Thursday, June 25, 2009

Managing Adwords Avoids Increasing PPC Cost

Many B2B Adwords managers suffer increasing costs of pay-per-click campaigns in order to "stay competitive". And every Adword veteran has treasured paid search-terms that were not only effective, but really cheap and cheerful a few years ago. Now, thanks to more competition for keywords on a global scale, these same search terms are becoming more and more expensive to run with high rankings.

But there are strategies which help avoid this PPC price trap...

During the last year, I didn't experience Adword PPC inflation, but rather PPC deflation.

My overall global campaign costs are reduced and campaign quality has increased:

1. Total Adword Spend down over 50%
2. Already low Cost per Conversion down over 50%
3. Cost per Click down over 25%

And by spending less and with more selectively I gained better quality:

1. An already high Conversion Rate jumped over 35% from the prior year.
2. With conservatively counted conversion rates of over 8%, 20% and higher.

To get these happy results, I focused on separating search-term wheat from the chaff, by going for more long-tail terms and exact and phrase match options which have relevance to my targeted customers, micro-managing time and location settings, using Adsense content ad filters heavily, and using google hegative search terms aggresively to help my campaigns stay focused on the markets I wanted, and where and when I wanted them. I was able to acheive this across campaigns, global geography and languages without using an outside consultant.

Simple Adword campaign changes can yield big results.

Ad Position:
Another great way to limit PPC costs is to focus on the number 3 or 4 or 5 ad positions. Why? 1 and 2 get more clicks, this is true, but they get many more casual clicks of lower quality. You pay more for less.

By being lower in rankings but high enough to get noticed you filter out casual clicks and attract more quality visitors from the core market you seek. You pay less for more.

Monitor Conversion Rates before Click-Through-Rates:
For B2B at least, getting conversions for the sales funnel is more useful for ROI than the initial clicks. Follow conversion rates closely. Click-through rates do offer guidance for potential keyword search term trimming, enhancement and improvement. But the Conversion Rate rules as a top priority for gauging your campaign quality, effectiveness and efficiency.

Trim, Filter and Block Search Term Options:
For example, if you were targeting "Engineering Services", which is very broad search term, back in 2003 it was cheap, but it's not now. The search term is hyper-competitive in Google Adwords. But instead of total surrender, or gritting your teeth and paying more and more in a never-ending price war spiral with your competition, get creative with long-tail search terms to help get around tough PPC situations like this.

Ask yourself; who are your real, paying, customers?

If your target is the Engineering Services for the Nuclear Cold Fusion Industry, for example, then you have options which will be cheaper to run and more effective. Try not using the high cost search term "Engineering Services", it is too broad and expensive. Try more focused search terms like "Cold Fusion Engineering" or "Cold Fusion Energy Engineering" or "Fusion Widget Engineering", etc. Google's Keyword Tool can help you discover related many terms as searched for in Google. Choose quality search terms over 'popular' ones. A search term may be very popular, but perhaps too broad and expensive to run an ad for. Going for long-tail search terms will usually be much less expensive than "Engineering Services".

Extremely important when using the Keyword tool is to also identify the -negative search terms you want listed. Using negative search terms reduces the chance your ad will show up for a search term that is not related to your product or service, thus helping avoid wasted clicks, which saves your campaign budget. For example, having a negative term set for "software" and "web" is a wise idea for any campaign going after "Cold Fusion Engineering" search terms! You don't want to be confused with a software company if your product is a service providing nuclear industry technical engineering expertise.

It is true that there will always be search terms that you absolutely want.... you along with 10 of your favorite cut-throat competitors. In those cases still try to find allied long-tail search terms and negative terms you can use...use the geography and time settings. These and other tactics will help you keep your PPC spend down.

In B2B marketing, there are thousands of technical and industry niche search terms which produce few clicks but yield high quality visitors and profits. It takes some time to research and implement these actions, but they will pay off in the end.