Category Archives: ROI

What are AdWords ‘Dimensions’ and why are they useful?

Some of you may have noticed that AdWords recently released a new tab within the campaign management section of the account called Dimensions. In this post I’ll discuss how to enable that feature and what some possible uses are for the data it displays.

Viewing Dimensions

Dimensions will not be visible by default, you have to select to view the tab within your account. To do so, go to your campaign settings, and click on the drop down menu to the right of the Networks tab, as shown in the screenshot above. After clicking on Dimensions, you will see an additional array of options to choose from, as shown in the image on left.

What should I care about dimensions?

Dimensions provide you an easy view to segment and view your AdWords data by the dimension of your choice for an ad group, campaign, or your entire account. One of my favorite options is to analyze how your account performs on different days of the week. If you’re concerned about ROI and have a tight budget, and the dimensions tab shows you that on Sundays your cost/conversion is higher than on other days of the week, you can choose to lower your budget on Sundays or pause your campaigns entirely.

Another view I found useful is to look at account performance over a period of several months. You will be able to see all of your statistics month-by-month and this can allow you to evaluate how the account has changed since you started implementing specific optimization strategies or special offers, for example.

I also found Destination URL data very useful, since you can quickly view how your different landing pages convert and which ones are most profitable. Really, Dimensions are another quick way to integrate and present reports and data you care about!

Should you let AdWords do the bidding for you with Enhanced CPC?

AdWords recently released a new bidding option under campaign settings called Enhanced CPC that uses your conversion data to optimize bids for ROI.  Advertisers will reportedly benefit from spending less time on managing bids while receiving more conversions at an equal or lower ROI.

The way Enhanced CPC* works is that your keyword bids are automatically adjusted up or down depending on how an individual keyword converts for you. As a result you may pay up to 30% of your set bid. It’s a feature you can enable at the campaign settings page, and it applies to all the ad groups within the chosen campaign. If you’re uncomfortable paying more than your set Max CPC, you should probably not use Enhanced CPC.

Unlike with Conversion Optimizer, the other AdWords advanced ROI bidding option, you do not need 15 conversions in the past 30 days to use this. However, Conversion Optimizers allows you to set specific CPA goals, which Enhanced CPC does not offer. If you are looking to lower CPA significantly, then you might be better off using Conversion Optimizer, which has greater potential to help you improve CPA.

*Do note that if you enable Enhanced CPC you will not be able to make changes to your campaigns through AdWords Editor.

Optimize Pay-Per-Click Display Campaigns for ROI

Many advertisers are reluctant to use display due to lack of control and poor ROI, but with the right set-up and optimization, display can be a great source of leads, and not just a branding tool. Display includes websites, such as blogs, articles, and other sites that will show ads relevant to their content. The Display Network has the advantage of reaching potential customers at different points of the buying cycle, and capturing the attention of those that were not yet considering searching for your services. For example, someone reading an article on how to clean a carpet might decide that they’d like to hire your carpet cleaning company after seeing your ad next to the article they were reading.

As you get ready to advertise on Display, keep in mind that users browsing online content behave very differently than those searching for specific information. Also, you will see different results from the two networks. Lower CTRs on display are normal and will not affect the quality of your search keywords. Most advertisers see higher conversion rates for search, but that’s not always necessarily the case. Some of my clients get most of their conversions from display. Then, there are advertisers who see lower conversion rates on Display but still get valuable traffic at lower costs than Search. The only way to know how Search and Display will perform for you is to test them both.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for optimizing display campaigns:

  1. Display only campaigns: When advertisers create their AdWords campaigns, they’re automatically opted into both networks. However, I do not recommend simply enabling Display within your existing campaign, keep the two networks separate. To get you started, create a mirror version on your search campaign, opt it out of search and leave it opted into content only.
  2. What placements to target: You can either run display ads by choosing Automatic Placements, where AdWords chooses for you what websites are relevant based on your current keywords and ads. or, you can target specific websites you’d like to show on by selecting Managed Placements. At this initial stage, I recommend going with Automatic instead of Managed Placements.
  3. Budget: While you test effectiveness of Display for your website, I recommend setting an initially lower budget for Display than for Search (10-20% of your total AdWords budget), and lowering your bids by about 20% for Display.
  4. Display ads: Create different ads for display to capture attention of users that are at different staged of the buying cycle. Also, create image and rich media ads. AdWords offers a free Display ad builder that will help you get started. Image and rich media ads tend to get better CTR on display than regular text ads.
  5. Exclude poor performers: Monitor what websites your ads have appeared on and exclude poor performers, which are sites that generate a lot of impressions but few clicks, and sites that you get a lot of clicks from but that don’t convert.

Keep monitoring your campaigns and adjusting based on incoming data. Display could prove a valuable source of cost-effective traffic you’ve been missing out on! What strategies have you tried that  worked?

Find out when your AdWords ads convert to maximize budget and ROI

Many advertisers have observed that their ads convert differently during the day. In fact, hourly conversion rates can vary as much as 50% from the overall average. To maximize your budget you should first find out when visitors are more likely to covert. To do so, log-in to your analytics account, go to Traffic Sources, click on the AdWords tab, and select Day Parts. There, you can see goal completions by hour of day.

