Call-Only Ads: 3 Months In

Back in July, I wrote a post called Call-Only Ads Are Ruining Mobile Results. In that post, I shared data from a client who’d launched call-only ads, only to see mobile impressions, clicks, and conversions tank.

Based on my readers’ excellent feedback, we optimized and refined those campaigns. We turned mobile back on in the regular, non-call-only campaigns. We continued to work on bids. We were desperate.

Results did improve, but not to their former levels. Here’s an update on what’s happening with call-only campaigns and mobile in general.

Call-only campaigns have been live for about 10 weeks. So I looked at the last 10 weeks, and then 10 weeks before that, before call-only campaigns came into existence. Data here is for mobile traffic only.

Call-Only Campaign Impressions Are Low

impressions

Impressions ended up nearly equal post-call-only, but only because we added mobile back to the regular campaigns. Call-only campaign impression volume is less than half of what it was before. There’s no way we’d be able to even show up in the auction to generate clicks if we stuck with call-only campaigns, much less generate conversions from call-only.

Call-Only CPCs Are High

cpc

Yikes, check that out. CPCs for call-only are 58% higher than mobile CPCs were before. And this is with our bid management software attempting to keep call-only CPC down. It’s crazy to me that CPCs have gone up this much. Then again, this is Google we’re talking about….

CPAs More Than Doubled

cpa

This is where it gets really scary and, frankly, sad. Call-only CPAs are similar to what we saw before. And that makes sense, because we were using call-only extensions before. Users didn’t have the option to click through on a mobile device – we wanted the phone call instead. That’s how call-only campaigns work, too – at least in theory.

But look at mobile not-call-only. Yikes. Since we don’t have the option of forcing a phone call in the regular campaigns now, we’re stuck with letting users click through on mobile – which is pushing up our CPA dramatically. And no surprise – while the landing pages are responsive, the call to action is to fill out a form, which we know people don’t like to do on mobile. Sure, you can call from the landing page too, but it’s not obvious like it is in a call-only ad.

And before you suggest that we create call-only ads in the regular campaigns, we tried that too. I was thinking we could force mobile traffic to the call-only ads and desktop to the regular ads. But it didn’t work that way. The call-only ads got virtually no impressions while the regular ads got tons, even from mobile. There seems to be no way to get this thing to work the way it did before.

So, by all appearances we’re stuck. Mobile is hugely important to this client, so we can’t just shut it off. Using call-only campaigns killed our impressions, clicks, and conversions. And adding mobile back to regular campaigns killed our CPA. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. It’s a no-win situation.

Have any of you been able to find success with call-only campaigns at a good CPA? Is this yet another conspiracy by Google to improve mobile CPC? Have you found any hacks that work? Share in the comments!

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The Ideal Number Of Keywords Per Ad Group

A while back, one of our new hires asked a great question over IM about the number of keywords in an ad group. Here’s a paraphrased version of how the conversation went down:

New Hire: I’ve been told an ideal number of keywords in an ad group is around 15. If you have much more than 15, what are the chances all the words are relevant? Are smaller ad groups better, like in the 5 word range? Does it just make it more tedious to manage having a lot of small ad groups?

Melissa Mackey: Yeah, there comes a point of diminishing returns when you go below 10-15 keywords. That said, I’ve had 1-keyword ad groups for a very high volume term. It just depends – like a lot of things in PPC.

NH: Ok, so you look at diminishing returns and term popularity.

MM: Right, as a rule that works. Also, you might want to isolate smaller groups of keywords to improve quality score. So for example, if you have a few keywords with decent volume and poor quality score, you’d move them to try to improve it.

NH: What if you have a small ad group where one term gets impressions/clicks and the other one is extremely light?

MM: That’s usually ok as long as quality score is relatively similar.

Was I right about that? I’ll get to that in a second.

The “right” number of keywords in an ad group is a subject of much debate. I found a Quora thread that had as many different “right answers” as there were commenters in the thread.

Brad Geddes weighed in on the magic number of keywords in an ad group on the Certified Knowledge blog. Short answer? There is no magic number of keywords – it depends.

A poster on the Adwords Community forum does a good job of illustrating the concept, but then says 5-15 keywords is the right number.

I agree with him, to a point. I usually strive for no more than 15 keywords per ad group. But I also have ad groups with 50 keywords or more, and that’s fine too. It just depends.

