Marketing Insights

Archive for ‘Creative Optimization’

3 Facebook Creative Tips for Success

By April 27th, 2016

This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.

Marketers are spending billions of dollars on Facebook advertising. Why? Because Facebook ads work, thanks to extensive targeting options and the native look and feel of ad creative. The most important, but often overlooked, element in any campaign is great ad creative. How can your brand achieve success with ad creative on Facebook?

We have three tips for you that we’ve aligned with the three stages of the customer marketing funnel.

Stage 1: Awareness

Visually engaging images are the first things people notice while scrolling through their News Feed. It’s crucial to capture the attention of your audience right off the bat with bold, beautiful imagery that will entice the viewer to click your ad. Develop original creative that hasn’t run in other social campaigns so that it stands out as new and unique.

Stage 2: Consideration

Now that a user has paused to look at your ad, how can you hook them? With powerful words. In the text of an ad, highlight your product’s unique benefits and convey a sense of urgency to get consumers to consider your offer. A call to action should appear in the first 90 characters to ensure consumers take action. Promotions and incentives like free shipping often motivate a shopper to click and buy.

Stage 3: Decision

Now someone has been enticed by your imagery and inspired by your language. Next, consider what will make a consumer click. Targeting is a great tool, and Facebook has advanced options based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. Relevancy is crucial, even post-click. Ensure landing pages are specific to the product or promotion you’re offering, or else you risk confusing your potential customer.

Finally, it’s essential to pay attention to the frequency that you’re showing ads, especially on Facebook. Are you updating creative every week? You should be. Stay on top of the latest trends, and entertain your audience with fresh creative that instantly pops.

About the Author

sarahSarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

4 Spring Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Annual Account Audit

By March 3rd, 2016

With spring rapidly approaching, this is a great time for search marketers to start preparing for an annual account audit. What are some of the top areas of focus for spring cleaning your account? Marin’s Center of Excellence has created a process for identifying key ways accounts can be improved through structural and performance-based changes.

Step 1: Identify pain points in the account to narrow
your focus

Before you dive into cleaning up your account, identify the main areas where you’d like to focus your time. Chances are you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to dedicate to anything but day to day management tasks — so to save time, start by asking yourself some questions to help narrow the focus of your audit and cleanup.

Some of these questions might include:

  • Where does the account fall short of meeting its goals?
  • Does the account have unutilized objects (things like past promotional creatives)?
  • Do you regularly perform A/B tests?
  • Have you had issues with revenue attribution?

Step 2: Perform an audit

The second step is to perform an audit of your account. You should focus your time on two major areas of opportunity: account structure and performance.

Tip: When performing the account audit, pull data in a format that allows you to make bulk changes. This way, once you’ve identified issues, you can easily take action and save time.

First, take a look at your account structure to make sure it follows search marketing best practices. This’ll make your account easier to navigate and ease day to day management. Second, analyze your account for performance issues that require action. The Center of Excellence recommends looking for the following:

Account Structure

  • Duplicate keywords
  • Conflicting negatives
  • Past promotional creatives
  • Missing active keywords/creatives
  • Misspelled creatives
  • Campaign setting alignment
  • URL tracking issues

Performance

  • Underperforming objects
  • Optimal use of negative keywords
  • Quality Score analysis
    • Landing page content
    • Keywords
    • Ad copy

Step 3: Implement changes

The third step is to take corrective action based on insights you discover during the audit.

Be sure to keep track of any changes you make and a record of the audit — this is essential, since it’ll allow you to effectively measure future performance.

Step 4: Measure

Use your record of changes to measure the impact of your spring cleaning efforts. Compile this information into a visual representation of the improvements to share with your colleagues or clients.

If you’re a Marin customer interested in partnering with the Center of Excellence on an account audit, contact your account representative, who’ll connect you with a Center of Excellence consultant today! Or, if you’re new to Marin, request a demo.

4 Quick and Effective Ways to Segment Your Display Ad Audiences

By February 22nd, 2016

With the steady rise in remarketing as a digital advertising strategy, audience segmentation and activation has become a key tactic for digital marketers. What are some things that display advertisers should take into account when defining and streamlining their strategy?

Understanding Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation can be defined as a process of dividing people into homogeneous subgroups based on defined criteria such as product usage, demographics, psychographics, communication behaviours, and media use. Audience segmentation is now a major tool advertisers can use to tailor messages, improve targeting accuracy, and drive performance.

