Online advertising is constantly changing and we are here to help you stay on top of all these changes. We just held the first Customer Success Webinar for 2014, full of information on the ways we are helping you optimize your account and the many changes Google has made to AdWords.
Here’s a quick summary of the topics we covered, but you can listen to the whole webinar with the video below.
Profit is the ultimate outcome for eCommerce companies
At Finch, we are focused on one thing: maximizing your revenue and profit through AdWords. Many of our customers have already made the shift from a cost per acquisition (CPA) model to a cost of revenue (CPV) model. However, for most businesses with variable profit margins we know that the best way to optimize your AdWords account is to use Profit. By focusing all optimization efforts on profit, we can focus all of your budget on the keywords that maximize your profit.
Expanding Keyword coverage
You lose 100% of auctions you do not compete in. Having keyword coverage that most accurately represents your entire product catalog is the best way to grow your market and reach more potential customers. We help you by connecting directly to your product catalog and by continually adding the keywords that bring you customers.
Remarketing for Search
Remarketing for Search is a way of targeting people who have been on your site previously, but who then later search again for something that you offer. The first stage of setting up RFS is to implement profiles for different potential audiences who have been to your site. As a general best practice, we will normally start with broad groups, such as any visitor on your site, and then work through your sales funnel all the way to past customers. Depending on your sales funnel, you might define anywhere from 3-5 different groups of site visitors based on this criteria.
Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
PLAs are the best way for you to own more of the search results page, stealing attention from your competitors and becoming more appealing to your customers. As with much of PPC management, Finch takes a different approach when it comes to PLA’s. We find that most eCommerce businesses tend to set up their PLA’s in such a way that their products are either grouped in one single large group, or broken down into broad categories for bidding purposes. At Finch, we split out your product feed and then bid individually on each and every one of your products. This helps to ensure your ad spend is being used where it will generate the most revenue for you.
Google has publicly announced the new Image Extensions, which adds your images to ads. They are still in beta, but we are working with a few customers to get early access.
Google recently made updates to the AdRank algorithm that factors in ad extensions, increasing AdRank for enabled and relevant extensions. AdRank not only gives you better positions, it also lowers your actual cost per click and makes it much more expensive for your competitors to acquire the same customer.
AdRank is one of the most important factors in AdWords success and the best way to influence AdRank is through your Quality Score. At Finch we have developed the right technology and processes to help you attain the very best possible Quality Score for each of the keywords in your account.
Watch the full webinar here.
If you have questions about any of these topics, please reach out to us and we will discuss it with you. If you are not yet taking advantage of everything Finch has to offer you, sign up for a free AdWords audit and we will tell you exactly how you can take advantage of these new Google features.
When your AdWords success is measured in terms of cost-per-acquisition (CPA), all of your activities support optimizing for CPA. CPA works well for businesses that are interested in capturing as many leads as possible. But for eCommerce companies, it is not the right way to measure and grow your PPC efforts. We have looked at hundreds of AdWords accounts and we repeatedly see four ways the CPA model stalls your AdWords growth and success.
1. CPA takes your eye off the ball
As an eCommerce business, AdWords is a channel for you to sell your products and generate revenue or profit. When you measure your PPC efforts in a CPA model your attention is shifted from profit to optimizing the cost of acquisitions. This distraction leads you to make tradeoffs between costs and traffic instead of improving the performance of your business. This distraction ultimately misaligns your goals with the goals of the rest of your company, making it harder to justify budgets and prove the impact on the business.
The majority of PPC vendors and experts have exceptional credentials about how to drive CPA costs down and volume up. They are armed with charts and dashboards about how fantastic your campaign performance will be. However, as an eCommerce company, CPA is an irrelevant metric for you. You are generating sales, not leads, and each sale brings in a different amount.
Solution: Keep your focus on profit and revenue, centering all of your activities around optimizing for revenue and profit. You know the ability for each keyword to generate profit. Use it when you decide to what bid for the next click. When bidding, make regular adjustments based on the profitability of individual keywords, rather than some average number everyone in your industry is using.
2. CPA simply makes you a part of the flock
Using the CPA model will make you a part of a flock of sheep, err, competitors. In any given industry, the common CPA target is roughly the same across all competitors, conversion rates are roughly the same, and the core keyword bank is about the same. The end result is a flock of sheep all doing roughly the same thing which only drives up CPC. When your company is stuck in this group-think method it’s impossible to stand out and effectively rise above your competition.