The difference comes in whether the ad group is large because there is a large number of related terms out there, or whether the ad group is large simply due to laziness or lack of time. I recently did some keyword research around healthcare marketing, and there are a LOT of variations of “healthcare marketing” that are all closely related.

So how do you decide if you should split up a large ad group into smaller ones?

Look for similarities.

The first thing I do is look for similarities: in keyword theme, performance, or quality score. In fact, while I often say you shouldn’t optimize based on quality score alone, you can use it as a guide here in ad group development. Often the quality score will tell you what Google thinks is similar about the terms.

Quality score also helps you think about ad copy and landing page needs. If you have a bunch of relevant keywords with a low quality score and you’re not in an industry with traditionally low quality scores, then maybe your landing page isn’t relevant. Or maybe your ad copy needs to be tightened up. Creating new ad groups can be a way to deal with both issues.

Consider grouping by match type.

Sometimes it makes sense to group keywords by match type, to aid in keyword research and control cost per click by match type. I’ve found this especially effective for smaller accounts in niche markets where it’s hard to mine for new keywords simply by using search query reports. In larger accounts, grouping by match type just makes for unnecessary management time.

In fact, too many ad groups often become cumbersome to manage. Even a couple hundred ad groups can be super time consuming – I speak from experience on this. Single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) do make sense, but your entire account shouldn’t be full of them. You don’t want to end up in a situation like this:

twitter convo

This example is less about too many ad groups and more about an unreal number of negatives, but you get the point.

To me, the ideal number of keywords in an ad group is…. It depends. Surprise!

What’s your rule of thumb on number of keywords per ad group? Do you have a rule of thumb, or do you decide on the fly? Share in the comments!

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8 Killer Landing Page Optimization Tips for PPC in 2015

Back in 2013, I asked some of the best minds in search to give me their #1 landing page optimization tip. Their answers led to what has become one of the most popular posts on this blog.

The advice is so good, I decided to revisit it and update it for 2015. With that, here are 8 killer landing page optimization tips for PPC in 2015.

#1: Maintain relevance. The headline & supporting statements have to be aligned with the ad/source/intent of each visitor segment. From Andrew Miller.
2015 update: What more can I say? Relevance is key for driving great results, and it doesn’t hurt for your quality score either.

#2: Focus on your offer. Build & optimize the messaging & imagery for it. If done well, then the landing page foundation is set. From James Svoboda.
2015 update: I’ve seen a lot more relevant landing pages in 2015 than in 2013. Advertisers seem to have finally caught on to the fact that they need to clearly state what they want users to do.

#3: Speed is key. If landing page elements take too long to load, the prospect will move on. Work with developers to lighten load times. From Chris Kostecki.
2015 update: Never was this more true than now, when even half-seconds count:

page speed tweet

#4: Make sure your tone & language match your target audience. Best offers & calls to action won’t work if people don’t understand them. From Julie Bacchini.
2015 update: Just a couple weeks ago, I was working on a competitive audit for a client. We were researching the PPC market in Mexico, and one of the competitors spending the most in PPC was running ads in English – and driving traffic to an English landing page. Yet we know most people in Mexico trust Spanish-language marketing more. Match your audience in as many was as possible.

#5: The page should make sense and capture attention in a few seconds. If it doesn’t, that’s a problem. People skim. From Jeremy Brown.
2015 update: Just as fast load times are important, making your point is also important. I like this landing page from IBM:

ibm LP
#6: People are lazy! Increase conversion by prepopulating lead generation forms using search query & IP address info. From PPC Associates, now 3Q Digital.
2015 update: The advent of using social plugins to populate forms is just one indication of how important it is to make forms easy to fill out.

#7: Don’t make changes to your landing page too early. Base your change decisions on statistically significant data. From Stu Draper.
2015 update: Using a testing tool like Unbounce or Optimizely will help you know when you’ve reached significance on a test. Don’t rush this process.

#8: Get Rid of Distractions! If you want someone to purchase, don’t distract them with floating newsletter signups. From Bryant Garvin.
2015 update: I swear this has gotten worse in 2015, to the point of being an epidemic. At least once a day I’m bombarded with newsletter signup lightboxes within seconds of arriving on the landing page. How about letting me read your content first? Looks like I’m not the only one who feels that way:

annoying popups
It’s especially annoying when I’m trying to read an article on a mobile device, only to be hit up with a popover that I can’t even find the X to close. Stop the madness, people!

