Archive for ‘Campaign Management’

3 Basic Tweaks to Improve Your Paid Search Ad Copy & Increase CTR

By March 27th, 2014

Paid search involves a million moving parts, but today we want to call out ad copy as a particularly important aspect. Good ad copy is convincing, drives click-through rates, and makes your ad stand out relative to your competitors. All this can lead to better quality scores and lower costs.

However, if you’ve ever stared at the blinking cursor with a case of writer’s block or wished you had more time to test and optimize, you’re not alone. Many search marketers are guilty of neglecting their ad copy from time to time. Even search marketers who take the time to fully test different ad copy and decide on a winner may not be refreshing it as often as needed to continually combat ad fatigue.

In this post, I’ll walk through some basic methods to increase your ad copy CTR and make it stand out:

1. Use Your Value Proposition - What’s the reason why searchers should visit your website? What benefits do you offer and why should people choose you against your competitors?  In the example ad below, the value proposition is clear and straightforward, offering people a way to create a custom website quickly and easily. Someone looking for this service might be enticed by the 100+ design selections offered and simplicity of the “3 Easy Steps” messaging.

paid search value proposition

2. Capitalize the First Letter of Every Word - There’s evidence all over the web that capitalizing the first letter of every word in your ad will help increase CTR. Consider the two ads below, and it’s clear to see which one stands out more.

capitalize paid search ad copy

capitalize ad copy in paid search

3. Use a Strong Call to Action – What should people do after reading your ad? A strong call to action will instruct searchers on the next step they should take, and create a sense of urgency for them to click on the ad. For example, if you were selling life insurance, “Get a Free Quote Today” is a call to action telling searchers to visit the site right away for a quote.

paid search call to action

Keep in mind that optimizing for a boost in CTR doesn’t mean that the conversions will magically appear. Just because you create outstanding ad copy to make a searcher click doesn’t mean they will convert. Search marketers need to look at all these different elements in a holistic way and use data to evaluate how effective their ad copy is in terms of both click-through rate and conversion rate. For example, if you are driving a CTR of 10% and generating new traffic, but bounce rates are high and conversions are low, then chances are your ad copy isn’t relevant to the landing page you’re driving them to and needs to be re-evaluated.

Good luck, and happy ad copy writing!

3 Essential Ways to Optimize for Online and Offline Conversions

By January 28th, 2014

Brands that seamlessly tie offline conversions to online events are positioned for success, but it’s easier said than done!

Most businesses have a wide variety of customer touch points: website visits, social media interactions, phone calls, email, proposals, quotes, surveys, tech support, ordering, delivery, you name it. While it’s terrific to have so many diverse touch points, they can be a source of great complexity for digital advertisers.

A gap between the online and offline can result in an incomplete picture of paid search performance, as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the keywords and creative that drove those conversions. On top of that, not all interactions result in revenue conversions. The inability to define unique revenue values for each event and tie them to a single customer and keyword results in a bidding strategy that ignores lifetime customer value and fails to calculate optimal keyword bids.

So how can search marketers bridge the gap? Here are three tips for optimizing for online and offline conversions:

  1. Track customers with order IDs. Assigning order IDs allows advertisers to bridge the gap between their data warehouses or CRM systems and online customer activities. Search marketers are not only able to attribute offline conversion and revenue back to the paid click and subsequent online event, but they can also modify attributed revenue based on refunds, cancellations, and other downstream revenue adjustments.
  2. Optimize for multiple conversion events. Different consumers will represent different value to your business. For example, a visitor who requests a quote may be worth more than a visitor who signs up for a newsletter. The flexibility to assign a unique value to non-revenue conversion events in this scenario enables advertisers to measure the true value of each visitor and keyword to their business. Tying these events to publisher data allows search marketers to react quickly to top-of-the-funnel activity, and measure the impact of website engagement on downstream revenue and lifetime customer value.
  3. Calculate optimal bids with portfolio optimization. Maximizing conversions or revenue across a set budget requires making spend tradeoffs between keywords within a portfolio. Calculating optimal bids for all keywords simultaneously enables search marketers to maximize online and offline conversions and revenue across their account while taking into consideration business goals that vary across campaigns, products, services, and other business requirements. This approach to bidding requires an automated solution that can capitalize on new keyword opportunities without an expensive “learning” period.

