Using Dimensions in AdWords to Optimize Campaigns

Google AdWords needn’t be difficult to manage and you don’t need expensive tools like WordStream nor Marin if you’re a small company or have a small budget under $2,000 per month. AdWords offers several amazing tools out of the box that are simple to use and provide great optimization benefits. Below are a few easy dimensions AdWords provides that can help you spend your money more efficiently.

adwords dimensions

AdWords Dimension: Hour of Day

Since you set AdWords budgets by day often times clients run out of money before the day is done. Now, AdWords does have the option of spreading your budget more evenly throughout the timeframe you select but even then it is possible to miss out on qualified visitors. By seeing what times of day searchers not only click on your ads but also go through and convert you are able to adjust your budget for a more optimized timeframe. For instance, on one client’s account we found that PPC conversions only happened over the span of nine to three. So we adjusted the budgets and our Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) sank dramatically as a result!

AdWords Dimension: Day of Week

Similar to Hour of Day the Day of Week dimension allows you to target your spend even more effectively. Knowing the exact days that searchers click and convert more allows you to target those days only or perhaps spend less on those days. This helps further reduce your CPA and optimizes your overall monthly spend.

AdWords Dimension: Geographic

If you are a nationwide brand it is often tempting to target the entire United States with your PPC campaigns. However different geographies convert better than others. The Geographic dimension allows you to see State, Region, Metro, City and Most Specific Location data. Additionally you can also see if a searchers was physically in a certain location or if they were just searching terms about the location. This may help with travel, mortgage, or other companies that serve customers outside their local geography.

Use these great reports to better optimize your PPC budget and drive more conversions!

Pay Per Click Strategy vs Management

In the last week we’ve had two separate clients remark to us about their displeasure with the way they pay for Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising and the lack of PPC Strategy. Side note, we do not handle their PPC (yet). Below is an outline of what came from our discussions.

PPC Management

When these clients described the way they were sold the management of their PPC campaigns it was all the same. “We’ll ‘manage’ your PPC account for X% of your spend” was the common synopsis. The problem here is that it really only includes the “management” part and little to no “strategy”. Both clients were frustrated because all they received was a report showing the numbers. Impressions, Clicks, Quality Scores and Conversions are all well and good, but how are you optimizing the account?

PPC Strategy

A number of our clients have moved to a more strategic model and away from simply “Management”. Management is the easy part, which is why most agencies have a junior-level resource watching over your account. It’s a margin game! So break free of the game and start making strategic optimizations to your PPC account on your own. It all begins by developing your initial PPC Strategy, by evaluating opportunity keywords, developing relevant ad copy, and selecting the most relevant and conversion-focused landing page. This is where a company like Bluefin Strategy comes in. We have provided strategies for many of our clients who then can easily manage their own accounts day-to-day or we work with them to get a management platform in place. Again, the management part is easy, it’s more about what strategic changes have to take place in order to take the account to the next level!

Don’t settle for simple “PPC Management”. If you’re still paying a percentage of your PPC spend and getting nothing out of it then it’s time to shift your campaigns into full gear with a sound PPC Strategy & Optimization plan. Start targeting your search audience at the right time with the right message today and see more conversions tomorrow!

Hidden Pay Per Click Engagement

Conversions are king, that’s for sure, but what about when a pay per click (PPC) keyword isn’t getting conversions? Do you pause it? Some PPC management tools out there will focus on “Costly Keywords” but don’t take into consideration other site engagement metrics. But there’s more to PPC optimization than simply pausing or adding keywords!

PPC Conversion Optimization

Again, if we have a website and we are running PPC it is all about getting visitors to convert. There are a myriad of things involved in PPC optimization, but we’ll assume for this article that your keywords and ad copy are perfect (ha!). First off, make sure you have AdWords conversion tracking in place on your conversion page (eg: Thank You, Order Confirmation, Articles…). This conversion pixel should be on the same page that triggers your Google Analytics goal (because you have goal tracking set up… right??). Once tracking, you can easily see, in both Google AdWords and Google Analytics, which keywords are driving conversions. But now lets take a look at those keywords that aren’t.

