Reggie Stjernholm

by Reggie Stjernholm |

As we have entered a New Year, people are thinking about personal resolutions such as fitting into those old college jeans again.  That said, I would implore PPC advertisers to also think about shaping up their paid search efforts this year. Not sure where to start? At Metric Theory, we’ve seen hundreds of common mistakes in Google & Bing accounts, and know the best practices for profitability. Taking the vow to keep these 5 main resolutions will have you well on your way to a happier, healthier and more effective PPC account for the New Year.

1.  Reevaluate PPC Goals

As Bill Copeland said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” Having a goal for any business project is certainly important to know where you are aiming and what is seen as success at the end. It is just as important to know what type of goal is important.

In PPC, the tradeoff in goals can usually be typified as growth verses efficiency. As the saying goes, “It takes money to make money.” The more growth focused a PPC account is, the more expensive it will be to attain more conversions, because the account is either bidding more aggressively on existing keywords, or casting a wider net and hoping to catch a more varied array of searchers or a set of searchers who are higher in the buying funnel.

Conversely, a more efficiency focused PPC account is willing to cut off potential converters knowing that they need more profitable conversions. This means looking at a ROI goal on the B2C side or a CPA goal on the B2B side.

When you look at the PPC output of 2014, are you saying “I think we would have been willing to see the CPA rise a little if it meant more conversions”?  Or, do you feel like you were too aggressive with ad spend?  The answer to this question will help set the account on the right path to “scoring” in 2015.

2.  Regularly Audit Your PPC Account & Benchmark It

The New Year is a great time to clean out the “dust bunnies” in your account. Cream of the crop account managers will conduct a full analysis when taking on an account and will make a benchmark document.  The beginning of the year is, again, a great time to re-audit your account and set a strategy for the next year based on new data. By looking at campaign settings and current bid modifiers, you get to evaluate performance at a very high-level. Since settings and bid modifiers can have such a big impact on account performance, it’s important to do your due diligence and make decisions based on long-term, statistically significant data. The states where you perform the best might very well have changed over the course of 2014, causing a shift in previous actions.  Some areas to check:


  • Bid Types (any automated bid strategies?)
  • Locations & Languages targeted (does this make sense?)
  • Search Partners (on/off)
  • Ad Rotation (auto optimized or rotate indefinitely for A/B testing?)
  • Delivery Method (accelerated or standard?)
  • Bid Modifiers
  • Geographic
  • Ad Scheduling for time of day or day of week
  • Demographic

3.  Strategically Use Match Types

A good question to ask yourself in 2015: Do you know why you’re using the match types that you are? Does your match type strategy reflect your growth vs. efficiency goals for the account overall:

  • Pure Broad Match – While pure broad has developed itself a bad name over the years, it can now actually be underutilized in growing accounts. Broad match should be viewed as a research investment tool to show up on terms you may never have thought of bidding on and seeing how they perform. If you have extra budget and/or your product is not well defined in the market-place, it might be wise to expand your account using broad match.

Where should you start using broad match? One smart growth strategy to start using broad match includes Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). This is a “pre-qualified” audience of searchers who have been to your site already, and it is a more controlled way of using broad match to find new search terms around your product offerings. You can also find your most basic term(s) that describe your product and performs well already in other match types. Break them out into their own ad groups and bid on broad match.

Warning: Habitually mining for breakouts and looking for negative keywords is going to be essential when using pure broad match. Having a well-built-out, tight negative list prior to setting broad match loose will be important for getting the most out of one’s PPC investments and for keeping control of irrelevant searches.

  • Exact Match – The efficiency-focused business should value cutting back on unnecessary cost or clicks by shifting spend to exact match types. Exact match ensures that your ads always find their way to your “bread & butter” keywords. These should be the keywords you are willing to spend the most on per click because they are exactly the right keywords and your business wants to show up on them nearly 100% of the time.

Allow your account growth vs. efficiency goals guide your ratio of spend coming from broad vs. exact match keywords.  Use this lever to your advantage.

4.  Group Keywords in Themes

Shaping up a paid search account’s keyword categories for 2015 is just as important as one’s fitness routine. Tightly-knit campaigns and ad groups are extremely important to get the most out of AdWords insights. By having “apple” keywords separated from “orange” keywords, you are more likely to make smart, statistically significant decisions. Some checks for your account from Metric Theory’s Best Practice PPC Playbook:

  • Brand terms are broken out from Non-Brand terms
  • Campaigns are broken out by type: Search, Display, Shopping (PLA), Remarketing, RLSA
  • Ad Groups contain exactly like keywords and nothing else (even modifiers)
  • Ad Group keywords match Ad Copy & Landing Pages

Example of healthy account structure:

5.  Pick Compelling Ad Copy

PPC marketing is half data and half creativity to strategically reach ones goals. Psychology and marketing go hand-in-hand, so creatively advertising ones products by stepping into a customer or client’s shoes is vitally important. On a SERP, you could be competing with 11 identically formatted PPC text ads, not to mention the organic search results.  Let 2015 be the year that you push yourself to generate ad copy beyond the norm.

For this year’s ad copy resolution try this one on for size – search for terms you are actively bidding on, pretend you are your target market, and see if you:

a)     Notice your ad within the first few seconds

b)     Honestly want to click on your ad verses the competition

If you answer no to either one of these, figure out why and spend 30 minutes brain-storming something new. Some areas to differentiate yourself with courtesy of the Metric Theory’s Best Practices Playbook:

  • Branding: Do you have a slogan that makes you stand out from the crowd? We’ve seen clients whose brand slogan wins out consistently in the ad copy despite testing it against the most creative and appealing ad copy language we’ve thought of. Use your branding arsenal in line 2 and test something new in line 1.
  • Promotions: What kind of promos do you have and are they better than your competition? If not, your ads probably shouldn’t mention the mediocre deal in the ad, or it could dissuade clicks. If so, add them in the ad copy or sitelinks and watch the click-through-rate grow. Some great promotions to test in line one include percentages-off, free demos or trials, free shipping or free personalization.
  • Spicy Language: Think about appealing to ethos, pathos or logos and what your competition is appealing to (see below illustration). We’ve seen some B2B ads that appeal to emotions consistently win out, because the competition is appealing to logic or credibility only. Here are examples of ad copy persuasion techniques using basic, psychological appeals:
    • Logos is the appeal to logic and proof, such as adding in the number of Fortune 100 clients who use your service or how many products you sell. (The Star Trek fans out there should think of this as speaking like Spok)
    • Pathos is the appeal to emotions, beliefs and values, such as volunteer efforts your company participates in, how “green” your products are, or what your company believes in and how that matches to your target market through creative wording. One example from some high-end ecommerce companies includes using fun modifiers, such as Lux, Divine, Celeb, Gregarious, etc.
    • Ethos is the credibility or expertise your company or products bring to the table, such as how many years or generations of experience your company possesses, any guarantees your company offers (money-back, lifetime, 2 week opt out, etc.), or the type of transparency and safety your site offers when shopping online.
ethos logos pathos

Happy New Year, Live Long and Prosper, and good luck with your PPC-shaping up from Metric Theory!