Cure Your SEM Blues with this 4-Step Account Audit

This guest post is by Richard Conn, Account Director of DataPop. DataPop’s mission is to make marketers lives easier and give them the technology they need to build ads that people love to click on. DataPop uses complex natural language text generation systems that extract a consumer’s underlying intent and matches it to optimized offers at massive scale.  On average, their clients see a 40% increase in online conversions at a 15% lower CPA. Follow the company on Twitter: @DataPop


Things go wrong. You wake up sick, the car won’t start, your boss is on your back, and your SEM campaigns are drifting south. We all feel under the weather at some point, but there are steps you can take to perk up your campaign performance.


1) Getting STARTed

When arriving on the scene of a disaster, folks in the medical field follow the principle of START: Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment. The goal is to quickly evaluate the situation and focus your attention on the areas where it will have the maximum impact. Your SEM campaigns may not be a disaster, but the same principles can be applied gain some quick wins. The first step is to categorize your campaigns into three buckets:

•Healthy campaigns. These are your high performing campaigns, such as brand campaigns, that don’t need any immediate attention. For these, maintain the status quo and revisit once you’ve stabilized your sick campaigns.

•Zombie campaigns. These are the campaigns that have never performed well, such as generic, broadly targeted campaigns. These can drag down performance fast, so consider pausing these campaigns, bidding them lower, or severely restricting their daily budgets to contain the damage.

•Sick campaigns. These are the campaigns that show some promise and might perform well if given immediate care. Focus most of your efforts here to improve overall account health.


2) Stop the Bleeding

The next step is to identify what is dragging down your sick campaigns. Pull a keyword performance report, a placement performance report, and a search query report for the last 90 days. For each report, look for keywords, placements, or queries that meet the following criteria:

  • Accumulated costs that are 3x your CPA target, but no conversions
  • Have a CPA that is 3x above target
  • Have an unusually low CTR and no conversions

– Below 0.10% for keywords and queries
– Below 0.01% for placements

  • Have a high number of impressions and zero clicks

– Above 1,000 impressions for keywords and queries
– Above 10,000 impressions for placements

Pause the keywords that meet these criteria. Add the placements and queries that meet these criteria as negatives to your campaigns. This simple fix should give you an immediate bump in performance.


3) Diagnose the Disease

Now that you have some quick wins under your belt, it’s time to dive deep to identify underlying issues that have held back performance.

Disease: Monochromatic Ad Copy

  • Symptoms: Majority of traffic is concentrated on a small set of headlines or description lines. Ads repeated across multiple ad groups.
  • Treatment: If you are heavily reliant on running the same ads across all of your campaigns, try to generate a few new variations to introduce to your highest volume ad groups. This can boost performance by better matching your ad to the keywords.

Disease: Acute Ad Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with only one active ad. This hurts performance as not every keyword within an ad group will perform well with the same ad.
  • Treatment: Add additional ads to ad groups that only have one active ad. Ideally, each ad group should have 2 to 4 active ads.

Disease: Ad Overdose

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with five or more active ads. This hurts performance by making it difficult to accumulate enough data to identify winning ads.
  • Treatment: In each ad group, pause the poorest performing ads so that only 2 to 4 ads remain active.

Disease: Keyword Chaos

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with 25+ keywords hurt performance by combining multiple intents. For example: ‘black dress’ and ‘red dress’ should be split into two ad groups so you can write ads specific to each color.
  • Treatment: Break out large ad groups into smaller ad groups Ideally, each ad group should have less than 25 keywords.

Disease: Match Type Mayhem

  • Symptoms: Traffic volume concentrated on Broad match keywords. This hurts performance by pulling in irrelevant queries.
  • Treatment: Identify high performing keywords from search query reports and add them into your campaigns as Exact match keywords. Consider breaking out your campaigns by match type and adding the Exact match keywords as negatives to your Broad match campaign to prevent cross-mapping and internal competition.

Disease: Under-Extension

  • Symptoms: Missing campaign extensions
  • Treatment: Be sure to add Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions, Product Extensions, and Location Extensions to your campaigns. These can give a big boost to CTR and conversion rates.

Disease: Campaign Setting Sickness (the silent killer)

  • Symptoms: Are all campaigns set to accelerated delivery?
  • Treatment: The best practice is to set all campaigns to accelerated delivery and to then manage spend via bidding. If you are running out of budget early in the day, then you should be able to bid lower and gain additional clicks for the same cost.
  • Symptoms: Are any campaigns showing ‘limited by budget’?
  • Treatment: If so, consider either bidding lower or increasing the daily budget.
  • Symptoms: Are search and content segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Always, always, always separate search and content into their own campaigns. They perform very differently and co-mingling your data will make it extremely difficult to optimize.
  • Symptoms: Are mobile devices segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Computers and tablets arguably have similar performance profiles. However, mobile devices are often much more difficult to complete transaction on, tend to have shorter queries and lower CPCs, and tend to work best for providing local information or for driving calls.
  • Symptoms: Are languages segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: This will allow you to tailor your ads to the preferred language of your users.
  • Symptoms: Are countries segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Likewise, this will allow for greater customization of your campaigns.
  • Symptoms: Are ads set to rotate evenly, optimize for clicks, or optimize for conversions?
  • Treatment: Rotating ads evenly is useful for testing creative messaging. Optimizing for clicks may boost your overall CTR and lower your CPC, but clicks ≠ conversions, so use with caution. Optimizing for conversions may work on campaigns with a high number of conversions, but won’t work for campaigns with few conversions.


4) Keep Calm and Car
ry On

Once you’ve rehabilitated your sick campaigns, you can maintain their good health through routine checkups.