And now, some bonus tips from the great comments I got on the 2013 post!

2015 Bonus Tip #1: Do some in-person one-on-one interviews once in a while with people who have never seen the page, you’ll be surprised what you hear and you will always learn something. From Lisa Sanner.

2015 Bonus Tip #2: People do not like filling in too much information in the enquiry forms. The shorter and to the point form is the better. From Avatar South Africa.

Got a killer landing page optimization tip not mentioned here? Share in the comments!

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All About Sitelinks and Callout Extensions

One of the most useful Adwords features is ad extensions. Available extensions include call extensions, review extensions, location extensions, sitelink extensions, and callout extensions. This post is all about sitelinks and callout extensions.

At first glance, sitelinks and callout extensions appear to be the same thing. They’re both text that might be added to your ad if you appear in one of the top spots on the page. So what’s the difference between the two and how are they used?

Sitelinks contain a link; callouts are just text.

Sitelinks and callouts may look the same, but the key difference is that sitelinks contain a link (hence the name), while callouts are just text.

callouts and sitelinks

As you might expect, sitelinks appear in blue, indicating a clickable link; while callouts look like regular gray ad text.

Sitelinks require a relevant destination URL that’s different from your ad’s destination URL.

Here’s where things get both fun and tricky. To use sitelinks, you must use a different link from your ad’s destination URL. If you’re selling women’s dresses in your ad, you might add sitelinks for slacks, blouses, or accessories. You might use sitelinks for deals, as EAS does in the screenshot above. Just make sure that the links make sense and that they add to, rather than take away from, your ad copy.

For B2B advertisers, sitelinks can be challenging. It’s common for B2B advertisers to only have one relevant landing page, so sometimes sitelinks are a worst practice for B2B.

Callouts, on the other hand, are just text. You can say pretty much whatever you want, although you should consider the callouts part of your ad copy. Make sure they’re relevant.

Which one should I use?

Think carefully about the sitelinks you use. While it may be interesting to send people to your “Careers” or “About Us” page, these pages are unlikely to generate conversions. Remember, you pay for every click, whether it’s on a sitelink or the ad itself. Don’t send traffic to pages that can’t convert for you. The sitelinks in the screen shot above are all good – they’re sales-focused pages that should contribute to conversions for the advertisers.

So why use callouts? Callouts are great for B2B advertisers who don’t have good sitelinks, or for text you want to include in your ad but not link to. Examples include:

•    Slogans
•    Additional info about your product/service: what it does, who it’s best for, etc.
•    Info about the company: years in business, etc.
•    Anything that doesn’t have a landing page

I like to put slogans in callouts. Clients get very attached to slogans and taglines, but slogans usually take valuable characters away from benefits and calls to action in ad copy. Putting slogans in callouts is a great way to please the client without taking up real estate.

Use sitelinks and callouts correctly.

Let’s look at the screen shot again:

callouts and sitelinks
As I mentioned before, the sitelinks are all great. But the callouts in the EAS ad don’t make sense. “Join Team EAS”? How do I join? There’s no link to the page. Nor is there a link to the custom workout plans or coupons mentioned in the callouts. This is basically copy that makes a promise that can’t be delivered, and is a poor user experience.

GNC, on the other hand, is using callouts correctly and even creatively. Callouts are limited to 25 characters, so GNC split their “Quality Life-Quality Products” slogan into 2 callouts. This tactic may not work every time, but it’s clever and smart.

What are your favorite ways to use sitelinks and callouts? Share in the comments!

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What’s In a Good PPC Report?

Whether you’re an in-house or agency PPC professional, chances are you’ll need to provide regular reports on campaign performance.

There is usually a lot of talk on SEM news sites and forums about the type of data available from the PPC engines; the metrics seem nearly endless. Stats are available on CTR, CPC, conversion rate, conversion rate by position, data by network (display vs. search vs. retargeting vs. social PPC, etc.), Google Analytics or other web analytics data… The list goes on.

But few people seem to discuss how and what data should be presented.

