Saturday, June 6, 2009

Increase Adword Conversions and Reduce Adword Spend, Take One

I received a good Paid Search question from a SEM marketer in LinkedIn recently:

"We use Google Adwords, about $X000 a month I think and most of our conversions are unqualified leads. We have tried different campaigns, keywords and a competitive approach, but nothing seems to work too well. Any advice?"

I use Google Adwords for driving in B2B enquiries, it is an important part of our web lead generation efforts along with Organic Search (our top priority). I use Adwords across the world for key global markets and languages. I manage these large campaigns on a daily basis, because trends and news across the world can change and drive new business opportunities.

Last year I concluded that we should attempt to raise our Conversion Rates (already considered 'good' by Google) and lower the cost-per-conversion (already low) and reduce overall Adword Spend. The goal was to squeeze even more efficiency out of every Adwords dollar I spend.

I acheived this result by Optimizing Search Terms and Filtering, Filtering and Filtering.

Before diving into Adwords tactics and strategies, the content on your landing page must be optimized first and foremost.... landing page content should be focused, concise and precise. Let the visitor know exactly what you offer, the benefits, and include a call to action. This greatly helps filter out low-quality visitors not relevant to your business.

Since last summer, I reduced Adword spend by over 50% and increased conversion rates by over 100%, and cut cost-per-conversion significantly. This took time and attention, coupled with a good understanding of target markets.

To find good search terms, the Adwords Keyword Tool is a great source. Looking for long-tail niche terms is like looking for gold nuggets... worth the effort. Great search-terms can also be found in your Analytics and from you Customers and Busines Development reps.

Extremely important in helping filter out casual or confused Adword clicks is an aggressive use of Negative Search Terms. Heavy use of negative keywords helps to greatly reduce the number of unwanted clicks from casual or confused visitors.

Use of
Phrase "keyword" and Exact [keyword] search terms also helps focus and filter how and when your ad will show.

Using the Adword Geography and Time Scheduling features is very important to help reduce low quality clicks. If you don't want to show ads in a particular Nation or State, make sure your settings are correct. If you don't want to show ads between 11 PM and 5 AM in Texas, make sure this is covered.

Your Price per click settings and Budget settings are also important. This helps determine ad rankings, and Ad rankings help determine the number of people who click the ad.

Ad Ranking is very important. Many ads I run are at the number 2, 3, 4 or lower positions, and I am very happy.
Why? Because I only want the Qualified Visitor... someone who is motivated or interested in doing business with my company. I don't want casual visitors who click the number one ranked ad out of curiosity or confusion... those can be wasted clicks that hurt Conversion results and raise cost.

My efforts resulted in a much higher conversion rates and significant reduction in spending. And yet... one can go too far in this process. At some point focus can be so tight that good potential enquiries from people who use a low-quality search term can be lost. I am considering this challenge... so I may engineer a reduction in conversions to widen the Adwords Campaign focus for certain niche campaigns. Running large and successful Adwords campaigns is not unlike being an active Stock Trader... daily attention is required in a dynamic market for Search Terms.

Erik Holladay
Google Adwords Professional
Global Marketing Director