Defining the Strategy

For display remarketing, a sound audience strategy is the foundation for a successful campaign, and has three elements:

  • A meaningful audience segmentation approach
  • A clear feedback loop to validate this approach
  • The ability to activate the segmented audience

To create a truly meaningful audience segmentation strategy, advertisers need flexibility in the tools they use to segment their audience. Segmentation methods also offer increased flexibility in what an advertiser can count as a user conversion, creating an extra dimension to audience creation.

Streamlining the Strategy

Let’s explore four key segmentation methods that allow advisers to go beyond path-based segmentation or a one-size-fits-all remarketing vendor approach.

Query string

Query string is part of a URL that contains data that doesn’t fit conveniently into a hierarchical path structure. The query string commonly includes fields added to a base URL by a web browser or other application. This opens up a huge number of possibilities when it comes to audience segmentation. For example, here’s a query string generated after a user searched on a fictitious travel comparison website.

http://www.example.com/searchresults.html?checkin_monthday=13& &checkout_monthday=27& year_month= current -2&dest_id=United%20Kingdom& group_adults=2&group_children=2&no_rooms=1

Looking at this query string, we know the user is:

1. Looking for a two-week holiday from February 13to 27, 2016

checkin_monthday=13& &checkout_monthday=27& year_month=current-2

2. Interested in a UK holiday

dest_id=United%20Kingdom

3. In a party of two adults and two children

group_adults=2&group_children=2

4. Looking for one room

no_rooms=1

Based on this information, we can now create audience lists based, grouping users based on urgency, demographics, and interests. And, our 1st party data set is fresh and reliable.

We can also count a conversion anytime someone visits a page with a specific URL query string: http://www.example.com?page=thank-you-new-user. In this case, we only count conversions from new users.

JavaScript event

Use the “event” remarketing audience method to add users to an audience when they perform an action triggering a specific JavaScript event on your site. These events could include but are not limited to number of clicks, partial form completion, time on site, hovering over a button, expanding an image, or filtering to view products (such as. from high to low).

For example, suppose a user filters to view products from high price to low. It’s normal for these users to have a higher average order value per product than a user who filters from low to high. This may affect not only the amount we’re willing to pay to acquire these users, but also the type of creative we want to show them and which publishers we might want to target.

Conversions can also be counted anytime a specific JavaScript event is fired in the browser. This allows huge flexibly when it comes to defining conversions and reduces the reliance on thank you pages as conversions.

Recency

Recency refers to how recently a user last left your website or app. Creating remarketing lists based on recency enables a range of remarketing tactics.

It’s common for conversion rates to be high when a user sees an ad in the first few minutes after they leave your website, so make sure you’re highly visible during this time. Recency segmentation also allows different creative, offers, or calls to action based on how long it’s been since someone last engaged with your website.

Recency also allows for interesting cross-sell tactics. Say a travel agent knows that certain users are most likely to purchase travel insurance 30 days after they’ve booked their flights. Advertisers could use recency targeting to show travel insurance ads around this time.             

Regular expression (regex)

A regular expression is a special text string for describing a search pattern. This allows advertisers to set up complex audience lists, such as one that matches multiple web pages, query strings, or products. Regular expressions also allow you to set up complex conversions, for instance, ones that match multiple-goal pages.

Say for example you want to create a list for users that go to the Caribbean section of your website as long as the subdirectory is in the second position. You can’t use ends with, or starts with, or contains; however, you can create this list with a regular expression.

^/.*/ Caribbean/.*

^ A caret in a regular expression forces the expression to match only strings that start exactly the same way your regular expression does.

.* The dot could match any letter or digit. The star right after it matches the ability of the dot to match any single character, and keep on going so that it ends up matching everything.

Combining segmentation methods allows you to create sophisticated audiences that matter. By combining numerous segmentation methods, you can create an almost endless number of audiences to activate through remarketing.

Conclusion

To run the most successful remarketing campaigns, advertisers need segmentation tools that allow them to slice their audience in an almost unlimited number of ways. Currently, the number of advertisers using simple, path-based audience segmentation or a remarketing vendor’s standard segmentation approach is surprising. With tools that create and activate a meaningful audience segmentation strategy, you can build the foundation of a truly successful remarketing campaign.