Solution: Stand above your competitors by optimizing your AdWords account on profit, rather than the same metrics your competitors are using. Conversion rates matter, but profit (or at least revenues) matter more when deciding where to spend your ad budget. You have the data on the value of each customer, use it to drive your keyword bank and adjust your bids.
3. CPA hides your real business performance
CPA creates a separation between an acquisition and the value returned to your business by focusing on the cost of getting a customer to your site, rather than how much the customer purchases. In this situation, you could double the number of conversions at a lower CPA and it could be devastating for your business. When you create separation between acquisition and profit, it creates a scenario where you are no longer able to quickly adjust your AdWords efforts to match your business goals.
Solution: Measure and optimize based on the profit returned to you. When optimizing for profit you can exponentially increase traffic without having a negative effect on your business. When you have a direct correlation between ad spend and profit, you can easily decide the target profit you want to achieve and adjust your bids accordingly.
4. CPA forces decisions according to averages
The CPA model creates an AdWords account structure that supports your CPA target. When assembling keywords and ads into groups that match your site structure or product categories, the CPA model adjusts only to changes in the averages, rather than individual changes. For instance, an ad copy change can have a positive effect on one keyword and a negative effect on another, but when you have keywords lumped together these effects get lost in the averages.
Solution: Separate each keyword and each bid, recognizing the individual contribution to profit differently than the rest. Control, accuracy and leverage are your favorite tools to buy the best and most profitable clicks, you need all you can have of all three. Averages = Bad, Real data = Good. It is there, use it!
As you know, online competition is fierce and the competitive landscape changes on a daily basis. The most reliable way to win on AdWords is to leverage every advantage in your favor. Get a free AdWords audit to see how moving from the CPA model will help drive more profit and revenue for your business.
So you have an ecommerce website but your traffic sucks? If you want to boost traffic and profits then you need to use search engine optimization (SEO) to help people find your site and make them stick around when they to. Here are 17 tips to get you started.
1. Choose your keywords wisely. Keywords may no longer be the most important SEO factor, but they are still relevant to how people will search for and find your website. You need to strike a balance.
Some of your keywords will be the terms people are already searching for (you'll find that via Google Webmaster Tools, now that Google Analytics has ceased to provide usable keyword data). Others will be terms that make sense for your site, which you can identify via the Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
This KISSmetrics article suggests choosing keywords with a high exact match local search volume while avoiding those that are too broad. Most importantly, the Google Hummingbird update showed the importance of using long-tail keywords and optimizing for semantic search, which will become more and more important.
2. Map each keyword phrase to a page on the site. Creating a good ecommerce website is about information architecture – in other words, having a structure that makes sense. I'll get back to that in a minute, but in terms of keywords it makes sense to make each keyword phrase correspond to a page on the site.
This approach will help you avoid duplication, which could incur a search engine penalty. In addition, if you use related keyword phrases for related pages and interlink them properly (another SEO tip we'll discuss later in this post), you guarantee that anyone who searches for a particular product type will have access to all the relevant pages on your site.
3. Make URLs friendly. In other words, create URLs that make sense when people see them in search engine listings. Which would you rather click, a URL, that says "product details plus a number" or a URL that actually spells out the product you are looking for?
As you would imagine, the second option is much better and increases the chance that people will actually visit your site when product listings come up in search results. It's a big relevancy factor, which is important for good SEO. It's also a good idea to keep URLs short – too long and they won't appeal to web users.
4. Optimize site structure. One of the keys to good e-commerce SEO is having excellent information architecture. The structure should be logical – allowing web visitors to easily navigate the site and find anything they are looking for.
Ensure that category pages flow naturally to sub-category pages and then to sub-sub categories. Hey, it works for Amazon – and have you ever noticed how often their products appear in search listings?
Use breadcrumb navigation so users can always find their way back to the main categories and see what they have just visited. Mark Macdonald recommends no more than three layers of links for maximum crawlability.
5. Get smart about internal links. Internal linking encourages search engines to go deeper into your site, so you need to get smart about this by linking to related products from your product pages.
It is essential to link to the most popular products in the category to further boost sales. And links to related products that other people have bought don't hurt either. If your site has customer reviews, manufacturers' descriptions and the like, include links to these where relevant.
6. Craft unique titles. Using unique titles for your products makes them more useful both for web visitors and the search engines. Don't worry – you don't have to create every title by hand. The key here is to choose the right ecommerce site template that makes it easy to generate unique titles for products, categories and subcategories of the same kind.