These tips are adapted from our white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. It’s a must-read for any advertiser in the financial services sector, and we also recommend it for marketers operating in a particularly competitive market.

To Every Bid There is a Season: 4 Quick Tips for Seasonal Optimization in Paid Search

By January 23rd, 2014

The holidays are over, but seasonality should be a consideration for search marketers all year round.

Seasonal shifts in consumer behavior influence paid search performance, and create a constantly changing bidding landscape. Fortunately, this opens up some great opportunities to grow both conversions and revenue. With a little effort to manage seasonal data and constant promotional changes, optimizing for seasonality can be an excellent way to edge out the competition.

Let’s take a look at 4 quick tips for seasonal optimization in paid search:

  1. 1) Schedule bid adjustments based on forecasted performance. We recommend deploying boost schedules, where bids are increased or decreased for specific time periods, in order to optimize for fluctuations in conversion rate. Assigning individual boost schedules across products and services provides the flexibility to bid aggressively or dampen bids for in-season and off-season products and services. Also utilize a time-of-day or day-of-week strategy based on significant conversion rate trends in order to optimize campaigns for cyclical effects on consumer behavior.
  2. 2) Factor conversion latency into bid calculations. Depending on your business, the time between an initial click and the eventual conversion and revenue can range from the same session to several months. In order to optimize bids using a complete picture of ROI, it’s best to find an automated way to exclude the most recent days from bid calculations. Account for latent conversions and revenue by dynamically extending or shortening a rolling date exclusion window based on your business needs.
  3. 3) Identify and exclude outlying data. Advertisers occasionally experience atypical increases and decreases in conversion rate due to promotions and competitor activity. Use a platform with multi-layer filters and alerts to quickly identify these changes and manage by exception. A platform will make it easy to exclude specific dates and date ranges from bid calculations across campaigns, products, and services – saving you a lot of time and hassle.
  4. 4) Schedule campaigns to align with products and promotions. Make sure to update your ad creative to reflect seasonal promotions and expand campaigns to align with seasonal interest. A platform can be helpful in providing a streamlined workflow and automation for these tasks. By effectively executing on your promotional calendar, you’ll be better able to engage with your audience about in-season products and services.

These best practices were adapted from a recent Marin Software white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. With a focus on the financial services industry, the paper is a good read for anyone running paid search in a highly competitive vertical. It includes tips on efficient budget allocation, online/offline conversions, building brand equity, and adapting to changing business requirements.

Marin Software and BlueKai Team Up to Announce Audience Connect

By December 12th, 2013

For as long as we can remember, the keyword has been the fundamental anchor of the search marketing industry. Through the keyword, search marketers have historically “pulled” customers from the discovery to the consideration phase by trying to map a message (creative) to their search intent (query). Through this process, seasoned search marketers have created massive databases of “intent,” which have allowed them to fine-tune messages and investments based on the “intentions” most likely to drive the ideal ROI.

Intention based marketing through search keywords has been the quintessential strategy in any serious marketer’s toolkit for some time now. But with all it’s benefits, it’s clear to see that the keyword does have its flaws when used in isolation.

While keyword-based marketing tells us a wealth of information about potential intentions, it tells us nothing about the quality or lifetime value of the customer. Is the searcher a current customer or a potential customer? Are they likely to purchase low margin or high margin products? What types of products are they looking for when they come to your website from a branded term? And what is the potential ROI of the searcher one month, six months, two years from now? The search marketing industry has long been seeking a solution to answer these questions, and a way to run search campaigns targeting both intentions and audiences at the same time.

Today, Marin announced Audience Connect, the digital marketing industry’s first ever keyword and audience based marketing solution. Audience Connect is made possible through a partnership with BlueKai, the only independent SaaS solution for data management, analysis and activation in marketing. Through BlueKai, Audience Connect unites advertisers’ first- and third-party audience data with keyword intelligence. It pulls from over 40 thousand attributes of audience data across 400 million profiles, including intent data, demographics, and behavioral insights.