On the Air and in the Seats: Using Offline Moments to Drive Social Engagement

By November 3rd, 2015

According to Time Warner, 65% of people with a smartphone and tablet are likely to use social media while watching TV. From tweeting along during The Voice, to posting game-day Facebook statuses while watching our favorite teams, social media is now a virtual living room.

So what can digital advertisers do to capitalize on these multi-screen habits?

We’re excited to announce TV Sync, a powerful solution that allows advertisers to automatically activate their social ads based on customizable offline events including television flight schedules, live programming, weather changes, or sporting events – all in real-time. By synchronizing social media and TV advertising efforts, marketers can amplify reach and drive consumer engagement across screens.

TY Sync is made possible through Marin’s premier social partnership with TVTY, the leading provider of real-time contextual data. As TVTY’s preferred social advertising platform, Marin can now help advertisers run contextually targeted advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using television signals from over 400 national and local channels, across 25 countries in North America, EMEA, and Australia.

TV Sync unleashes a multitude of possibilities for social advertisers. Consider some examples.

Extend your advertising message across screens

Running TV commercials? Use TV Sync to trigger your social ads immediately as your commercials air, reinforcing the message and increasing your impact with a multi-screen presence.

Counter your competitor’s TV commercials

As soon as your competitor’s commercials appear on TV, counter them by launching social ads in real-time. This is a great way to stay top of mind and boost mindshare.

Improve targeting and relevance with weather and sports

Trigger your social ads according to weather status or key sporting events for a timely, optimized, and personalized campaign that strikes a chord with your audience. For example, during snow-filled winters, travel advertisers can target users with ads to tropical locations.

Drive engagement during live or scheduled TV programs

TV Sync can help you advertise your auto brand during an episode of Top Gear, or launch social ads for your beauty brand during the red carpet at the Oscars. Aligning your ads with specific programming in this way creates a highly targeted and relevant ad experience.

TV Sync is immediately available for Marin Social customers, and we’ve already seen some exciting use cases and positive results. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

6 Triggers That Signal When It’s Time For New Ad Copy

By June 30th, 2015

For many marketers, ad copy is another “set it and forget it” item on a campaign launch to-do list. But ad copy isn’t just another box on a list to be checked off. Successful marketers intuitively understand that messaging needs to be attended to and updated on a regular basis in order to ensure campaign success.

You invest a lot of time and resources into your search campaigns, and you must know when to write a new ad or refresh your ad copy. There are several specific triggers which can indicate when you should be creating or refreshing an ad.

1. Seasonality and holiday promotions.

Consumer brands adapt keywords, ad text and landing pages to the relevant holiday or season. For example, car dealers are more likely to show a rugged, four-wheel drive vehicle in the winter than a sporty convertible. Make sure the right ads are running for the right environmental context. Even when the context doesn’t change, be aware that the hot items may change from one season to another.

2. Product changes.

Retailers have a particular cadence for updating product catalogues and refreshing inventory. Changes in product mix and product availability should go hand in hand with changes in ad copy. If your brand is launching a new product or updating an existing product, ad copy must reflect these changes.

3. Competitors and copycat messaging.

Most search engine results pages are covered with messaging that looks very similar. Smaller brands will often emulate the brand leader, copying ad text and messaging. This leaves the search results page a crowded mess of similar looking copy, and consumers are unable to distinguish one ad from another.

4. Evolving consumer needs.

One of the biggest battles that an online marketer faces, is keeping pace with the fickle, ever-changing consumer needs. As culture and language evolves, so do the ways consumers search for, and discover your products and services. Good online marketers are mindful of the continual evolution of language and sensibilities, and adjust ad copy to reflect the latest trends in language and customer desires.

5. Ad fatigue and performance decay.

Many marketers cannot find the time to refresh their ad copy and run the same messaging for months if not years. Over time consumers become increasingly immune to these ads, desensitized to seeing the same message over long periods of time. Ad fatigue is frequently seen in declining click-through rates as stale copy degrades in effectiveness with consumers.

6. Changes to the search marketplace.

The search marketplaces continuously improve their platforms to deliver new opportunities for customer engagement or improved functionality for marketers. Any time the platform opens up a new option, marketers should understand how that option impacts not just their keyword lists or bids, but the impact to the ad copy as well.

For additional best practices and tips for optimizing your creative, download our infographic here, or check it out below.



About the Author

sarahSarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston magazine, The Improper Bostonian and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running and yoga.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.

