Seven Smart Standards for Google Shopping

This is a guest post by Jacques van der Wilt, the founder of WordWatch and DataFeedWatch.

Google Shopping replaced the free Google Product Search in October 2012. If you look at a Product Listing Ad (PLA), you immediately see why this ad-type is much more powerful.

Results from various agencies shows that these picture-ads outperform text ads on conversion rate and cpc. American merchants are already spending up to 30% of their budget on Google Shopping.

If you are getting started with PLAs, go by the Seven Smart Standards below to get the most out of your Google Shopping campaign.

1.  The Basics: Get ’em right
Before you start bidding, make sure that you have covered the basics:

  • Export your product feed to your Google Merchant Center (GMC) and link your GMC to your AdWords account.
  • Make sure that your feed is updated on a daily basis, so your ads always reflect your current offerings.
  • The feed has to meet all Google’s requirements. If it doesn’t, Google just won’t show your ads. Check for errors in your Google Merchant Center and use a data feed optimization tool if you need to solve any. This includes assigning the proper Google Categories to your products. The more specific the sub-category, the better your conversion rate.
  • Remember to organize your sales funnel. No matter how grand your campaigns may be, you need to convert visitors to buyers on your website.
  • Have tracking code for AdWords & Analytics installed on your site.
  • Google doesn’t want you to shout and will not accept Titles in UPPER case or with exclamation marks!!!
  • Product Listing Ads on Google’s Search Engine Result Page (SERP) generate the major part of the traffic generated by Google Shopping. Only a small part originates from the Google Shopping site. So when you start optimizing your feed and your campaign, focus on the SERP!

2.  The Picture: Worth more than a 1,000 words
The pictures of the PLAs are powerful. Everyone’s eyes are drawn to it. The picture may be more important for an apparel merchant than for a shop selling widgets, but still: it is human nature to judge a book by the cover. So make every effort to get the best possible pics of your products. Also: if you have several pictures for each product, make sure that the best one is the one that is shown in your PLA.

3.  The Title: Make me beautiful
Titles may be less powerful, but remember that a PLA only has 3 components and this is the second one. So make ‘m work. Make them compelling. Include the brand if it adds value (What is ‘501’ without Levi’s). And put the most important message in the first part: Google will allow you up to 70 characters, but on the SERP, everything after approx. 30 characters is cut off.

4.  The Price: Less important than you might think
On Google Shopping, consumers will actively sort on price and if your product is not among the cheapest, it will not make the buyer’s shortlist. But on the SERP, price comparison plays a much smaller role. People see 8 products at the most and they can only sort on price visually. So don’t focus too much on competing on price: Bidding 10% more to make sure your PLA always makes it to the SERP, will probably cost you a lot less than sacrificing your gross margin. If you advertise the same products on other Comparison Shopping Engines, price is of course still important.

5.  The Bids: Follow the money
The key to setting bids is to create product targets that have a similar conversion rate. But you have to bear in mind where you make your money and apply several of the following strategies:

  • Brand & Product type: this makes sense when you get started. Products of a similar type or brand may have similar conversion rates. So set a bid for each brand or product type (or combination of the two) and then start optimizing based on the results.
  • The 80/20 rule: Most shops have a few products that generate a large part of the revenue. Each of those products should get their own product target (use the ID-attribute) so you can monitor and optimize your best selling products.
  • Gross margin: If 2 products have the same conversion rate, but a very different gross margin, you don’t want them to be in the same product target: You want to bid more on the product that makes you more money.
  • AdWords Labels: you may find that the blue shirts have a much higher conversion rate than the other colors. Or the large screens do better than the small ones. In that case, you want to increase your bid for the blue ones or the large ones. AdWords enables you to set a bid for any attribute, if you add that attribute to your data feed as an AdWords Label. So modify your feed to include your favorite attribute and use it to create a separate product target.