Numbers Need Context

Unfortunately, too many PPC reports just regurgitate a bunch of numbers from AdWords, adCenter, and web analytics. Clients and upper managers receive spreadsheet upon spreadsheet with impressions, clicks, CTR, conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion – and no context whatsoever. They look kind of like this:

report example
While PPC pros know what those numbers represent, even a seasoned professional will have a hard time deciding whether the numbers are “good” or “bad” without context – so imagine how your client, or chief marketing officer, feels when he or she gets this spreadsheet in their inbox. They’re probably full of more questions than answers:

•    What happened before this time frame?
•    What’s typical for this time of year?
•    What is the goal of this PPC campaign?
•    Are the numbers up, down, or sideways?
•    Why are the numbers up, down, or sideways?
•    What the heck does this mean, anyway?

A good PPC report relies less on the numbers themselves, and more on why the numbers are meaningful. One way to remember this is to ask yourself the question “So what?” when looking at data:

•    What insight can be drawn from this data?
•    Are key metrics following normal seasonal trends, or is something off the mark?
•    If something’s off the mark, why?
•    Did you run a particularly successful ad copy test?
•    Was there something in the news that spiked click-throughs, but didn’t drive conversions?
•    What’s going on, and what does it mean to the advertiser?

In fact, at gyro, all of our reports and most of our presentations include a What, So What, Now What section. This format helps us to focus on what’s important to the client, rather than charts and graphs.

If you must include charts with total impressions, clicks, and conversions, put them in an appendix at the end of the report. Some clients and bosses really do like to pore through raw data, so let them – but only after you’ve told the key story.

Or, show the data in a meaningful way, like this:
sample summary slideThis one slide in a report often tells business decision makers everything they need to know about their PPC campaign, in one easy-to-grasp view.

The new report function in Adwords is another way to quickly create meaningful charts and graphs.

Numbers Should Align with Goals

A surprising number of PPC campaigns are launched every day before campaign goals are defined. When I see a campaign with a mish-mash of keywords, the home page as the landing page, and no conversion tracking, I can be pretty confident the campaign has no goal.

A PPC campaign without goals is like grocery shopping without a list. You may come home with a cart full of groceries, and you may have gotten some deals – but did you buy what you really needed? Smart grocery shoppers never set foot in a store without a list, and smart PPC advertisers never log in to AdWords without a goal in mind.

To that end, a good PPC report should include a statement defining the campaign goals, and whether they were achieved.

•    Is there a target cost per conversion you’re trying to reach?
•    Are there certain products on which you were trying to increase sales this month?
•    Did you launch a campaign with new and different goals?

Every chart, graph, and narrative should be created with the following in mind: how does this information illustrate whether the goals were achieved?

PPC generates so much data that it’s easy to get lost in the weeds looking at “interesting” statistics. But just because something’s interesting doesn’t mean that it’s important. If it doesn’t relate to goals, leave it out!

Numbers Should Point to Recommendations

In many ways, PPC reports are kind of like looking in the rear-view mirror, reviewing what’s already happened. But that doesn’t mean the report should only reflect history.

A good PPC report should include recommendations and plans forward, so the client or boss knows what will happen next. In fact, the recommendations should form the basis of any conversations that come out of the report: the dialogue should be centered on next steps in the optimization process. This is the “Now What” portion of the report.

The next time you prepare a PPC report, keep these tips in mind. Your client, or your boss, will thank you.

What about you? What elements are must-haves in your PPC reports? Share in the comments!

Editor’s Note: Portions of this article appeared at Search Engine Watch on August 9, 2011.

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Using Bing Ads Intelligence To Improve Quality Score

PPC tools are an invaluable part of everyday life in the PPC world. One tool that serves multiple purposes is the Bing Ads Intelligence Excel plugin tool.

Not only can you use Bing Ads Intelligence for keyword research, but it’s also helpful in improving your quality scores.

You may be wondering how a keyword research tool can help you fix your quality scores. Let’s walk through the process for using Bing Ads Intelligence to improve quality score.

We’ll start with the keyword report shown below.

kw grid
Now, this report will be for Bing Ads data; if you’re like most advertisers, Bing probably only represents about 30% of your PPC traffic. You may be wondering, “Why bother with Bing when most of my traffic comes from Google?”

Well, while there are differences in the quality score algorithm between the two engines, it’s rare that a keyword with a poor quality score on Bing will have a high quality score on Google, and vice versa. For the remainder of this post, that’s our assumption.