How To Write Ads for More Clicks and Conversions

By May 19th, 2015

Ads that attract attention and compel searchers to click are more likely to convert. So how do you create ads that do both? Here are 7 key tactics you can leverage in your search campaigns to improve your click-through rates while also increasing conversions.

1. Attract attention with the headline or image.
Arguably, no form of advertising is more rooted in head-to-head competition than paid search. Your ads appear next to other search ads and organic listings, and are just a click away from competitive websites. The most effective approaches for grabbing attention in the headline require thinking through consumer’s motivations. Great headlines speak directly to their biases, fears or aspirations.

2. Emphasize benefits.
Ad copy should convey the end result that a searcher is looking for. What problem are you solving for a potential customer? If you’re selling a gadget that increases productivity because of your fantastic technology, focus on the productivity gains in your ad text rather than listing out technical features.

3. Differentiate your offering.
To attract attention to your product or service, include differentiators in the headline, ad text, or body of an ad. Good examples of differentiators are price, unique benefits, stats, and social proof. Consider these differentiators:

  • If you have case studies of customers experiencing X% better performance or Y% cost savings, call that out in the ad. Percentages will catch the searcher’s eye if most of the other ads are text.
  • Has your company won an award? Do you have a lot of impressive sounding customers? Including this in ad copy can lend a level of credibility to an ad that other advertisers cannot provide.

4. Address your audience’s pain points.
Get inside the mind of your audience and understand their pain points. Directly addressing pain points in your ad copy is a great way to grab a customer’s attention, engage them emotionally, and move them to action.

5. Include keywords where appropriate.
In many cases, including a keyword is a great way to increase click-through rates and conversions. Including the keyword in the ad reinforces the idea that your ad answers a searcher’s quest. It also bolds the copy. However, including keywords when it doesn’t naturally integrate with the ad copy, or when several advertisers in your vertical are already doing it, can be counter-productive.

6. Include a strong call to action.
A surprising number of ads don’t explicitly ask the searcher to do anything. Your ad needs to clearly suggest a next step for the searcher. If you’re offering a whitepaper, rather than closing the ad with, “Free whitepaper!” try including an ad with an explicit CTA like, “Download a Free Whitepaper Today!”

7. Continuously test your ad copy!
With so many different tactics and approaches to writing ad text, the only way to know which are successful is to test, test and test some more. If you don’t test many various possible ads on a regular basis, it’s likely that your click-through and conversion rates could be higher.

For additional best practices and tips for optimizing your ad creative, visit the Boost Knowledge base here to learn more.

About the Author

sarahSarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston magazine, The Improper Bostonian and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running and yoga.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.

7 Best Practices for Increasing Facebook Ad Engagement

By July 10th, 2013

This blog post ran as a news article on Inside Facebook yesterday. You can read that article here.

With clear objectives laid out and an understanding of your target audience, Facebook represents a vast and truly global advertising opportunity. But getting the most out of your ad creative might require a little help. Marin Software works with some of the world’s most recognizable brands and Facebook advertisers, and has a deep understanding of what components make Facebook ads relevant, engaging, and ultimately successful.

 

Facebook ad creative

Creative Best Practices:

  • Ensure that your creative is relevant to the audience you are targeting. For example, if targeting recent graduates with travel ads, use pictures of smiling young travelers on a beach. This will build empathy with those who see your ad.
  • Use bold colors that stand out from Facebook’s blue color scheme. Why choose a light blue when you could attract more attention with a bright red or your brand’s color scheme?
  • Take advantage of Facebook’s social endorsement option. This type of ad will get more clicks by capitalizing on Facebook’s strengths of crowd wisdom, personal connections, and positive social pressures.
  • Make use of well-known brand imagery. Try prominently displaying your logo, mascot, or brand colors.
  • Creative rotation is key. Combat ad fatigue by swapping out old ads for new. We recommend using an automated creative rotation tool to keep things fresh and to capture as much of your target audience as possible.
  • Facebook offers a variety of advertising options including standard ads, page post ads, mobile app install ads, sponsored stories, etc. Try a blend of different ad formats for best results.
  • Try a Facebook promotion to reward users for interacting with your brand. Contests, giveaways, discounts, and coupons are all great options.