7. Create unique product descriptions. Descriptions are the most important pieces of content for ecommerce websites. They tell users what they are going to get, whether they're in a physical store or doing some online research. And they provide an important opportunity to engage web visitors and sell them the product.
To do that, ditch the dry-as-dust standard product descriptions and replace them with writing that appeals to buyers' emotions. Not only is this good for business, but it will help you create more unique search engine content – and you already know how important that is.
8. Dedupe content. Titles and descriptions aside, it's a great idea to avoid duplicate content penalties by removing some of the main causes of duplicate content on e-commerce websites.
With some products appearing in multiple categories – and the provision of session IDs and URL parameters – duplication can happen. But as Search Engine Land points out, paying attention when planning your site can help avoid this.
9. Use rich snippets. Schema markup is becoming a bigger part of SEO, providing rich snippets in search listings and feeding into Google's Knowledge Graph. That means it's a good idea to include this when optimizing, product, category and subcategory pages. The number of markup categories includes several that are useful for ecommerce sites, including reviews, and there will be more soon.
10. Create buyer's guides. In a content-hungry world, buyer's guides are SEO gold. Customers get lots of information on the products that interest them and search engines get lots of unique, rich content they can feature on the results pages. Of course, each guide has to be unique and should be listed in your sitemap so that search engine spiders can find the content easily.
The better your content, the better your website as a whole will rank. So make sure that you include plenty of useful information on choosing products, product ranges and using products that will guide buyers in their decision-making.
11. Optimize images. Product images help sell your product. In fact, according to Jeff Bullas, they’re a key factor for 67% of consumers. They also make it easy for others to share your products on image-centric sites like Pinterest.
If you want to get maximum SEO juice from product images, you need to optimize. That means filling in alt text and descriptions for all images and using keywords related to the product to name the images. These all have to be unique, of course.
12. Use video. Using video is a sure way to create engagement and click-throughs on your ecommerce site, with the obvious effect on product sales. Video is a great way to create social shares and to get video rich snippets in the search results, helping your products and website to be more visible. And with more people watching and sharing video on mobile devices, you can't afford to ignore this SEO tip.
13. Encourage sharing. As mentioned earlier, every social share adds another signal to the search engines that you are producing quality content on your ecommerce website. Amplify this process by including social sharing buttons on your product and content pages.
It's also a good idea to respond to any positive – or negative – feedback you get. Building a social community around your ecommerce site is one of the best ways to improve your customer base and build links at the same time.
14. Leverage social proof. Social proof is a sales strategy that gives you another way to mark up your content for semantic search. Reviews are one of the markup categories, and you can get more search engine listings by encouraging customers to review your products and publishing these on your site.
It's another double whammy, allowing you to boost the popularity of product pages while improving optimization.
15. Optimize for mobile. The Google Hummingbird update was a big win for the mobile content economy. And as Mashable notes, more than 17% of Web traffic comes from mobile devices, and it is only increasing. It is more important than ever to make sure that your site works well on mobile devices and that it is easy for people to complete necessary actions. It's back to usability, this time for mobile.
16. Speed up your site. Sites that don't load quickly are likely to incur a penalty from Google, and shopping cart abandonment will rise too. Fix this by identifying and eliminating the usual causes of site slowdown so that it works well for users and ranks well in search results.
17. Build links. Link-building isn't what it used to be, but it still has a place. In addition to internal links, it's wise to build inbound links to category and product pages. Encourage customers, industry experts and others to review your products on their sites and offer your expert opinion to others on matters relating to your niche.
Put these 17 tips into practice and you'll be well on the way to a perfectly optimized e-commerce site. You can't relax, though; you'll need to keep checking these areas whenever you add new products to your range. E-commerce optimization is a continuous process. Never let your guard down, and always be ahead of the curve.
About Dave Bascom Dave Bascom is the CEO of Fit Marketing. Dave has been doing SEO since the pre-Google days, helping companies large and small get found online. You can request a consultation with Dave and his team at Fit Marketing here.
At Finch we’ve started 2014 off with a bang and we want to celebrate with you! Over the next 2 weeks our founder Bjorn Espenes will be hosting breakfast meetings with eCommerce companies across Europe and we invite you to join.
After a successful Holiday season, new AdWords goals and objectives are now demanding attention. Google keeps making changes to AdWords and your competitors are breathing down your neck.