If you notice that most of your conversions happen during certain times of the day, say during standard business hours, you may want to run your campaigns during business hours only. This can be set-up automatically within your AdWords campaigns by enabling Ad Scheduling. Be aware that restricting your ads to certain hours only will results in decreased impressions and clicks. However, this may still be a viable option for you, especially if you have a limited budget.  Understanding when your ads convert and acting on that information can help you maximize advertising dollars and improve ROI. You’ll avoid spending money on clicks that are less likely to convert and focus your efforts on what’s working for your website.

Use the broad match modifier in AdWords and get more clicks, while maintaining control

AdWords just released a new keyword match type called broad match modifier that gives more control over how your ads will show. The broad match modifier is more specific than broad match but provides greater reach than phrase or exact match. Unlike phrase match, it will trigger singular and plural variations, as well as misspelling and closely related words. And, unlike broad match, it will not expand to wildly irrelevant variations that hike up costs.

The broad match modifier is meant for advertisers that have been using phrase and exact mainly. This type of advertiser has been avoiding broad match because it’s shown their ads on variations that are too far outside the target audience. Even if you’re running on mainly broad match today I recommend testing the braod match modifier, as the more precise matching might improve your conversions. It’s recommended to add the new keyword in addition to your existing match keywords, rather than replacing them. Then, analyze your data and adjust bids and strategies accordingly.

To implement broad match modifier, simply out a + before each word in the search term. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the + sign, but there should be a space between the search terms in the query.

Correct: +sell +widgets
Incorrect: +sell+widgets
Incorrect: + sell + widgets

Implementation is still a little slow and manual. Within the interface, you have to click to edit a keyword and add the + sign manually. Hopefully, AdWords adds a feature that will allow us to change the keyword match type to the modifier within the interface and AdWords Editor soon.

I can’t blame advertisers for avoiding broad match, however phrase and exact can severely limit traffic. The issue of keyword being expanded too broadly with broad match has caused me hours of work reviewing search queries and adding negative keywords to maintain click and conversion volumes. The broad match modifier will be a valuable tool in my campaigns.

Best practices for using dynamic keyword insertion in AdWords ads

Keyword insertion is a tool that allows AdWords advertisers to automate their ads with a single piece of code in the ad copy. Keywords users are searching on are automatically populated into the ad, usually the ad title, possibly making the ad more relevant. To use it, you’d simply enter the following piece of code {KeyWord:Default Headline} into your ad. Keyword insertion is used most commonly in headlines. However, the code could also be placed in the rest of your ad text, as well as in your display and destination URLs.

There are many benefits to using keyword insertion, but you should also be careful to avoid weird looking ads that don’t make sense or aren’t converting for you. The table below explores some pros and cons of keyword insertion as well as my tips on how to best take advantage of it.

Stop wasting advertising dollars on bad keywords

Before you can analyze and make decisions on individual keywords, make sure you have conversion tracking set-up first in your Google AdWords account. Conversions are specific actions you care about on your website, such as lead submissions, white paper downloads, or most commonly, sales. If you’re not tracking conversions already, enable conversion tracking within your Google Adwords account first. You’ll get a code snippet to be placed on a page that’s usually a confirmation page for a desired action.

Once you’re tracking conversions, review your data regularly and make decisions based on patterns you’re seeing. If a keyword is getting a lot of clicks but few of those clicks are resulting in a conversion, you may want to lower your CPCs or pause that keyword entirely. This will save you $ and allow your PPC budget to be spent on other, more profitable terms. In the example below, I paused a keyword that generated clicks and had a good CTR but resulted in only 1 conversion and a relatively high cost/conversion.

Best practices for using negative keywords

Negative keywords are an excellent way to eliminate irrelevant impressions and improve the quality of your PPC traffic. They help boost your CTR, improve quality score, lower your CPCs and increase ROI. Here are my 5 best practices for using negative keywords with Google AdWords:

  1. Use negative keywords at the campaign level. Negative keywords in Google AdWords can be applied at the ad group or campaign levels. In most cases, you’ll want to use them at the more scalable campaign level to eliminate specific words or phrases from appearing with any on your keyword combinations pertaining to your entire campaign.
  2. Use the AdWords keyword tool. Look up additional keyword variations for your highest impression generating keywords through the keyword tool. Any searches that are not relevant to your business should be added as negative terms.
  3. Expand your negatives. Make sure that you expand the negative terms you come up with, adding singulars, plurals, synonyms and any other variations you can think of. The Google AdWords system does not expand the negatives for you. For example, if you’re running on a keyword ‘cosmetic surgery’ and you add a negative keyword ‘pic’ the query ‘cosmetic surgery pics’ still might trigger your ad unless you add ‘pics’ as a negative as well. Add synonyms (photo, photos, picture, pictures, pix) while you’re at it!
  4. Run search query reports. Search query reports will show you actual queries that led to clicks on your PPC ads. Any queries that do not apply to your website are excellent negative keywords. I recommend running this report once a week.
  5. Use advanced negative matching options. In addition to negative broad match, you can also use negative phrase and negative exact match. Negative phrase and exact match should be used to restrict specific phrases from triggering your PPC ads, but still preserve and allow your PPC ads to be triggered for some of the words within that phrase. Let’s say you are advertising a cosmetic surgery website, and you’re running on keyword ‘breast enhancement surgery’. Here are some use cases for advanced negative match types with that example in mind:

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