By Gemma Barnard, operations director at Minute Steak, part of Steak Group.
Having a web presence has become de rigueur for businesses of all shapes and sizes. But whilst over 70% of companies now maintain dedicated websites, many are missing a trick when it comes to driving web traffic to their sites.
There are a multitude of ways of bringing the right visitors to your site through affiliates, search engines, price comparison sites, external links, display advertising, email and via other offline marketing campaigns such as direct mail, radio, print and TV. Amongst the most successful in terms of return on investment, trackability and cost per sale is paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC).
Research has shown that 51% of consumers use a search engine to purchase goods or services online. Google and the other search engines receive billions of searches every month all of which represent potential marketing opportunities for SMEs.
Effective PPC campaigns can be a cost-effective method for marketing your business during the recession, and its something that even smaller budget advertisers can benefit from.
Managing an AdWords account is an ongoing process and, implemented effectively, can be a valuable way to generate visitors and more importantly sales, registrations, downloads or any other conversion.
Here are some best practice tips for taking your AdWords campaign to the next level:
Your AdWords account can be split into a number of keyword campaigns categorised by brand, products, themes, generics, seasonal/temporary for example. Only having one or two campaigns can impede budget management and targeting.
If it’s not possible to break down your keywords into multiple campaigns, it may be beneficial to implement time-based rules so that your PPC adverts appear at certain times of the day, week or month.
Top tip – ensure that your highest converting terms take budget priority.
Keywords are assembled into groups, known as ad groups, which campaigns are then applied to. Around 50 keywords or less is ideal in each group; however there will be exceptions to every rule.
To optimise your AdWords account, identify the top performing and volume keywords and put them in their own ad groups expanding them out to capture ‘long tail terms’.
Long tail terms are terms that are very specific and often have lower cost per clicks (CPCs) and higher conversion rates due to their targeted nature eg ‘Middlesex office furniture supplier’ . In this case, the term would also benefit from being placed within a campaign with geo-targeting implemented.
Top tip – tighter ad groups = better copy, higher quality score, and lower CPC.
3. Ad copy
It’s best practice to write three ads per ad group as the search engines can carry out the best optimisations on this number and the most successful message will appear. Here are some tips for increasing click through rate (CTR):
- Put a capital letter at the start of most words
- Include the keyword within the title
- Include the benefits of the product/service
- Use any information that has been verified and distinguishes you from your competitors: 'The Best at X', 'The Cheapest' etc.
- Include any details of sales, promotions, exclusives etc.
- If competitive, use prices in the ad
- Use call to action phrases such as 'buy now', 'find online'
Top tip – ad copy should be tested frequently to find marketing messages that generate the highest CTR and on-site conversion.
4. Landing pages
It is better to deep-link URLs at a keyword level, ensuring the most specific page possible is served to visitors – this can increase quality score and conversions. This is another area that benefits from testing and optimisation.
Free tools such as Google Analytics and Optimiser are an excellent low-cost way of tracking activity and implementing A/B testing, which is a method of ad testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates.
It’s a classic direct mail tactic but has been pioneered for banner ads, email marketing and landing pages in recent years. An initial test could be to review the conversion uplift of repeating your ad messaging on your landing page versus enhancing your ad message with a unique landing page message. More advanced tests involve testing different purchase or registration processes to maximise conversion.
Top tip – landing pages play an important part in the quality score awarded by Google. Consistent messaging from keyword-ad-landing page will increase conversions and maximise return.
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