But we have good news! We continue to add new features and services targeted specifically for eCommerce companies, like yours. After working with hundreds of eCommerce companies, we know exactly how to help you get more profit and revenue. Let's talk about your new AdWords goals and how we can help you achieve them.
Some of Bjorn’s favorite topics include:
Come join us for breakfast and let’s see what we can do together.
Register here for the city nearest you and we will confirm with the venue details. We hope to see you there!
If you can’t make it in-person, start a free AdWords audit and we can talk you through the best way beat your AdWords goals for 2014.
Recently our own Bjorn Espenes sat down with Murray Newlands at Search Engine Journal and shared important tips for getting the most out of your AdWords campaigns.
If you regularly follow Finch, you know we talk about these tips frequently because they work:
Want to see exactly how Finch could help your AdWords efforts? Sign up for a free AdWords audit and we will review these tips using examples from your account.
The best pay-per-click advertising campaigns are always constantly evolving and moving with industry trends. This is because your potential customers can change just as quickly as the meaning of a keyword or phrase can. What this means is that a poorly monitored PPC campaign will end up wasting both your time and money.
Rather than hiring a league of workers to closely monitor, process and then act out changes within your PPC campaign. You are far better off to use an automated service to collect your data, catalog it and then interpret it in order to offer you the best performing campaign available.
Let's take a look at why your PPC campaigns should be as simple as “rinse and repeat”.
What's Wrong With Using Cost-Per-Acquisition?
Cost-per-acquisition is the main strategy that most businesses choose to use when it comes to pay-per-click campaign optimization. It tracks the cost of a keyword and pits it against how successful that keyword is at bringing in a conversion.
You may already see the problem with this strategy. Say that you have an active campaign running with a PPC keyword that has an average cost-per-click value of $0.50. You find that it takes on average 20 clicks to make a sale of a $5 item. That means you end up with a CPA value of around $10 per product sold.
By the books, $10 as a cost isn't so bad when you're selling products that are worth a lot more than $10. The problem here is that with cost-per-acquisition logic this might be one of your highest converting keywords but you end up losing money due to your final sale value simply because this is an inefficient keywords for your product or service.
Cost-Per-Value: A Better Way to Run Your PPC Campaigns
Cost-per-value are statistics that calculate the value of completing a specific action for a specific return. If it was used in the earlier example, then the $10 Adspend for the keyword is not beneficial to the company as it is only producing a $5 sale each time but incurring double this in advertising spend.
One difficulty that is associated with optimizing your PPC campaign on the value of each individual keyword is that the price of your items and keywords both continually move up and down. This requires a constant, vigilant eye on not only your PPC statistics, but also on the sale price of items you offer and the value that each customers brings when a transaction is completed successfully.
Another other problem is that you can't calculate the value of a customer to your business in certain unique cases without an integrated tracking system. The value of a customer and a word should be decided by how much profit each keyword brings in, which means that customers who buys more than one product often leaves anomalies when it comes time to calculate PPC efficiency.
The Solution That Makes PPC 'Rinse and Repeat'
The solution to a more efficient PPC campaign lies in automating your PPC advertising altogether. You can't achieve the best return on your PPC investment if you rely on people simply because they will sometimes make mistakes and use less efficient pay-per-click strategies. Only by using computer software that firstly collects all your PPC data, can algorithmically sort it in the most appropriate way for your business model and finally can tweaks your PPC campaign on a per-value basis for each of your keywords will you be able to truly maximize your profits on a daily basis.
The best part of automating your pay-per-click campaign lies in the fact that it makes everything easier and more efficient. The only thing left for you to do is 'rinse and repeat'.
About the Author
James Patterson is Simple iD's lead online marketing consultant. Simple iD is a full service online marketing agency that offers clients everything that they need to succeed online, from web design and development to a complete tailor-made online marketing package. Come and check us out on Facebook.
The first time I went to an auto auction, I found what appeared to be the exact car I wanted. I was determined to win! The car looked like it was in perfect condition so I started bidding; ultimately winning! Full of excitement, I walked over to get my receipt and an elderly gentleman stopped me and asked if it was my first time at the auction. I knew he was just about to burst my bubble. “You didn’t bother looking at the other side of the car,” he said. I grimaced as I walked around and saw a huge dent in the other side of the car. My new car was going to cost several hundred dollars more in bodywork and it was too late for me to change my mind.
