Pay Per Click

ip targeting shows a red home in a sea of white IP addresses

The Evolution of IP Targeting Ads

By | Lead Generation, Pay Per Click | No Comments

One of the first applications of information in an IP database was targeting to specific geographic regions. Most commercial ad management systems have IP databases that can make geographic targeting possible. However, there are a couple weaknesses in this method. The first (and biggest) problem is that, for various reasons, not all IPs can be mapped to an accurate location.

Read More

Most Businesses Don’t Need App Advertising

By | Pay Per Click | No Comments

People don’t want to see your ad when they’re using apps. Period. There’s not a lot else that needs said. Most businesses don’t need app ads in the digital marketing mix. There’s too many ways it can go south, and too much heavy lifting that needs to be done to make the initiative work. Jumping to this stage is literally throwing good money at bad.

Read More

Things Your AdWords Company Should Show You

By | Pay Per Click | One Comment

As an AdWords management company, our team has seen a number of “reports” (using the term loosely) that second-rate and novice PPC management companies send to their clients. Often times it’s nothing more than a screenshot out of their Google My Client Center, or a top level report showing impressions.  If you’re AdWords management team isn’t showing you AT THE MINIMUM three of the four items below, you may need to consider a switch. Actually, if you can’t see an ROI (or see how the exposure is playing a key role in ROI), it’s time for a switch. But that may take time to see. Here’s some leading indicators of what needs to be present to “know” if you’re pay-per-click management company is actually making you money or taking your money:

Reporting on Conversions: Conversions can be sales, or leads, or even just goal conversions (like video views). Whatever they are, you know that you’re spending your money on something other than “impressions and clicks”. Those things matter…but if you aren’t getting that bottom line shown to you on a regular basis, you should.

Reporting on Remarketing: To report on remarketing, one must first be running a remarketing campaign. Subtle hint. This is less about reporting and more about seeing that your AdWords campaign team is recommending best practices. You can remarket at numerous steps to prospects, including at the cart abandonment page if you have an e-commerce website. Even if you just use it to generate cheap brand impressions, it’s one of the most powerful PPC tools out there (and one you should certainly be using).

Reporting on Mobile vs Desktop Performance: Yes, it may be that one campaign works great for both mobile and desktop. But how do you know if you aren’t seeing it reported and split out separately? Depending on your business, you may want to focus on driving phone calls from mobile users versus form conversions from desktop users. You may want a completely different set of ads for mobile based on usage patterns. Regardless, you need to see if there’s a need or not. Any PPC management company worth their salt will show you regularly.

Reporting on MOM or YOY Performance: This is something that always throws up a red flag. If your current AdWords contractor isn’t showing you trends, benchmarks and the improvement that’s being made over time…there’s a good chance they don’t want you to see it for a reason. Either they aren’t making progress or worse, they’ve moved the needle backwards. A good partner will be forecasting future campaign performance and showing you trends each month.

Reporting on a Plan: What’s next for your campaign? What is being done to improve performance? Are additional landing pages being created based on keyword research? Are other digital marketing tactics needed to multiply the value of the current campaign? A little strategy should come every month. Not getting the things listed above? Maybe it’s time you found a new digital marketing partner company


a ppc management company is shown building blocks together like a puzzle

Is Your PPC management Company Stealing From You?

By | Pay Per Click | No Comments

If you’re reading this blog post, either you currently HAVE a PPC management company working for you, or you’re looking at hire a digital advertising company.  I think you’ll find some value here, so please read on.  But first…how much do you really know about how PPC “works”? If you’re doing your homework right not and trying to make a good decision about who you hire, first know the basics. The following video is dry and can move slowly, but it will absolutely arm you to understand the basics of PPC management concepts:

Now that you have a baseline understanding, you can start asking meaningful questions. Anyone that says they’ll manage your PPC campaigns should be able to explain to you, just as the video does, a number of things. Things such as how the auction system works, how quality score works, what levers can be pulled to improve average ad position/rank, etc. This is a baseline. If there’s even a HINT of uncertainty during this explanation, do yourself a favor and move on.

Here’s a few other terms & concepts that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. If you’re researching companies right now, ask about these items. If you’re currently engaged with a PPC management firm, look for mentions of these items with your performance reports or activity logs.

Negative Keywords: The list of terms that you don’t want to bid on is actually just as important as the list of terms that you do want to bid on. This list should start out strong and grow each month. Previous reports show that as much as 40% of click activity is wasted activity. Don’t be a statistic! Make sure whoever is touching your accounts is managing negative keywords aggressively.