PPC Site Engagement Metrics

If some keywords are not converting it is time to determine whether or not the pause them. But don’t just pause them if they aren’t converting, make sure you are pausing them because visitors are not engaging. Now, a full ‘engagement’ is a conversion, but visitors can engage with your site in other ways. We have mentioned in this column previously the importance of what we call site engagement metrics. Our focus here is simple, did a visitor try to engage with the site at all? These metrics are simply Bounce Rate, Average Time on Site and Pages per Session. These engagement metrics help you evaluate whether a keyword is good at driving an engaged audience, but maybe there is a slight alteration to a landing page or steps that would help that audience cross the finish line.
There is so much more that goes into this analysis, but just be sure you aren’t pausing keywords simply because they haven’t generated a conversion. If they are driving an audience who is looking at pages and staying a while, then perhaps there are slight changes that can be done to that funnel as opposed to selecting all new keywords. So while conversion is king, site engagement rules the castle!

Digital Strategy on Vacation

Bluefin Strategy came to be because of our love for fishing, well that and it was an available domain name. Never the less tomorrow Bluefin Strategy embarks on a much needed tuna fishing vacation. While our minds drift to the thoughts of fresh sashimi and tuna salad we must first make sure all our ducks are in a row on the work front. We all need time away and so here’s a quick guide to remind you of things to take care of before you power off and how marketing automation can keep your mind focused on the beach!

Pay Per Click (PPC) Automation

If you run pay per click advertising make sure that you set up any rules that you may have otherwise been doing manually. Turning off and on keywords, raising bids at certain times, and many more tasks can be automated through AdWords’ automated rules. Also, take one last look through your keywords and ads to make sure you aren’t targeting anything vague. Vacation is not the time to be testing out brand new ideas!

Content Strategy, Blog Posting & Social Media Scheduling

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t publish content! And no, I don’t recommend posting content after a few Alabama Slammers. Most Content Management Systems allow for future postings, so you can write the content piece before you leave and schedule it to post when you’re gone. The downside to this is that you’re posting something while you’re gone and technically “something” could be incorrect. Well, that’s why you triple-checked the content before clicking “schedule post”, right? Everything I just mentioned, do it all the same for your Social Media posts as well (NOTE: Many CMS’s automatically push new blog or page content to Social Media platforms, does yours?).

Email Marketing Scheduling

Combine the powers of automated rules and content scheduling and you have the tools available to you in most email marketing platforms. It’s time to do a double-check and make sure the messages are correct, in a particular order, and all links point to the right location. Any automated emails through forms or CRM’s should also be double-checked (eg: did you properly get submissions yesterday and today?).

Gone Fishin’

There isn’t really much to do with Display, nor do you have much need for auto reports from your analytics platform. Go enjoy your vacation and have peace of mind that you took all the strategic steps to ensure your web strategy keeps on truckin’ while you do… well, whatever it is you do on vacation!

Big Data and why you won’t use it, yet

Big data was going to revolutionize your marketing efforts. But according to an eMarketer report only 5% of businesses say that it is fundamentally changing the way they do business. How could that be? We have all the data we would ever need to micro-target our customers with the right message at the right time! The problem is lack of strategy and lack of understanding of how to actually use this wealth of knowledge. Above all else, many businesses do not have a data collection engine set up to track audience behavior and customer preferences. But fear not, help is here. Below are some common pitfalls and how you can start using Big Data to grow your business.

No Strategy, no gains

In “The Art of War” Sun Tzu talks at great length about devising a strategy to defeat an enemy. While the tactics may change from battle to battle, the fundamentals do not. Having an in-depth digital strategy allows you to focus your messaging and target the right customers but much of the data either has yet to be unlocked OR just isn’t being collected. For instance, with Google Analytics you can easily see where visitors come from. You can then see which states or cities perform the best OR perhaps which cities buy particular products. With this data you can retarget those customers with messaging around promotions or sales for said products. That sounds good in theory, but you have to sit down and map it out. You need to say “For Miami, FL visitors we want to show rain jackets” and “For Denver, CO visitors we want to show heavy coats”. But Big Data goes beyond that. What time of year do we show these messages? What about to customers who have already purchased a rain jacket or heavy coat? How long ago did they purchase? When do customers typically repurchase these jackets? This is the heart of Big Data. The ability to micro-target these audiences and spot trends. But the data itself won’t do anything. You need to interpret the data and have a ready-made message to display to the audience. Many firms are not built to handle this type of strategy in addition to just not having the time. Bringing in a third party digital strategist, such as those from Bluefin Strategy, can help you develop these strategies and messaging schemes to micro-target your audience and increase your bottom line!