I had fallen victim to the “winner’s curse.” I didn’t have all of the information going into the bid and I had underestimated the total cost of acquiring this car. I paid more in the auction than the car was actually worth, after adding in the cost of bodywork. I could have easily avoided the “winner’s curse” by walking around the car and determining the actual value of the car before I bid on it. The more information you have, the more easily you can bid both accurately and aggressively.
Every day I talk to eCommerce companies who have unwittingly fallen victim to the “winner’s curse” in their PPC campaigns. Many online businesses are happy with their PPC campaigns performance because they hit a target CPA. If they take the time to calculate the revenue generated through PPC, they will find that they, too, are victims of the “winner’s curse.”
AdWords is a fully automated auction and millions of bids are won every day. Each time a user does a search on Google, AdWords holds a split-second auction. Your bid, Quality Score, and AdRank determine your likelihood of a click from a customer. But if you don’t know the true value of that keyword, you can easily fall victim to the “winner’s curse” by focusing on a metric like CPA, instead of bidding on revenue. Overpaying for some clicks and underpaying for others takes away from your ability to gain market share and manage costs.
The more information you have, the more accurately you can predetermine the value you expect out of the next click you buy on AdWords. Know the value of the keyword before you bid by tracking the right data (i.e. track the revenue from each keyword to determine how much you are willing to pay for a click from a search on that keyword).
At Finch we help you avoid the “winner’s curse” on a large scale, utilizing our technology and expert services. By leveraging exclusive campaign management strategies, creative services, and predictive bidding, we will help you bid aggressively and accurately every time. But don’t take my word for it, get your free AdWords audit today and we will show you exactly what we can do for you.
Last week Finch hosted a webinar on how to kill your competition using Google AdWords and we just published the recording. Head on over and check it out.
Bjorn Espenes led the webinar, sharing his insights on the most effective way for eCommerce companies to leverage AdWords for success. Using Google AdWords to generate revenue and edge out competition is certainly nothing new, but Bjorn presents a new way to approach AdWords that addresses the unique demands of eCommerce companies when using PPC.
Bjorn started the webinar with a very poignant question: What is your profit margin through Adwords? He related a conversation he had with the eCommerce manager at a large online retailer. This manager had been running campaigns that were viewed as successful and they were discussing the success rates of various channels. But when Bjorn asked him what his profit margin was on the traffic generated by AdWords, he had no answer. After several weeks of analysis and implementing the right tracking, they found that they were losing money on every AdWords customer.
All of the advice in this webinar centers on how you can avoid being in that situation. Instead of losing money through AdWords, you can generate real revenue and profit. Here's a quick summary of the presentation, but check out the recording for more details:
1. Define the right KPI to measure success - The first step in killing your competition on AdWords is to focus on the right KPI for success. For eCommerce companies this success metric is profit or revenue, not acquisitions. Once you focus on profit or revenue as your success metric it focuses all of your PPC activities on maximizing revenue or profit.
2. Bid on the outcome (profit), not the click - Armed with the right success metric from step 1, profit should now become what you bid on. When you are focused on maximizing profit or revenue generated by a click, you will bid aggressively on the keywords that perform the best and reduce bids on the keywords that generate less revenue.
3. Segment the clicks - There is a range of clicks that you can buy from Google: display, search, and now remarketing. This new feature gives you the insight you need to bid more accurately for your customers. Prior to remarketing, every customer looked the same, just another new customer. But with remarketing, now you know when a search is performed, you know whether that user has been to your site, had something in their cart or made a purchase. This gives you the insight you need to bid more aggressively and accurately for their repeat business.
4. Get complete keyword coverage - “Must be present to win” is a simple phrase, but certainly no more true than for businesses on AdWords. If your entire product catalog is not represented correctly and thoroughly on AdWords, it doesn’t matter what ads you have or how they are structured, your potential customers will never see them. Correct this problem by getting a thorough representation of your inventory into AdWords and continually growing your keyword inventory with the terms that your customers are actually using to search and find you.
5. Build ads that attract clicks - It’s all about the clicks! Optimizing your ads for the maximum clicks not only helps you get more customers, but it can also help raise your quality score and AdRank. Google has been busy releasing loads of new features that can give you more real estate on the users screen. Site links and parameters like price and quantity have proven to improve click through rates dramatically.
Beyond just providing guidance, Finch can help you execute on each of these strategies. But don’t take our word for it, go sign up for a free audit and we will show you exactly what we can do to improve your AdWords performance.