Daily Tasks

  • Monitor performance
  • Bid management

Weekly Tasks

  • Check keyword performance report, search query report, and placement performance report for new negatives

Monthly Tasks

  • Pause out poor performing ads
  • Add new ads to high volume ad groups

Quarterly Tasks

  • Check campaign settings


By following this simple prescription, you can have your SEM campaign in tip-top shape in no time!



3 Ways To Ramp Up Your Mother’s Day Ad Campaigns Based On Industry Data

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we decided to take a look at our data to reveal some significant insights about the holiday’s online display ads.  MixRank tracks and analyzes millions of display ads on the web.  Based on the data we’ve found, I’ve put together a few recommendations for your current and future Mother’s Day campaigns.


1.  Invest in banner ads:  Our data shows that out of 814 advertisers who run display campaigns for Mother’s Day, only 35% of them have both contextual and banner ads. Why should you care? If you’re one of the 65% of advertisers who is only running contextual display campaigns, you are missing out on potential market share.  Consider banner ads in the future for any seasonal campaigns.  Banner ads are way more customizable to match your messaging or brand.


You can identify the most compelling banner ads targeting any keyword with MixRank Professional. Below are just a few banner ads that have targeted a broad match to “mothers day cards.”  Take a look:


2.  Bid Higher on Competitive Keywords: Next up, our intelligent web crawlers have identified what keywords advertisers are targeting via broad match for their display campaigns. If you’re considering making any last minute changes to your existing Mother’s Day campaigns, we’ve uncovered what the most competitive and least competitive keywords are, even showing you the number of ads you are competing against.


Most competitive keywords for Mother’s Day ads:



# of Ads

Mothers day cards


Mothers day crafts


Mothers day greetings


Homemade mothers day gift ideas


Mothers day crafts for kids




Least competitive keywords for Mother’s Day ads:


# of Ads

Mothers day gifts


Mothers day gift basket


Mothers day crafts from kids


Mothers day graphics


Mothers day clipart




Based on these keywords, our data suggests that the holiday card and greetings industry heavily invested in promoting Mother’s Day cards.  If you’re selling greeting cards, make sure you bid higher on the most competitive keywords before time runs out!


3.  Skip the keywords that no one else is bidding on: Follow the industry trends supported by our data.  If you’re one of the few advertisers who are targeting “mothers day gifts,” consider opting out next year.  Why?  Many other advertisers in the industry have chosen not to target this keyword for their display ads, most likely because it is an unprofitable keyword to target.


This wraps up just a few insights that you could draw from MixRank’s powerful data.  Interested in seeing similar keyword lists for your industry?  MixRank Enterprise offers these reports among many other customizable data sets.


Try MixRank for free.  MixRank’s search engine for ads can help you identify ad trends in your industry, uncover competitors’ ad copy, and pinpoint the most profitable publishers for your product.


Thank you for reading!  If you’d like more insight into display advertising trends, add me to your circles on Google+ or follow me on Twitter.



How To Find Long Tail Keywords That Bring Massive Traffic

Let’s talk about long tail keywords. Whether you’re doing SEO for a content site or building out a PPC campaign for an ecommerce site, you’re going to be focused almost exclusively on long tail keywords, because the shorter keywords are either too competitive or too expensive.You need to remember this about long-tail keywords: Getting a little bit of traffic from random long-tail keywords is relatively easy. Getting lots of high-converting traffic from long-tail keywords is hard. Very hard.It’s so hard that Demand Media has built a billion dollar company largely on their ability to find good long-tail keywords, and Yahoo paid a lot of money for Associated Content to try to do the same.Plugging in your main keywords into keyword tools is a losing strategy; You will probably have dozens of competitors using the same keyword tool, targeting the same exact cheaper keywords. Racking your brain for synonyms and misspellings may give you a few golden, uncompetitive, profitable keywords, that will result in 1-2 sales a day, but we’re not really interested in that here at’re interested in rapidly delivering lots of traffic. We don’t want the piddling 10 visits a day from people who can’t spell. We want a server-melting avalanche of traffic that will catapult your business and revenues to a level you never thought possible. And in order to accomplish that, your keywords need to be scalable.

Scalable Long Tail Keywords Lead To Big Profits

Let’s say you’re selling hard drive data recovery software. Here are two hypothetical long tail keywords you might use:download data recovery softwareseagate data recovery softwareLet’s assume for the sake of argument that both keywords are equally competitive, have the same traffic volume, and convert exactly the same. If you could only pick one for a new campaign, which one would you pick? Don’t think it matters? One of these keywords could be 10 times more valuable for your business. What other keywords naturally come to mind first to expand this list further? How about:seagate data recovery softwarehitachi data recovery softwaretoshiba data recovery softwareThe secret is that one of these keywords has a specific and easily varied modifier that can be changed to quickly scale the campaign with equally relevant yet diverse keywords. This means that you can rapidly and easily build out highly relevant ad groups without using keyword tools or worrying about synonyms or misspellings.It took me about 5 seconds to find a list of hard drive manufacturers I can use as the backbone of my campaign structure. This technique isn’t limited to brands or types of products.We can try this for dating(ages):singles over 30singles over 40singles over 50or weight loss( list of food):low fat salad dressinglow fat souplow fat cakeNo matter what you’re advertising, if you start by thinking of a single specific keyword containing an easily varied modifier, it will only take a few minutes to build a campaign that contains only cheap long-tail keywords but still delivers significant traffic volume.This is one of the secrets top marketers use to build multi-million dollar campaigns: start with an easy to modify long tail keyword, and scale.