Advertisers can now target more effectively, customize creative and optimize bidding by specific audiences for search campaigns as well as display, video, analytics, native advertising and site optimization. Audience Connect also makes it possible for advertisers to build truly customer-centric programs across all digital marketing channels.

Over the coming months, Marin looks forward to continuing to help our customers reach their ROI objectives while offering them new capabilities through Audience Connect. These include:

  1. Audience Analytics – Ability to combine the power of your users with audience insight, purchase intent and demographics to maximize ROI
  2. Look-alike Modeling for Audience Expansion – Ability to expand audiences to find more high-value customers, based on keyword search and online browsing history.
  3. Intent-Based Retargeting – Ability activate new performance-driven audiences across search, social and display channels in one interface
  4. Audience-Centric Bidding on Search Terms - Customer-centric bid optimization to deliver high-value conversions by audience segment

For more information on Audience Connect and our BlueKai partnership, please check out our press release.

Croud Keeps Quality Scores High with Marin Software

By September 27th, 2013

Croud Marin Software PPC Quality Score SEM GoogleFrom time to time Google makes changes to the algorithms that calculate Quality Score. If those changes result in a drop in Quality Score, advertisers are negatively impacted; position is likely to drop and harm the click through rate. Maintaining the same position will likely result in higher CPCs, meaning fewer clicks and conversions within a given budget. Staying on top of Quality Score changes is therefore crucial, but we all know that manually running reports can be time-consuming.

Leading UK agency Croud’s mission is to make digital marketing accessible to all advertisers, regardless of their size and budget. They follow a strict set of best practices designed to keep accounts in tip-top condition. To monitor Quality Score, Croud set up a series of automated alerts using Marin Software’s reporting suite. It was through these alerts that they spotted a recent change in AdWords Quality Score and assessed the impact it had on their accounts. Google does not store historical Quality Score, so without Marin, Croud would not have been able to do this without taking the time to manually record data each day.

Last week, AdWords started reporting lower Quality Scores across many clients. Brand terms and high-volume generic keywords were affected most, and in some instances the drop lasted for two days. By being alerted to this change as soon as it happened, Croud was able to optimize their account accordingly to remain as efficient as possible and manage client expectations.

Google Validates the Importance of Bridging the Online to Offline Divide

By September 16th, 2013

Marin Software, Connect, paid search, PPC, SEM, SEOIn a time where consumers are increasingly engaging with brands online, advertisers are faced with the challenge of tying conversions occurring offline, back to the online clicks and events that led to those conversions. Particularly in industries like financial services and automotive, applications and online leads result in offline verifications and approvals at brick-and-mortar locations. This disconnect between customers’ online and offline engagement results in an incomplete picture of ad performance as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the clicks and events that drove those conversions.

The requirement for this level of visibility is becoming more apparent, and the industry as a whole is shifting to solve this challenge. In fact, earlier this month Google introduced the ability for advertisers to measure offline sales with AdWords’ conversion import feature. This new AdWords feature helps advertisers measure and optimize for the complete end-to-end purchase process. It’s exciting to see publishers beginning to understand and support this level of marketing complexity. Providing marketers with online to offline visibility allows brands to realize the true return of their online advertising investments and enables them to better optimize their programs.

In early 2012, Marin addressed this same challenge by introducing Revenue Upload by Order ID (RUBOID). By assigning order IDs—for example an applicant or quote number—this feature enables advertisers to bridge the gap between their data warehouses, or CRM systems, and online customer activities. Marketers are not only able to attribute offline conversions and revenue to back to online clicks and events, but also modify attributed revenue based on refunds, cancellations, and other downstream revenue adjustments.

In the case of AMF Bowling, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers, online coupons are used to drive customers to one of their 285 bowling centers across the country. However, this online to offline engagement created challenges in tracking and measuring coupon effectiveness. They lacked visibility into the bowling centers that benefited most from their coupon redemption program. Six months after integrating their program with Marin’s RUBOID technology, monthly revenue attributed to paid search was over 10 times higher than the revenue attributed in the first month of the program. The ability to optimize with a complete picture of ROI enabled AMF Bowling to lower their cost-per-conversion by almost 70% over a nine month period.