Remarketing: We covered the difference between remarketing and retargeting in this post. Regardless, if you aren’t using this fantastic tool for both branding AND as a sales driver or conversion generator, you’re missing out. This is the most important development in the past few years for advertisers…the ability to track your prospects for 30, 45 or even 60 days with reminders about your company, or a compelling second-chance offer if they abandoned their shopping cart. PPC management companies that don’t bring this to the table probably lack the big-picture view to really grow your business.

Ad Copy Testing: If budget doesn’t exist to do A/B testing for your landing pages or to engage in other landing page optimization efforts, as a baseline your ad copy should be tested constantly. Slight tweaks in phrases or wording can impact both click-through rates and conversions. A word of caution here though…make sure your sample size is large enough to be statistically valid before making global decisions about ad performance. Speaking of ad copy, make sure anyone involved with your paid advertising understands dynamic keyword insertion. Especially for shorter phrases, this is a great tool to match user intent with your specific ad.

There’s a lot more that you should be on the lookout for when you’re evaluating PPC management companies. However, the items below are baselines. If you aren’t getting this now, it’s time to move. If you’re doing your homework before hiring help, make sure these are all covered.

*Additional Note* Unfortunately, many pay per click management outfits have tunnel vision. They only want to focus on this one channel. If your real goal is generating more leads, you may want to look for a partner that also understands organic search, display advertising, email marketing and social channels such as Facebook and Twitter. The end result isn’t a cool paid advertising campaign…it’s generating profitable leads and sales.

As always, happy marketing, and we’ll see you again soon!

an image of hunter pence grimacing while using a keyboard to search on Bing

Hunter Pence Uses Bing, But Does He Use Bing Ads?

By | Pay Per Click | No Comments

As a true Kansas City Royals fan, it’s taken me awhile to recover from the World Series. It’s still hard to write about or talk about, but amid the amazing run by my hometown team something germane to my craft popped up…#HunterPence signs.  That’s right, the craze the followed the maniacal-looking outfielder touched on an interesting point for PPC managers and advertisers in general.

Among the signs razzing Pence was one that read as such: #HunterPence uses Bing.  I chuckled when I read that.  But then I stopped and asked myself, “why is that funny?”  It’s funny because there’s a perception that  nobody uses Bing. And in that perception issue lies real opportunity for marketers of all sorts.

You see, Bing is far from irrelevant. In fact, a recent report from Hubspot highlighted that roughly 30% of all search happens on the Microsoft/Yahoo network. And here’s another interesting item that lacks statistical foundation…the traffic is cheaper than AdWords traffic. I know this because I live in this space each day, and each day I see similar performance in terms of CTR and total conversions, only at lesser click prices. Added bonus, you get more real-estate to write ad copy. Anyone who has ever tried to manage a PPC campaign knows that the character caps can be tricky to say the least.

BingAds costs less, has more ad copy, and overall has a very similar interface. There’s just not that much volume, that’s all.

Volume. That’s what drives Google’s ad sales. Volume of users, volume of searches, volume of ads served. But what’s that mean to advertisers? It means competition, and by default, higher prices. Using Google AdWords is definitely fishing where the fish are in terms of generating leads…but using Bing Ads is simply finding a smaller lake with fewer fisherman.

So hey, if you’re Hunter Pence, maybe you’re doing some things right. You know, other than playing a role in smashing the dreams of Kansas City Royals fans all across the Midwest. This Bing thing just might catch on after all.

So what do you think about using Bing Ads as a marketing tool? Is it a “must have” or a “nice to have”?

14 Keys To A Successful PPC Campaign

By | Lead Generation, Pay Per Click | No Comments

Successful PPC Campaigns Are Earned, Not Created

We’ve been managing Google Adwords and Bing Ads campaigns for a long time. Most of our clients found their way to us after they’d tried, unsuccessfully, to get a positive ROI from pay per click advertising on their own. Over the years, the campaigns we’ve reviewed shared many of the same tell-tale signs of under performance. Some mistakes that novice PPC managers make are easy to overcome. Other times, it requires blowing up the whole account and starting fresh. Better than starting fresh is doing it right the first time. With that in mind, you”l want to check out our guide to running a successful PPC campaign laid out below:

#1 Avoid Adwords Express: We’re putting this first. If you selected this option, reconsider that move and start over. This “gets you in the game” quickly, but scoots past all the important stuff you have to consider for your campaign to really work. This is an important marketing decision. Treat it like one!