6.  The Losers: Take ’em out
You should not advertise all your products. Analyze your data and ask yourself: which products are really making me money? Take the losers out of your feed and stop wasting your money there. Examples:

  • Seasonal products: don’t sell winter stuff in April
  • Cheap products: the CPA often exceeds the gross margin. So you lose money every time you sell an item.
  • The Unsellables: some products just won’t sell. Maybe Google is not the right channel, maybe these products have a bad landing page, maybe you just can’t compete for these products or maybe they are sooooo 2009.

You have 3 ways to deal with that:
a. Find out why they have a poor performance and fix it.
b. Put your losers in separate product targets and make sure you don’t end up losing money on them
c. Exclude them from your feed completely and focus on your winners.

7.  The Feed: Foundation of it all
Getting Google to accept your feed is just a start. But once you have figured out how to deal with the previous 6 items, it’s time to optimize your feed, so that it serves as a perfect foundation for your AdWords campaign, the product pages on Google Shopping and PLAs on Google’s result page. Applying the knowledge of the previous points to the feed, would lead to the following data feed optimizations:

  • Modify your feed to match Google’s format.
  • Assign the right Google Category to your products
  • Use your best picture as the primary image_link
  • Rewrite your Titles for maximum impact
  • Create AdWords Labels or AdWords Groups in your feed
  • Exclude your poor performers

Data feed management can be done in many different ways, but there is one guiding principle: you need to optimize your feed continuously to run a successful campaign on Google Shopping and other Shopping Channels.

About the Author
Jacques van der Wilt has worked in online media for more than 20 years. He has held leadership positions in both the US and Europe. In the past 10 years he has worked as an entrepreneur and founded several start-ups. He is also a mentor at accelerator Startupboothcamp. As founder of WordWatch (automated bid management) he became an expert in search engine marketing for medium sized advertisers and with its spin-off DataFeedWatch (a web-based tool for merchants to optimize their data feed for Google Shopping and other comparison shopping channels) he established a leadership position in managing data feeds and Product Listing Ads campaigns.

Product Listing Ads: The Power of Segmentation

This is a guest post by James Kelly, Senior SEM Analyst of National Positions.

Product Listing Ads have grown immensely in popularity over the last year and many articles have been written detailing the importance of getting them live. At this point the real question is how to maximize exposure and profitability for your ecommerce marketing campaign.

Feed and bid optimization is the first place that many people look. Both of these are of critical importance, but I find that advertisers spend so much time worrying about these issues that the actual campaign structure is often ignored. The decision on how to structure and segment your PLA campaigns will dictate your ability to analyze and optimize the campaigns over time.

Google provides us with the ability to segment PLA’s by product type, condition, brand, ID or custom fields within your feed (adwords_grouping & adwords_labels). The first pitfall that many advertisers encounter is choosing conflicting segments, so that any single product could have as many as five or six bids coming from different targets. While campaigns built in this way may appear incredibly detailed, they are unwieldy and are difficult to manage effectively.

Targeting

With this in mind, a good first step is choosing a primary targeting method. Each product will inevitably have multiple targets, but there should be one targeting method that you intend to use for the majority of your bid optimization that will have higher bids relative to your secondary targeting methods. The idea here is to try to remove as much of the conflicting bids as possible so that you can actually dial things up when they are converting, or down when they are not. If a single product has six bids and no rhyme or reason as to which one is highest, it will be very difficult to do something as simple as lower the bid on that product by 50% without also lowering the bid on all related products with similar targets.

My primary targeting method of choice is the adwords_labels field filled with a unique ID for each product. In this case, I have the ability to control my bid for individual products to avoid missed opportunities and wasteful spending. Targeting each product individually can allow greater levels of control, but it can be difficult to account for new products or changes in the feed, which is why additional targeting is required.

Secondary targeting methods can be thought of as catch-alls, whose main purpose is to pick up any products that have not been picked up by your primary targets. I generally use a product type or brand as the secondary targeting method depending on what makes more sense for the particular client. The secondary target must have artificially low bids so that they do not overlap any of your primary targeting. I have heard clients express concerns that the bids are too low, but with proper execution, the secondary targets should be more of a safety net than an active target. If you notice that a secondary target is receiving significant amounts of traffic, this should be a sign to take a look at your primary targets to see what is leaking through. To err on the safe side, I also use an all products target with a much lower bid (sometimes a penny bid) to ensure that I have basic coverage for new products that may not have other targets.