If you need some inspiration, reference your own Facebook experience and see what ads attract your attention and which ads you ignore. Here are some examples to get you started:

 

zipcar facebook ad creative

Brand: Zipcar

Targeting: Zipcar aced their targeting strategy when they showed this ad to a young professional who recently moved and is without a car. Zipcar knew they could find their audience on Facebook, and they selected their targeting criteria carefully to reach potential new customers.

Creative: The bright red car stands out and draws attention to the ad. Zipcar also does an excellent job of using their popular brand name. Their logo is visible both on and to the right of the car, and their snappy header references the brand as well.

Promotion: This ad increases the chances that people will click on it by offering something valuable to potential consumers: $50 in free driving.

 

amazon facebook ad creative

Brand: Amazon.com

Creative: Amazon.com is making the most of their popularity and brand with the ad creative above. The logo dominates the ad and the message is simple and concise, asking viewers to “Like” the Amazon.com Facebook page. This ties in well with their strategy of increasing awareness and driving Facebook fans.

Social Endorsement: This ad works because it uses the social power of Facebook to show which friends already “Like” the Amazon.com Facebook page. We trust our friend’s opinions and often have a lot in common with them; therefore we are more likely to click on ads with social endorsements than those without.

For more examples, be sure to download our Facebook white paper, “The Marketers’ Guide to Driving ROI from Facebook Advertising.”

 

Next Week: Stay tuned for more Facebook best practices in our weekly blog series! Next week we’ll discuss how advertisers can engage and retain existing Facebook fans.

Introducing the BoostCTR Account Performance Grader – Optimize Your Campaigns Today

By April 2nd, 2013

BoostCTR Account Performance GraderFor many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?

To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.

Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.

Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!

5 Quick Ways to Increase Paid Search CTR without Breaking a Sweat

By January 28th, 2013

Mouse ClickBefore writing this post, I performed a few web searches to scout out my competition. Based on that research, there appears to be one thing that everyone agrees upon about increasing paid search click-through-rate (CTR), the benefits:

  • Increased Quality Score
  • Increased ad position
  • Lower cost-per-click

However, given the title of this post, I figured just about everyone has their quick ways for increasing CTR—and I was right. There’s about 20 “quick” ways to increase your CTR, but not all of them are quick. Create granular keyword groupings? Restructuring campaigns and resetting Quality Score is a long term strategy. Give something away for free? Let’s choose to ignore that one. Look for assisted conversions? I personally don’t enjoy swimming in an ocean of data. Include pricing? And if prices change, it’ll be a fun week. Though all of these tactics and more do plenty to increase CTR, my goal today is to present five ways search marketers can increase CTR without breaking a sweat.

1. Implement Ad Sitelinks

This is unanimously the number one way to quickly increase CTR. Sitelinks provides up to six additional deep links to specific and highly relevant content on your site. These links not only expand your search engine results page (SERP) real estate, but they also enable search marketers to point users towards high-value landing pages, such as form fills and store locators. Keep in mind that up to six links can be added per campaign, which was increased from four in 2011. So if you haven’t touched your sitelinks in a while, it’s time to go back and ensure you have six updated links available.

Google Ad Sitelinks Example

For more information on sitelinks and how to enable them, click here.

2. Pause Poor Performing Creative

Remember that creative test you were running way back when? Well it’s still running, and one or more of those creative is hurting the entire ad group. As you prioritize ad groups for CTR optimization, be sure to evaluate the performance of existing creative. Though some poor performing creative will be easier to spot than others, be sure to reach some level of statistical significance before cutting ties and pausing those creative. It’s important to remember that poor performing creative represent an opportunity cost. By weeding them out of your account, you can drive more traffic through more relevant and engaging creative.

For additional best practices on creative testing and optimization, click here.

3. Leverage Differentiating Text

There are so many elements search marketers can test when it comes to differentiating their creative from their competitors. Let’s use a short list with simple explanations:

  • Call-to-Action: a staple for all advertisers, a simple, yet strong call-to-action encourages users to engage with a purpose. For example, “Register for free today!” or “Shop early and save”.
  • Unique Selling Point: incorporating free shipping, price match guarantees, promotions, and other unique selling points into creative not only sets you apart from competitors, but makes your creative that much more compelling.
  • Numbers and Figures: to break the repetitiveness of words and sentences, use numbers and figures (i.e. &, ®, ™) as an effective way to bring attention to creative.
  • Display URLs: there are a number of ways to arrange your display URL and incorporate keywords into them to increase relevance. For example, “keyword.example.com” or “example.com/category/keyword”. However, keep in mind that some users copy and paste display URLs into the navigation bar, so be prepared with a redirect or an effective 404 page.