I don’t Understand

As I mentioned above, there is a severe lack of understanding as to what Big Data can and will do for your company. It’s not your fault, there’s a million things Big Data can provide and you need to focus on running the business. Once you have a strategy of who your targets are and what their behavior is you can begin to show the messaging. But how? Do you do it on your site? What about in banner ads? Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising? What about offline through direct mail? There are multiple channels that allow you to take advantage of this amazing data source but understanding how to utilize them is paramount to success. The best strategy in the world will fall flat on its face if you’re not using the right medium to get the message out. Just as a financial advisor gives you investment options, a digital strategist can help you with placement options to ensure your message reaches the right audience at the right time.

So why won’t you use this, yet?

You will, eventually. Many businesses need to collect the proper data first. So step one is ensuring your web analytics is setup to collect the right data about your visitors and customers. Step two is to devise your strategy by developing audience segments and their needs. Step three is to develop messaging to each audience segment for various times of year or buying cycles. Step four is to implement the messaging to the audience using the mediums and tactics that make the most sense for each audience. Step five… success! It isn’t that difficult when you have the right tools and the right partners. A simple evaluation and strategy to get you started doesn’t cost much (maybe a couple thousand bucks), but it can reap huge rewards! Talk to a digital strategist to determine the most effective use of your data and to make sure you have all of the right pieces in place to thrive online!

We all need help!

Digital Marketing HelpI had a conversation with a small business the other day where after presenting them with several issues that are easily fixed on their website the marketing person responded with, “ya we know all of that”. I guess this is why so many of us keep driving the car despite the engine light shining a Texas orange glow on the dash? How is it possible that in today’s landscape a business can dismiss such easy wins? Below I will outline a few of the common issues with the digital marketing landscape and how to overcome them with a digital strategy partner.

Lack of Knowledge

Many marketers in top positions have come from the Baby Boomer generation and haven’t grown up in the digital world. This isn’t bad, it just means there’s a larger learning curve, and we always fear what we don’t know. Another thing I have seen in my career is that many marketers don’t want to rock the boat for fear of getting the ax. Therefore, they just do the same things every year and don’t worry about upsetting what might be ‘sort of’ working today. Trying small things can reap huge benefits, but the quickest is implementing web analytics on your site complete with Event Tracking and Campaign Tracking Variables included. This is all offered free by Google and has very minimal upfront cost when working with a knowledgeable small agency to implement a rock solid analytics strategy. Knowledge equals power and web analytics provides it!

Lack of Time

There are hundreds of mediums and tactics to get your marketing message out there. Just within the digital marketing world there is SEO, PPC, Email Marketing, Social Media… etc. Many marketers today have a traditional and digital mix and really don’t have the time (or so they think) to monitor all of these moving pieces. Therefore they simply dip their toe in the water or keep it out all together, meaning not much attention is being paid and the results will suffer. Once web analytics are implemented on the site automatic reports can be setup to show how your inbound marketing is performing as well as where abandonment points may be on your website. This may take a couple of hours upfront, but then the reports are ‘set it and forget it’. Yes you still have to read them, but you won’t have to dig for the data every month to see what is working and what is not. Now you can answer with certainty to the question “what is our best online marketing medium”.

Lack of Money

When you add the word ‘digital’ to anything everyone expects the price tag to jump wildly. And in many companies’ defense digital agencies have been taking advantage of them for years with high margins and outrageously padded proposals. It’s like your electrician. If he charges you $50,000 for a job and says it will take 3 weeks you say, “OK, if that’s what it takes”. The truth is that many companies can get real digital strategy help for as little as $500 a month or quarter. Obviously the greater investment the greater the return, but the point is that it doesn’t have to be an ‘all in’ approach when it comes to your digital marketing investment. Additionally, many companies often think they need to spend $60,000 or more bringing on an internal resource. The point is, for a small investment (as little as just $2,000 per year) you can have a digital partner by your side guiding your digital initiatives and ensuring that your strategy is optimized and driving conversion success!

Bringing it all together

You don’t have to save the world all alone. I personally know nothing about an electrical circuit breaker and my electrician knows nothing of web analytics. But I also know that when I need an electrician I go for a small shop with a person I trust rather than some large regional company. My needs are smaller and therefore I want someone on that level. Hiring a digital strategy company is no different. On the flip side, larger companies can benefit from bringing on smaller agencies with lower costs for better resources. Many large agencies hire young kids out of college, so you’re paying top dollar for junior talent. You want a firm that understands that you do not have the knowledge, the time, nor the resources to do this on your own. Bringing on a digital marketing agency helps you focus on what you’re good at and lets them focus on what they are good at, driving website success!