Campaign Structure

Once the various levels of targeting have been sorted out, the last remaining question is how to structure the targets into campaigns, ad groups and targets. With a smaller product count, I typically create a unique ad group for each product containing my primary targeting method in a single campaign. Secondary targets will also have unique ad groups so that all bids can be managed from the ad groups tab.

Accounts that have tens of thousands of products will more than likely need additional structure in place, if nothing else to avoid the 20k ad group per campaign limit. There are two approaches for breaking down these larger catalogs. The first is to create multiple campaigns (possibly broken down by product type or brand) so that you can keep your bids at the ad group level. The second option is to create ad groups for each product type/ brand with targets for each individual product within that ad group. Product level bid optimization would need to be done on the target level in this second option.

No matter how you decide to segment your PLA campaigns, it is important to have a primary targeting method in mind to avoid overlapping bids. Structure provides control over the bids, which will give you the ability to affect your positioning and profitability in the long run.

James Kelly, author of this blog post, is an Ecommerce Channel Manager and Senior SEM Analyst for National Positions, an industry leading internet marketing company with over 1,000 clients around the globe including Wal-Mart, Land Rover, Club Med and Samsung. The National Positions SEM department in particular has been experiencing rapid growth by providing significant revenue increases for many small and medium size businesses.

The Top 5 APIs that PPC Advertisers Use to Rapidly Scale Online Ad Campaigns

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With various advertising channels available to PPC advertisers these days, it becomes extremely time-consuming to manage and maintain ad campaigns across multiple ad networks and accounts. Growing online ads has become a real challenge in such a fiercely competitive industry. That’s why APIs are becoming more prevalent as the next big trend that allow advertisers to save time and rapidly scale campaigns. API stands for Application Programming Interface, but what does that even mean? More importantly, how can it help you rapidly scale your online campaigns?

As it turns out, more and more sophisticated advertisers are turning to automated bid management tools, whether it be proprietary or from third-party vendors, like Marin Software or AdStage. With automated bidding in place, this allows advertisers to spend more time optimizing campaigns, and taking action on the data to scale faster. To do this with ease, advertisers access the top APIs to manage and scale their ad campaigns side by side, without having to export reports from each platform and data mine. Let’s take a look at the top 5 APIs that PPC advertisers leverage to rapidly scale their online ad campaigns:

1.  AdWords API: Google has dominated the revolutionary paid search advertising market since it launched AdWords in 2000. It’s also created several innovative tools that offers marketers a more convenient work-flow for managing and scaling profitable campaigns, such as The Conversion Optimizer, AdWords Editor, and Google’s Keyword Tool. However, while there are thousands of advertisers that only invest their digital marketing budgets on Google, there are still third-party tools, like WordStream, that cater to these advertisers because of AdWords’ intimidating and difficult to use platform. The AdWords API has proven to be quite useful for those marketers who don’t find the AdWords interface user-friendly.

2.  Bing Ads API: While Google is the top dog for paid search traffic, the top advertisers are savvy enough to realize that scaling ads beyond AdWords increases reach and overall returns from ad spend. A recent report shows that there are 153 million unique searchers on the Yahoo Bing Network and that these searchers spend 8% more than Google searchers. This means that 153 million people can only be reached through Bing Ads and will never be reached if only advertising through AdWords. This is one of the most compelling reasons why advertisers sync the two search channels up with the Bing Ads API.

3.  Facebook Ads API: Since the release of the Facebook Advertising API in 2011, Facebook has opened their API up to partner with over 260 vendors in over 45 countries. With all of the Facebook updates and lack of simplicity within the Facebook Ads self-serve platform, social advertisers have been turning to third-party solutions like AdParlor and Qwaya to successfully manage and scale their Facebook ad campaigns. Facebook’s innovation with ad formats, and their access to such valuable inventory has certainly been quite valuable to advertisers, but without the Facebook API available in user-friendly partner tools, the top advertisers would not be able to grow their campaigns and ad spend as quickly as they have.

