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Ten Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Strategies to Grow Your Audience

search star volo partnerOur partners at Searchstar are a PPC and digital media agency based in Bath. They're one of the leading independent agencies in the country, and work with clients large and small across sectors.

Paid search campaigns can be intimidating to many online retailers and merchants confronted with them for the first time. That's why we've got PPC experts Searchstar to give us their top 10 tips for creating really effective campaigns which increase your website views and boost your conversion. If you haven't already, you should check out our Web Best Practice series, including great SEO tips for organic search ranking.

Read on for the most effective PPC campaign tips!

1. Account Structure

Often it’s tempting to throw a load of similar keywords into a single ad group, but that sometimes leads to lower quality scores as your ad copy can’t be relevant to all those keywords. Implementing a granular structure for your PPC campaign will ensure each keyword has highly relevant ad copy associated with it. This can often result in having lots of ad groups, however it means that you’ll be maximising your ad relevance and CTR (click-through-rate), which should in turn increase your quality score. You may even choose to have a single keyword in each ad group.

2. Keyword Selection

You’ll no doubt have an idea which keywords you think will perform best for your company. However, using search terms to break out longer tailed keywords is a good way of keeping costs down. If a specific search term is driving lots of conversions, you should look to add it as a keyword. It’s also important to monitor if your keywords are proving too expensive. If a keyword’s CPC (cost-per-click) is very high, and your conversion rate is poor, chances are you’re throwing money down the drain. So even though you may assume a keyword will drive sales, you need to keep an eye on your cost/conversion and ROI to ensure you’re turning a profit.

3. Ad Copy

Split testing ad copy can be a drag, but having better ad copy will improve your quality score and help you achieve higher positions and cheaper clicks. Including any offers you have and including a call to action is a great way to get higher CTR and hopefully then convert that click to a sale. Planning your campaigns based around seasonality and different promotions is also a great way to ensure CTR is as high as possible. It also goes without saying that ads should all be expanded text ads by now.

Google PPC campaign

4. Ad Extensions

Ensure ALL appropriate ad extensions are set up across the account. As a minimum this should include enhance sitelinks, call out extensions and structured snippets. These will help your CTR and ensure you get as much page “real estate” as possible. Call extensions should also be a given (as long as you can take customer calls), and location extensions can also be useful but may not always be suitable. Seller ratings are also a great way of increasing CTR, as the stars really help your ad to stand out. Google are constantly adding new extensions for advertisers to use, so always keep an eye on the Ad Extensions tab to see if there are any new ones.

5. Geolocation Settings

Geolocation settings are often overlooked but offer a great chance to ensure you’re focussing your spend on the right locations. You can pull reports and see which locations convert best and set bid adjustments accordingly. There are lots of different ways to target locations such as by city, region or even postcode. If you have physical shops it would make sense to mainly target people who actually live within a reasonable distance of those shops, similarly if you offer a service and can’t do work in a specific area you should exclude it.

6. Ad Schedules

Ad schedules allow you to focus bidding on certain times of the day. For example, if you receive mostly phone calls and can’t take calls outside of working hours you may wish to pause your ads overnight. Or if you’re trying to drive foot traffic you’ll want to ensure you’re showing near the top during opening hours. You can also analyse your traffic and check when people are converting best. If lunchtime has a higher conversion rate for a campaign, then it’s definitely worth increasing bids for that time. It’s always important to refer to cost/conversion and conversion rate though. Sometimes it can be tempting to switch off campaigns overnight because you may be getting less traffic, but if you’re getting cheap conversions at those times you might as well keep pushing your ads.

Used in conjunction with geolocation settings, ad schedules can allow you to control precisely where and when your ads show.

Merchant PPC campaign tips

7. Device Targeting

More and more traffic is now coming through mobile, to the point that there is now more search on mobile than on desktop. Ensuring you have a mobile strategy in place is vital. At first glance it may seem that your mobile site converts worse than desktop and so you should bid right down on mobile traffic, however it’s possible that the initial mobile search is being followed up on desktop. Google have made great strides in improving their cross device conversions, but even ignoring these it’s fair to assume that clicks through mobile ads will be propping up conversions on desktop. So it’s important to bear this in mind when making device level bids. If mobile is providing no conversions at all then you should look to turn it down, however if you are seeing decent results it’s worth ensuring that you’re showing near the top, especially as mobile clicks are still generally cheaper than on desktop.

It’s also vital now that your mobile site is as good as possible, as Google penalises sites which aren’t responsive and you’ll be missing out on lots of conversion if your mobile site doesn’t work properly. If you have a checkout ensure that on mobile it’s easy to use, and where possible set up one-click buying.

8. Remarketing

Remarketing is a must for all companies. If you don’t run any remarketing you’re essentially giving up on converting a user after one visit. Most users won’t convert on their first visit, so it’s imperative to try and follow them up. This can be done in a couple of ways. The most common way is through display remarketing. For display remarketing to work as well as it can, having great creative is really useful. Although it may require an initial financial outlay, it will result in a higher CTR and allows you to use your remarketing as a proper branding tool, rather than just a message reminding them of your PPC ad.

Remarketing for search is also a very useful tool, which allows you to bid up on previous visitors to the site who are searching for your keywords again. You can use this to ensure you’re in top position for those premier users who are more likely to convert.

9. CRO

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) isn’t necessarily something you can do through AdWords or Bing Ads, but you can use them to help identify where CRO is required. If certain campaigns have low conversion rates it’s worth analysing the landing page and identifying areas that could be improved. Typically this could involve improving the route to purchase, or making things such as price or delivery costs clearer.

10. Identify Waste

Whilst you should always be looking for ways to drive more traffic and conversions, it’s arguably more important to make sure you’re not wasting your money. Many of the points above such as device bidding, ad schedules and geolocation settings can be used to minimise waste, and it’s vital to keep on top of your CPAs for all your ad groups. It’s no good revisiting your AdWords in 6 months and finding you’ve wasted thousands of pounds on keywords that don’t convert.

Managing your PPC takes time and so if you haven’t got the resource to manage it, it’s definitely worth looking into hiring an agency.

By Matthieu Oliver

Have you tried running PPC campaigns for your business in the past, or think we've missed something out? Leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you. If you're looking for expert ecommerce advice alongside an award winning platform for your online business, contact us.

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