With 5 Months of Consecutive Growth, PLA CTR Up 19% Year-Over-Year

By August 27th, 2013

From October through December 2012, when Google first transitioned shopping results in the US, PLAs experienced an almost exponential growth in impressions and clicks. Since then, retailers have continued to embrace the richer and more engaging ad experience, providing online shoppers with highly relevant creative that include product details, images, and price.

To help search marketers prepare for this holiday season, Marin has released a report, “Google Shopping Ads: Product Listing Ads Deliver for Retailers.” This annual report examines the continued surge in PLA adoption and spend, and presents four critical best practices for successfully deploying, managing, and optimizing PLA campaigns in Q4.

PLA CTR online shopping impressions clicks

Highlights from this report include:

  • The share of PLA impressions stalled and dipped in 2013, decreasing 2% in June and 13% in July compared to January 2013
  • PLA CTRs have remained higher than standard text ads since November 2012; they were a record 21% higher in June and July 2013
  • PLA CTRs increased 19% year-over-year in July 2013 and have increased each month since February
  • PLA CPCs soared 34% compared to January 2013 to an all-time high in June

Download the complete 8 page report, “Google Shopping Ads: Product Listing Ads Deliver for Retailers”, here.

Online Retail: 5 Strategies for Search Marketing Success, Part 2

By August 12th, 2013

Retail ROIIf you didn’t get a chance to read the first two tips in this series, check out Part 1 here. If you’re already up to speed, we’re going to pick up where we left off and discuss three more strategies to make your online retail search marketing programs a success.

3) Advertise your entire product catalog. Retailers that promote their complete product line and deliver relevant ads are able to differentiate their offerings and maximize their revenue outcomes.

  • Dynamically manage campaigns to maximize visibility. Use a management platform with real-time automation and leverage a structured product feed. Align your paid search campaigns with your products in order to advertise your entire inventory at scale.
  • Simplify PLA management and optimization. With automated PLA campaign tools, you can make additions and edits in bulk, and efficiently create PLA objects without introducing errors.
  • Scale creative management. Successful online retailers use tools to quickly isolate and update creative to align with promotions. Top performing creative should be continuously identified, optimized, and deployed at scale.

4) Convert on-the-go consumers with mobile. Retailers that can successfully and engage on-the-go shoppers will be able to acquire revenue as customers move across devices.

  • Segment mobile performance. Use reporting tools that provide analysis of performance by device along dimensions such as product line and geography. This will give you actionable insights for optimizing the mobile shopping experience and implementing mobile-specific bidding strategies.
  • Deliver mobile-specific creative. Increase relevance with local cues such as name of a city or region, and use mobile location and call extensions.
  • Implement mobile-based bidding strategies. Identify trends in mobile searches and conversion rates to inform a strategy that will allow you to engage mobile shoppers at the right time. To combat competitors, continuously adjust bids based on segmented performance.

5) Optimize for seasonal shifts. Retailers that account for seasonality will maintain an advantage and accelerate revenue outcomes during critical buying periods.

  • Schedule bid adjustments based on forecasted performance. Use a bidding solution that automatically adjusts bids according to expected shifts in seasonal performance. Deploy boost schedules to proactively optimize for revenue-per-click fluctuations.
  • Factor conversion latency into bid calculations. Since the time between the initial ad click and the purchase can range from the same session to several months, most online retailers can optimize bids by using an automated solution to exclude the most recent days from their bid calculations.
  • Identify and exclude outlying data. Periods of irregular paid search data can wreak havoc on your bid calculations. Account for these times by excluding the specific dates and date ranges from bid calculations across campaigns and product lines.

Are you a search marketer in the online retail industry? Share your tips for success in our comments section. And make sure to download a copy of our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers,” for more in-depth discussion of these winning strategies.

Online Retail: 5 Strategies for Search Marketing Success, Part 1

By August 7th, 2013

retail roi adwords marin softwareDid you know? Online retailers spend more on paid search advertising than just about any other industry. In fact, retailers will account for more than $3 billion of Google AdWords revenue this year.