4.  Twitter Ads API: Although still in private beta, the Twitter Ads API was released earlier this year with a few select partners. Twitter Advertising is taking off with its “pay-per-engagement” pricing model and ability to reach any industry and audience. Advertisers who are actively managing social profiles and looking for more brand awareness can do so with Twitter Advertising, which lends more followers and more syndication for tweets at scale. Online advertisers have been patiently waiting for this API to open up so they can easily measure and compare campaign performance with similar digital ad channels and automate bids accordingly.

5.  MixRank API: MixRank’s leading competitive intelligence tool allows advertisers to quickly spot their competitors’ top performing ads, keywords and placements. With the unveiling of MixRank’s API last year, we’ve seen an incredible amount of interest from advertisers who are looking to leverage competitive data to profitably scale their own campaigns. MixRank’s API can be easily integrated with your home-grown bidding solution or third-party online advertising management platforms, acting as a recommendation engine to influence bids, ad copy, keywords, and/or even placements to buy traffic on. These recommendations provide significant time savings when scaling profitable campaigns, as it eliminates over 50% in research and testing time. With the world’s largest database of online ads, MixRank’s API is versatile for all industries and markets. If you’d like to gain access to the MixRank API to leverage competitive insights with your bidding solution, sign up here.

If you’re one of the top online advertisers, you’ve probably used at least one, if not all of these APIs to manage and scale your campaigns. What makes an API highly adaptable for all of the top advertisers is when it can be leveraged in any industry for any market. These five APIs will certainly help you scale your online presence faster. And with the recommendation insights provided by MixRank’s API, you’ll be able to scale more intelligently and profitably. If you’re already leveraging a PPC bid management tool and want to scale your campaigns more intelligently by outperforming the competition, learn how with the MixRank API.  Sign up today.

Which Super Hero Would Your Online Marketing Strategy Be? The PPC Optimization Edition

Pay per click (PPC) ads aren’t successful over night, and as you know from our last post in this series, a few online advertising strategies or super heroic powers can be used to quickly optimize your campaigns to profitability. If you thought optimization strategies for PPC campaigns were boring and menial tasks think again, because you might be using these extraordinary powers in your daily routine.

The PPC Optimization Edition

Here are a few of our favorite X-Men characters and their powers that can be used for optimizing PPC campaigns. Tell us in the comments section below which character’s powers has given you the most performance lift when optimizing campaigns.

Wolverine: Campaign Segmentation

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The Super Power: Wolverine possesses retractable claws within each forearm. They can cut through practically any known solid material, segmenting metals, woods, and even stone into pieces. His abilities are similar to campaign segmentation, which is the process of breaking up your campaigns by network, location, or device. Wolverine’s ability to heal from any wound, disease or toxin at an accelerated rate is just another signal of proof that sharpening Wolverine’s powers of campaign segmentation can rapidly bring your poorly performing campaigns back from the dead.

How to Own It: Segmenting campaigns by network is the easiest way to exercise your inner Wolverine. Search and Display are two very different types of advertising channels, and should be measured and accounted for differently. To segment an existing campaign, you can visit the AdWords campaign settings and edit the “Type” of campaign. In Bing Ads, it’s a bit trickier to segment by network, but it absolutely can be done at the Ad group level under Advanced Settings in the “Ad distribution” field. If you’re already segmenting by network, wield your Wolverine claws with a more advanced strategy: segment by location or device. When segmenting by location or device, this allows you to create more relevant ad copy for the location or ad extensions for the particular device and gives you the control to set bids higher for strategic markets or devices with smaller screens.

Storm: Dayparting

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The Super Power: Storm is one of the most influential mutants on the planet, with the power to manipulate the weather. Her precise control over the atmosphere allows her to create special weather effects such has whirlwinds, humidity, precipitation, lighting, and atmospheric pressure. Just like the weather, your ads’ performance changes throughout the day. In order to control that performance in your favor, create a Storm moment with dayparting.