#2 Make Sure To Separate “Search” And “Display”: If you go with the default of search and display combined…congratulations! Google loves you, because every 2nd and 3rd tier publisher in their network will show your text ads, eating up the bulk of your budget and driving down CTR’s. Save display campaigns for display ads, especially retargeting (which we’ll get to later).

#3 Set Up The Right Geographic Targeting: The default setting for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns is targeting the entire United States (and Canada). If you only have reps in 15 states, this isn’t going to work for you. If you are a local business, this REALLY isn’t going to work for you. You must assign the geo-targets at the outset of building your campaign. You’d be surprised how many times businesses are advertising where they have no business advertising (pun intended).

#4 Create A Tight Keyword List: Many business owners are surprised to learn that broad matched key phrases will pull in traffic for every word in the phrase. For example, using a broad match phrase for the term used construction equipment will result in your ad showing for terms pertaining to construction and terms pertaining to equipment. Imagine your ad for construction equipment showing for queries around construction companies, construction jobs, construction paper, farm equipment, sports equipment and equipment manufacturers. Yep, that’ll happen. It’s no wonder that many businesses waste as much as 30% of their PPC campaign spend without ever knowing it.

#5 Always Maintain A Negative Keyword List: Negative keywords can help you filter out all the junky, worthless clicks that eat up budget and lower your conversion rates. As you monitor the keywords that are bringing you clicks and impressions, make sure you understand how to maintain this tool, both at the campaign and ad group level. It’s estimated that as many as 25% of AdWords accounts don’t use any negative keyword list whatsoever. That’s a big no-no if you want to make money.

#6 Proof Your Ad Copy: The old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And if that first impression is a typo? Goodbye customer. Measure twice and cut once. Or in this case, proof twice and submit once. It’s worth noting here that best practices are to capitalize every word in the body copy. It helps it stand out. It’s also worth noting that ads with a strong point of differentiation or at least a call to action get more than 15% more clicks than ads without them. Consider that.

#7 Test Multiple Ads: From the very get-go, you should write two or three ads for each ad group. Over time, as enough impressions, clicks and conversions rack up, you can determine which ad is the strongest. Knock off the weaker ad(s) and test a new one. This is a simple and underused method of optimizing your PPC campaign.

#8 Log In Daily: The absolute number one thing you can do to ensure the success of your PPC campaign is to check in daily. Published reports of small business advertisers show that only about 1% sign in to their AdWords account on a weekly basis. Not even daily. Weekly. If you don’t have capacity to have eyes on your performance daily, find someone who does. This thing isn’t going to manage itself.

#9 Focus On Your Quality Score: Some people consider this “voodoo” that is hard to calculate. But if you know how to manipulate the columns in your Adwords or Bing Ads account, you can see it’s calculated – or at least estimated – from inception. Average Quality Score is a great indicator of how your campaign will perform, as it directly affects both your average ad position and the cost you’ll pay for each click. Lower CPC’s (Cost Per Clicks) save you money. Period. Anything below a “6” needs some love. Anything below a “5” needs to be paused or have other action taken.

#10 Have Great Landing Pages: This is the easiest concept to grasp, but the hardest to accomplish. It requires having a well-built website (or at least a set of well-built pages) that works well across all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) and gives the reader what they want. If it’s information, the page needs an easy and noticeable form to submit. If it’s e-commerce, make sure the checkout process is clearly defined and that users don’t have to wander around a page to find the product they’ve searched for. Don’t be the business that sends all their traffic to your homepage. Understand the importance of landing page strategy and optimization. And if you DO send all your traffic there…at least make sure that the page gives users what they want – regardless if they’re looking on an iPhone or an old desktop.

#11 Be Okay With Being Second (Or Third): Often times, clients will come to us bemoaning how expensive it is to run their PPC ads. One of the first questions we ask is “what’s your goal for this campaign?” More than once we’ve heard a response along the lines of “being first in the search results!” A-type personalities are great. We fully appreciate them. But being first at all costs isn’t a sound business strategy. No keyword is worth an insane bidding battle. Conversions matter. ROI matters. Being #1 ion the page…well…it matters (but not at all costs!)

#12 Consider Your Optimal Schedule: Chances are your landing pages or website includes a phone number. What happens if people call after hours? Or on the weekends? If you aren’t staffed, don’t run your ads. Failing to consider the best ad schedule for your business can really cost you. Also, it’s a great tool to “stretch” a budget. If your budget is $3,000/month, that’s roughly $90 a day (Google especially will blow past your daily budget by 10% on any given day). But what if you only run during the week since you’re closed on the weekends? That $90 a day goes up to more than $135 a day. Something to consider.