4. Mine for Negative Keywords

Most search marketers know how to mine for negative keywords, but the tune changes when discussing how often. Generating a search query report is simple; with some enterprise class solutions generating them automatically. Identify keywords that have received impressions, but very few clicks. But also take note of irrelevant tokens that appear often in queries. For example, tokens like “free”, “reviews”, and “used” often appear alongside relevant keywords. Add these and those irrelevant keywords to eliminate unwanted impressions and clicks.

Negative Keywords Create A Virtuous Cycle

For more information on developing an effective negative keyword strategy, click here.

5. Use High Volume Tokens

Keyword tokens within creative will appear in bold whenever they match or closely match a user’s search query. To improve the relevancy of your creative to the keywords within an ad group, include tokens with high impression share within creative text. For example, if users are more likely to include “clothing” in their query, rather than “apparel”, generate creative that includes the token “clothing”, even if both tokens appear in multiple keywords within the same ad group. Using the most relevant tokens within your creative will increase the relevance for a larger share of impressions and help increase CTR.
Incrementally increasing CTR takes testing and continuous optimization of keywords and creative. This involves using both short term and long term strategies. Hopefully, with the tactics I’ve imparted, you can begin increasing your CTR today…quickly and sweatband-free.

Will Ferrell Sweatband

Three Search Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

By January 9th, 2013

With January underway, most search marketers have already made their personal New Year resolutions. Whether it’s better health, spending more time with friends and family, or helping out in the community, we all have high hopes for 2013. For me, and many other search marketers, the motivation to do better each year defines the strategies I hope to execute on in 2013. It all starts with planning and creativity. After analyzing this past year’s performance and factoring in the objectives that have been set, three additional New Year resolutions made it on my list. The following are what I hope to do more of for my paid search program in 2013 and how I plan to get there.

1. Test More of Everything

TestingMy testing plans tend to go through cycles of high activity and mild dormancy. Building a test, analyzing results, implement the findings, and building the next test takes time and often loses steam when coupled with a busy schedule. This year, I’m going to test more and test often. This will include not just search landing pages, but also ad creative, conversion pages, and display banners. I’m working with my design team to create an optimization calendar that fits their bandwidth and allows me to prioritize tests across our multiple marketing channels. Testing more will be especially be critical this year as I look to grow leads incrementally without expanding budgets.

2. Re-Organize Messy Campaigns

Account TaxonomyThough this resolution is much more time consuming and has more long term than short term implications, I believe that it will pay big dividends during critical seasonal periods of 2013. Many times search campaigns are built out with a structure that makes sense at that time. However, as campaigns mature and outgrow that structure, they no longer perform at optimal levels. Aggressive keyword expansion can lead to less relevant creative; and less aggressive negative keyword expansion can result in unwanted clicks. On top of that, as Google and Bing come out with new features and functionality, the account structure may become dated and less productive.

This year, I’m reviewing the structure of my campaigns and groups. Groups that achieved lower than average click-through rates (CTR) in 2012 will be split out into more granular ones. Since keywords under this new structure will vary less within any one group, I can then generate highly relevant creative and leverage more specific landing pages in hopes of increasing Quality Score, CTR, and conversion rate.

3. Prioritize Creative Optimization

AB Landing Page TestingI’ve talked about this particular resolution in my previous articles, yet it always seems to fall lower in the pecking order of my daily optimization efforts. Especially among small to medium sized businesses where budgets are tight, creative testing and optimization is critical to incremental growth and improvements in overall paid search performance. In fact, all three of my resolutions for 2013 fall into the category of maximizing performance without increasing budgets. Splitting keywords out into more granular groups will require continuous testing to increase relevance and improve creative performance. To capitalize on the largest revenue opportunities, I’ll prioritize my optimization efforts to groups with high traffic volume, but poor performance. This is likely where I’ll get the most return on my time spent optimizing creative.

The key this New Year is building on the momentum from 2012. There are plenty of new publisher features and tools like remarketing and Product Listing Ads out there to try. Regardless, I’ve decided to rely on these three basic optimization strategies—aligning them with my marketing objectives—to improve my paid search program and increase conversions in 2013.

Resources