How to Own It: In order for this power to work in your favor, you’ll need to have some data from your existing ads or keywords so you can see what hours of the days are getting the most clicks or acquiring the most conversions. To analyze the hour by hour trends in AdWords, go to the Dimensions tab at the Ad group level and make sure to open the View: Hour of day report. In Bing Ads, you can view the same report by visiting the Reports tab, and selecting the Show: Hour of day report. Now that you’re equipped with the right data to control the weather of your ads, create a Storm by adjusting the Schedule settings at the Ad group level.

Morph: Dynamic Creative

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The Super Power: Morph, as his name suggests, is a shape shifter and can morph his physical appearance and voice to resemble any person or object he chooses. His ability to alter his form is similar to the way advertisers can use dynamic creatives to instantly change the ad copy for more relevancy to the audience. Morph also has limited telepathic abilities, allowing him the ability to read minds, similar to the way dynamic keyword insertion can automatically insert the keyword that’s on a person’s mind.

How to Own It: In order to perfect the powers of Morph, you’ll need to use dynamic creatives. You can either use dynamic text or dynamic keyword insertion for your ads. The way dynamic text works if you want to make changes to many of your ads without having to edit them all of them manually. Dynamic keyword insertion is when your ad automatically uses the keyword that was queried in your ad. There are many types of dynamic insertion tags you can use in your headlines, description lines, and display URLs, such as {Keyword:text}, {param1:text}, and {param2:text}. If you’re not already Morph-ing your ads and want to find out how powerful and efficient this strategy can be for your business, Morph your ads and use dynamic creatives in AdWords or Bing Ads.

Have you used these super powers when running your online ad campaigns? Let me know in the comments which character’s powers you’ve used in the past, and how you were able to own it to optimize your campaigns.

Live Webinar: The PPC Advertiser’s Guide to Creative Testing

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We recently partnered with ReTargeter, one of the most popular retargeting and audience targeting solutions, for a free webinar next week.  As online advertising is becoming fiercely competitive, it’s never too early or too late to start testing new ad creative that will generate more clicks, traffic, and conversions.

 

The live event takes place on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11am PT / 2pm ET.

 

Join this live webinar, as MixRank’s Ilya Lichtenstein and ReTargeter’s Caroline Watts walk you though how to implement this optimization strategy and how the the top advertisers use it to enhance performance with any campaign.

 

In this webinar you’ll learn:

 

Why your current campaigns are losing money and how to bring them back to life.

The elements that the top advertisers test to drive 3x more clicks from their campaigns

The most commobn mistake when split testing ad creative that will waste thousands of dollars on unprofitable impressions

How to instantly find case studies of real ad creative split tests from your top competitors

Examples of the top advertisers’ ad creative tests and how to learn from their successes

How to execute a methodical & statistically significant creative test: know when to pause the losing creative

 

After the presentation, there will be a live Q&A session in which our presenters will answer the attendees’ questions.

 

Space is limited, so make sure to register now!

 

3 Last Minute Holiday Campaign Tips to Reach Those Last Minute Shoppers

With the biggest holiday shopping season almost nearing to an end, we’ve compiled some last minute campaign strategies for you to reach those last minute shoppers.  Before the year ends, secure a spike in revenue over the next several days with these quick and simple last minute tips for your holiday campaigns:

 

1.  Increase sales with the last minute shoppers

Tweak your ad copy to make it more relevant to the holiday shopper. Update your ad copy to have a holiday spin on it and attract the last minute shoppers. “Arrives by 12/24” or “Last Minute Stocking Stuffers” are great examples of how you can spice up your ad copy to entice those last minute shoppers to click and purchase.

 

2.  Increase clicks and engaged viewers from your ads

Your ad design and copy is what compels a user to click or not. Since you’ve already tweaked your ad copy with the above strategy, try varying up the design a little.  Because we’re on the homestretch of the holidays, no need to re-invent the wheel here.  A simple A/B test with the color of the background or the color of the call-to-action button on your banner ads could be the difference between profit and breaking even this holiday season.

 

3.  Outperform your competitors on price for your most popular items

You already know what products account for 80% of your revenue.  Find these same or similar products from competing advertisers on MixRank.com to see their pricing model.  Based on what you discover, consider pricing your products similarly or offering free shipping or another perk with a purchase. 