Retailers face unique challenges in the battle for online revenue. And in this highly competitive space, technological inefficiencies and the inability to execute effectively on paid search strategies results in higher costs, lower margins, and missed opportunities.

Marin Software studied some of the world’s largest and most successful retailers, and identified 5 strategies for success. Read on for ideas to improve your own search marketing programs.

1) Allocate your budget efficiently. Retailers that efficiently allocate their budgets are able to maximize revenue without increasing spend.

  • Measure performance by business need. Segment and analyze your paid search performance across several dimensions (product line, geography, etc.) to gain insight into ROI, unconstrained by account structure. Then allocate your budget accordingly.
  • Manage by exception to reduce wasted budget. Filter large datasets and create alerts to make smarter decisions faster. Deploy negative keywords, find and eliminate unprofitable keywords, and optimize underperforming creative.
  • Forecast performance based on revenue goals. Automated tools can build forecast models to anticipate changes in performance, allowing search marketers to hit their business targets based on adjusted revenue goals and projected budgets.

2) Capitalize on brand equity to beat out the competition. Retailers that do this are able to maximize ad visibility and create engaging brand experiences.

  • Integrate ad extensions to increase brand presence. When it comes to sitelinks in particular, make sure to align differentiated brand messaging with specific, high-value landing pages to minimize the presence of competitors and provide a more intimate retail experience.
  • Bid to position to maximize visibility. Flexible bidding solutions that can target a preferred position for brand keywords enable search marketers to increase bids immediately following a competitive shift in ad position.
  • Engage customers with expanded brand keywords. First, gain visibility into your paid search query reports and isolate the keywords that align with the needs of your customer. Then, assign each with unique landing pages that provide engaging content. Finally, generate highly relevant content that aligns with customer intent.

Stay tuned for three more strategies, coming soon. And for more information, download our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers.” The white paper reviews the challenges in executing each strategy and highlights tools and techniques for addressing them. It’s a must-read for any search marketer in the online retail vertical.

Bulk Support for Google Enhanced Campaigns

By June 19th, 2013

In our Feature Spotlight blog series, we highlight and discuss use cases for new and popular features within the Marin Software platform. Today, we’ll take a look at Marin’s bulk support for Google enhanced campaigns; streamlined capabilities that enable search marketers to effectively scale the migration and management of enhanced campaigns.

The Enhanced Campaigns Challenge

Google’s move to enhanced campaigns was without a doubt one of the biggest shifts paid search marketing has experienced, generating industry buzz and plenty of concern among search marketers. One of the biggest concerns was the amount of additional work required to migrate to and manage enhanced campaigns. Migrating and managing these campaigns for large-scale search accounts demands a lot of time—especially the manual, time-consuming tasks of migrating and merging campaigns.

Marin & Enhanced Campaigns

The advantages and pitfalls of enhanced campaigns have been well documented and discussed throughout the search industry. Kye Mou did a great job of covering this topic in his post on what enhanced campaigns mean for search marketers. Understanding the requirements to successfully migrate all campaigns before July 22nd, Marin’s Product team has been working tirelessly to integrate features to support enhanced campaigns. This hard work paid off in early March when Marin announced our first round of support for enhanced campaigns. Since then we’ve announced additional features, including bulk upload and multi-edit support for enhanced campaigns.

Marin’s Bulk Support for Enhanced Campaigns

Marin Software - Enhanced Campaigns Multi-EditTo help advertisers more effectively migrate to and manage their enhanced campaigns, Marin released bulk upload support across all key enhanced campaign objects. Marin users can now accurately perform all of the following actions using bulk sheet upload functionality:

  • Create and manage enhanced campaigns
  • Migrate legacy campaigns to enhanced campaigns
  • Set campaign-level mobile bid adjustments
  • Create and manage mobile preferred ads

Additionally, Marin will display the Google recommended mobile bid adjustment on the enhanced campaigns’ settings page.

All-in-all these features will save a significant amount of time and streamline the workflow for search marketers who are migrating to, merging, or managing enhanced campaigns.  Learn more in our helpful report, The Search Marketers’ Guide to Enhanced Campaigns.

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