#13 Set Up Retargeting: This is especially important if you are running an e-commerce site, or have a longer sales cycle with your customers. You can target visitors who didn’t actually convert to a lead or a sale with display ads that follow them around for the next 30 days. This also requires some extra, you’ll want to create a solid ad that follows best practices…but if you’ve clawed and fought to target the right customer, why not buy some insurance and stay in front of them in case they weren’t quite ready to move forward when they first visited your site? At the very least it’s fairly inexpensive brand impressions to a target prospect. At the most, it’ll net you additional leads and sales that otherwise would fall through the cracks.

#14 Always Track Your Progress: If you aren’t tracking your weekly, monthly and quarterly success, you’re missing an opportunity. Detailed performance reporting can be complex, but looking at the basics isn’t. Take the time to know what is improving and what is declining. “Fish where the fish are” and you’ll be able to optimize the good parts to new heights, while lopping off weaker segments of your campaigns.

We hope you’ve found this valuable. If so, please share it or link to it as a resource. Or, if you’re a business owner or decision maker looking for professional help with your campaign, drop us a line today. We’d love to hear from you! Finally, if you’re a PPC professional…tell us what you think about this list in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you too : )

a digital marketer uses SEO and PPC together on a spreadsheet

An 80’s Rock Band Approach To Using SEO And PPC Together

By | Pay Per Click, SEO | No Comments

Back in the 1980’s, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing a song by Darryl Hall and John Oates of Hall & Oates fame. With 6 number one hits and 34 Top 40 singles, it’s clear that the duo’s soulful rock music struck a chord with audiences. To this day, they credit their success to their ability to combine the best of both of their talents into songs that resonate with their audience. Read More

Understanding The Difference Between Retargeting & Remarketing

By | Pay Per Click, Retargeting | No Comments

So you just finished visiting that Sporting Goods store online over your lunch break, and like magic, that very same set of irons you looked at is appearing all over the internet. It’s like someone knows that you were looking at those golf clubs and wants to remind you that hey, breaking par on the local course is possible if you just have the right equipment. So, you click on an ad. And what do you get? If the retailer is smart, you get a unique landing page touting not only that sweet set of irons, but a complimentary driver at a 10% discount along with free delivery. Nearly impossible to resist.

That, my friends, is retargeting. Sweet isn’t it?

Sometimes it’s not that complex. Lazy marketers will target anyone that visits any page on their site, and follow them around with generic branding messages. Outsourced digital marketing professionals, though, will carefully craft these based on what you saw and what you did or didn’t do, its borderline genius. But what is it really?

In its essence, its pixel tracking. A retargeting pixel is placed on a certain page, a certain section or everywhere on a website. Anyone that visits the pages with the pixel get added to an audience (the group of people who visited that page, section or site). They get cookied, and as they wander around the web looking at whatever it is they look at, they are shown ads specific to the pages that were visited. The size of the audience is important – the larger the pool, the greater the chance that someone will re-engage. Pretty simple.

Which brings us to remarketing.

It’s the same thing really. Google has branded their form of retargeting as “remarketing”. We’ve actually heard people arguing over what the differences are. Think of retargeting as a generic concept, and remarketing as Google’s application of that concept. It’s simply a branding tactic by the Big G, which also includes some network-specific intricacies.

Regardless of what you call it, re-acquiring key prospects who have NOT converted into a lead or a sale is an important digital marketing tactic. Many business owners and marketing decision makers don’t realize that you can even retarget your traffic while they are on Facebook, with sponsored stories or item-specific ads. It’s a critical component for advertisers with longer than average sales cycles. If the purchase cycle requires education and moving a prospect systematically along multiple touch points, retargeting is crucial. It’s also fantastic for e-commerce publishers who want to help minimize fallout from their checkout process.

(UPDATE 1/3/2016): Google offers video remarketing, the ability to remarket straight to someone’s gmail address and many other advanced options.

If your business is running a paid ad campaign and doesn’t have this component in place, you’re missing out on increased ROI. Creative costs are a factor, but as the old saying goes…it doesn’t take a lot to do a lot. A little know-how and a small slate of page-specific display ads can add prospects to your funnel and customers to your database. It’s one of our keys to a successful PPC campaign that is a must for your sales arsenal. If you’re ready to harness this fantastic tool, give us a call or drop us a line today!