 

With MixRank’s easy-to-use search bar, you can instantly research the competitive market for your products, without spending hours mining through your competitors’ landing pages for the same data. To get started, gain access to MixRank Professional with your risk-free trial here.

Which Super Hero Would Your Online Marketing Strategy Be? The Display Advertising Edition

Successful online advertising professionals possess extreme optimization knowledge and strategies that we can easily associate with super heroic powers. In this new blog series, we’ll take a look at various online marketing strategies, and how they emulate the extraordinary powers of your favorite super heroes.

 

The Display Advertising Edition

The display advertising strategies edition are just a few to kick off the series.  Let me know in the comments which character’s powers you’ve had the most success with for your display campaigns and how you were able to own them.

 

Professor X: Audience Targeting

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The Super Power: Professor X is an incredibly powerful telepath capable of astral projection, mind control, illusion casting, memory manipulation, and psychic blasts.  If you’re participating in audience targeting, your strategy is comparable to the world’s most powerful telepath.  As Professor X listens to people’s thoughts and impacts their decisions with his powers, audience targeting similarly allows you to serve ad impressions to specific individuals from your target audience, giving your messaging the power of astral projection, psychic blasts and mind control.

 

How To Own It:  If you’re not currently honing Professor X’s powers of audience targeting, you can look into audience measurement tools like Quantcast or Core Audience that can help you understand what type of audience segments you can divide your visitors into.  Once you have full knowledge of these segments, create custom messaging for the various audiences that will be sure to persuade decisions and viewpoints.  This will help your campaigns and give you the optimal edge that salutes you into the same super hero class as Professor X.

 

Cyclops: Retargeting

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The Super Power:  Cyclops projects a concentrated beam of ruby-colored concussive force from his eyes and can project his power onto those he sees.  As it turns out, Cyclops and retargeting are two peas in a pod.  Just like Cyclops can project his forces onto those he can see, retargeting allows you to serve ad impressions to people who have visited your site.  These ad impressions are very pinpointed and focused towards individuals who you “see” on your site.

 

How To Own It:  To spark your inner Cyclops, set up your retargeting campaign with some easy-to-use tools like AdWords remarketing, AdRoll, Bizo, ReTargeter, TellApart or Criteo.  TellApart and Criteo technologies actually create dynamic campaigns generated by the product page the visitor was last browsing (suitable for big retailers or travel sites with multiple products).  Alternatively, I’ve had positive experiences with AdWords and AdRoll, which are pay-as-you-go tools.  So, grab some dark shades like Cyclops and start projecting your own concentrated beam of retargeted ads by adding your choice platform’s tracking code to your site.  This equips you with abilities to track your visitors, conversions, and target those visitors who dropped off in the conversion funnel.

 

Rogue: Competitive Intelligence for Display Ads

 

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The Super Power: Rogue’s competencies make her very strong as she absorbs powers, memories, and personalities through skin-to-skin contact.  Prolonged contact with others can cause her to permanently absorb their traits and potentially kill them.  Many have described her strengths as the ability to steal the enemy’s powers and use these forces against them.  This is exactly what competitive intelligence for display ads can do for your marketing campaigns.

 

How To Own It:  If you’re like Rogue, you’re already using MixRank to spy on your competitors’ display ads, placements, and landing pages.  Now all you need to do is absorb this powerful data to your advantage.  Similar to Rogue’s prolonged contact capabilities, MixRank provides powerful insights that you can use over long periods of time for display advertising, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, conversion optimization, and much more.  So whether you want to create more compelling ad copy, scale out on keywords, optimize for winning landing pages or generate new traffic through link building, MixRank’s competitive intelligence data will certainly gear you up to exert Rogue’s wondrous abilities of absorbing your competitors’ skills, powers and traits.

 

Have any online marketing strategies that are related to these super powers? Let me know in the comments which character’s powers you’ve used in the past, and how you were able to own it.

 

Thanks for reading! If you liked this post and want to read more posts from this series, follow me on Twitter or add me to your G+ circles for updates.

