went down to about 8 pence, click through rates went up about 11%, conversions went up from 2.6% to 4.2% within 2 weeks, the quality score for over 50% of the keywords went from poor to great. And then after a month, anything that still had a poor rating, we just deleted them altogether.

So the key thing is you need to test and keep an eye on quality score. Many people miss out on this.

Hot tip: You probably should allocate about 10%-15% of your budget specifically to testing. You will learn what’s working and what’s not working.

B2B Paid Search Success Part 1

A successful online marketing strategy, paid search campaign is contingent upon three fundamentals: Keywords, Ad copy, and Landing pages. Together they equal success. Right?


The fact is, those fundamentals are only part of the equation. There is another key component entirely. Namely, Analytics. Or more specifically, tracking, and understanding the quality of a visitor. In fact, not only are these other elements fundamental, they also take on increased importance for the B2B set. Why? Because of the complexity of buying cycles for this market.

Let me explain.

When it comes to web seo and search, there are many similarities between marketing to consumers and marketing to businesses, such is the need to understand your audience and speak their language. However, when it comes to buying cycles, the similarities end.

In fact, B2B buying cycles are inherently complex. Consequently, marketers need to be mindful that prospects can be in very different phases within the buying cycle. And because it’s your job to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and think about what they need, tracking and understanding the quality of a visitor can be instrumental in helping you do just that.

Tracking: why digging deep on keyword data matters

To be sure, tracking offers marketers a myriad of benefits, not the least of which is keyword data. It’s a rich source, and analysis of it can yield highly valuable information that is both immediately actionable, and has the potential to significantly impact campaign performance. It can also help marketers avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

For example, many web marketing services providers, hastily ditch keywords that appear to be non-performers. This is a mistake. Instead, they should take a closer look at their tracking data. Here’s why.

A few years ago, comScore conducted a study that quantified the number of searches leading up to a purchase, by category. For example, the research revealed that computer hardware buyers searched an average of 4.9 times before ultimately making a purchase.

The implication of this finding should be obvious. Just because a keyword doesn’t yield immediate conversions, doesn’t mean it’s not contributing. It could very well be highly effective at moving a prospect through a particular phase of the buying cycle.

To capitalise on this behavior, marketers need to leverage tracking to better understand their customers and prospects. The first step in doing so is to make sure you don’t discount the keywords with a sub-par conversion record. In fact, before you remove a keyword that isn’t producing conversions, or reduce a bid, thoroughly review the query reports that are available through the search engines and/or your search vendor.

Regularly reviewing these click chain reports will help you understand the searches your customers actually conducted, and that ultimately led to their executing the call to action. Then use this data – whether manually or with a bidding agent – ensure that certain keywords maintain their positioning regardless of their direct conversion value.

And as you review these reports, pay attention to your inclusion window. This is the time allocated for a click and the subsequent conversion event to happen in order for it to be considered a result of a particular paid click.

It is critical to appropriately set your inclusion window within your tracking solution, otherwise the learnings gleaned from the data will be faulty. For example, if someone types a keyword, and then sees your ad and clicks, but doesn’t immediately convert, and then comes back to the site 10 days later and converts, it would not count as a conversion against the originating paid search click unless your inclusion window was set to 10+ days.