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:

Mothersdaybannerads

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:

 

Keyword

# of Ads

Mothers day cards

342

Mothers day crafts

301

Mothers day greetings

276

Homemade mothers day gift ideas

273

Mothers day crafts for kids

269 

 

 

Least competitive keywords for Mother’s Day ads:

Keyword

# of Ads

Mothers day gifts

8

Mothers day gift basket

9

Mothers day crafts from kids

10

Mothers day graphics

10

Mothers day clipart

10

 

 

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.

 

 

Social vs. Mobile: Where Should You Invest Your Advertising Budget

As new online advertising channels emerge like social and mobile, don’t get left behind. Keep up with the times and spend your budget where it makes most sense for your business. If your company does not have an unlimited marketing budget, you’ll want to make sure that any budget you do have is spent wisely on the most appropriate and effective advertising channel for your target market.

 

Whether you’re new to the online advertising world or have active campaigns running on social and mobile, this blog post will give you pointers on how to best take advantages of both channels. First thing you need to know, social and mobile analytics are simply not comparable. Although both could be used for branding, awareness, or increasing conversions, the click-through rates and conversion rates will rarely lend similarities. Why? Social ads are generally more top-of-the-funnel, similar to display ads. Users engage social channels to connect with their friends, peers, and interests rather than to purchase or shop around. On the other hand, mobile ads align with search in that they are closer to the actual purchase. Consumers query directly for keywords expecting related search results.

 

Given what we know, consider benchmarking your social ad performance against your display ad performance. For mobile ads, compare analytics to the search ads you are currently running. Below you’ll see some of the advantages and tips for both social and mobile platforms.

 

Social Ads:

With over 800 million active users on Facebook, it has become the number 2 most visited site after Google. If you’re one of those 800 million users, you’ve most likely seen the ads that are on Facebook on the right hand side when you log in. What has been your experience with the ads? For me, I rarely ever click through on the ads. However, I see do them, know they are there, and even read through them as I do with my news feed. So, we suggest running awareness and branding campaigns on Facebook to get your brand out to your target market. Remember to keep your social ads fresh by rotating the image periodically and you could even try including a “Like” button to help camouflage the ad similar to the example below:

Fb_ads

Facebook is just one of the few social sites you can target ad campaigns on. Other social sites you can consider advertising on if it fits your market include Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Mobile Ads:

Gartner predicts that the global smartphone and media tablet market will be more than 1B units by 2015, with 318M smartphones and 775M Media Tablets.

 

The following table is from their report, Emerging Technology Analysis: Mobile Business Intelligence, 13 July 2011, ID:G00214124 by Bhavish Sood, Andreas Bitterer, James Richardson.

Mobileusage

According to this Google study, the length of characters in mobile queries are similar to desktop queries.

Mobilequeries

Given what we know from above, mobile isn’t going away and queries haven’t changed. So, that tells us, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you already have successful search campaigns, you know what keywords perform well. Why not bid on the same successful keywords from your search campaigns, and use the exact same text ads? When setting this up, you’ll want to separate your mobile campaigns so you can bid higher on keywords to ensure your ad has a higher position. Since mobile handheld screens are so tiny, there is no guaranteeing that your ad is even seen if it’s position is too low.

 

To understand whether you should invest your online advertising efforts in Social or mobile ads, you’ll absolutely need to know and understand your target market.  Since you’re all professional marketers, it’s safe to assume you know this already. But consider this: is your target market actively on social sites or handheld devices? For example, if you’re advertising for an elderly home and your target market includes senior citizens, do you find it likely for them to be on Facebook or surfing the net on handheld mobile phones? Knowing who you’re targeting is an obvious pre-step before building any type of marketing campaign, so do your research!

 

Like all fields, there’s no defined ranking system to describe the best way to advertise. It all depends! However, if you know your target market and employ the data you have from previous ad campaigns, you can precisely target the right audience on social and strategically bid on mobile to make the most out of your ad spend.  Also, in case you missed last week’s purchasing events, Facebook just bought two incredibly huge mobile products: Instagram and Tagtile. I would bet on the convergence of mobile and social ads in the near future.

 

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jana_fung