Many advertisers have hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords, so prioritizing optimization efforts is a must.

Look at your average quality score and quality impact by campaign. While we know that averages lie, they are a good place to start prioritizing.

The easiest way to get average quality score by campaign is using pivot tables. The pivot table field list will look like this:

pivot field list
The table itself will look like this:

highlighted
The highlighted rows are the campaigns with the worst average quality scores, so these are the ones we’ll focus on. (Note: I removed all keywords with quality scores of 0.)

In looking at the highlighted campaigns, 2 things are clear. First, the campaigns with the lowest average quality score are also the campaigns with the highest average quality impact. No surprise there. Second, the average landing page relevance is lower than the average keyword relevance, not only on the targeted campaigns, but on all campaigns. Now we’re getting closer to the problem!

Let’s go back to our low-QS campaign keyword report again. This time, we’ll isolate the keywords that have poor quality scores. I’m using actual keywords this time to make it easier to follow.

kw list
It’s important to note here that only the overall Quality Score is measured on a scale from 1 to 10. Keyword relevance is assessed by either 1 (Poor), 2 (No Problem), or 3 (Good). Landing page relevance is either 1 (Poor) or 2 (No Problem). So, all of the keywords above have a poor landing page relevance score; the keyword relevance is either “No Problem” or “Good.”

At this point, it would be easy to jump right in with a landing page optimization project. Not so fast! While that is the logical next step, Bing Ads Intelligence can help direct your optimization project.

Bing Ads Intelligence has many useful features, and the first one we’ll use for landing page assessment is the Keywords Categories tool:

kw categories
As I mentioned earlier, the great thing about Bing Ads Intelligence is that it runs right in Excel. We already have our low-QS keywords in Excel, so all we need to do is select the keywords we want to analyze, and click Keyword Categories. (You’ll be asked to sign in with your Bing Ads credentials first.)  The tool will create a new tab called Keyword Categories, and the results look like this:

kw categories result

What does it all mean? Well, you’ll see that most keywords have more than one category listed, which simply means that a single keyword fits in multiple categories.

The “Score” column is an indication of relevance: the higher the score, the more relevant the keyword is to the category.

Since this is an Excel tool, all the cool Excel features apply. Bing has even put the filters in for us! Using Filters, drill down to the top-scoring keywords:

top scoring kws

Now the problem with the landing page is becoming clearer. The most common category for the top-scoring keywords is “Computers_&_Electronics/Internet/Domain_Registration_&_Hosting.” In this example, that doesn’t describe the client’s business or offer accurately (not to mention the fact that domain registration & hosting is a highly competitive vertical). So, one of the goals of landing page optimization should be to make it clear what category the offer (and the company) is in. In other words, improve landing page relevance.

Another feature of Bing Ads Intelligence that will help you optimize your landing page is the Webpage Keywords function.

webpage keywords

To use this feature, paste your landing page URL into Excel, and then click the Webpage Keywords option. As with the Keyword Categories function, the tool will create a new tab and provide keyword suggestions based on webpage elements.

In the case of our client, the webpage keyword suggestions were all over the place:

webpage kws result

Clearly, we need to tighten up the theme of the page.

Of course, we can’t neglect the fact that there is work to be done on the PPC keyword side. Adding negatives, splitting keywords into more tightly-themed ad groups, and eliminating ambiguous keywords should all be on the optimization agenda.

But the great thing about Bing Ads Intelligence is the insight it offers into landing page optimization. How have you used Bing Ads Intelligence? Share in the comments!

Editor’s Note: Portions of this post appeared on Search Engine Watch on January 8, 2013.

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Bing Native Ads – More Loss of Control For PPC Advertisers

Earlier this week, Bing announced the launch of their Native Ads product. Bing Native Ads are ad units that will appear within content on MSN.com and other yet-to-be-determined content-driven sites. Ads will be served based on user search history and page content.

There’s a good overview of what Native Ads are over at Wordstream. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth the time to review.

Now, I love Bing Ads. We get great results from Bing, usually at a lower cost than Google. And I’m a huge fan of innovative ad formats. I was super excited about Native Ads – until I found out that they’d be tacked on to our search campaigns.

Advertisers can control bids for Native Ads using bid modifiers, similar to how mobile bids are controlled today. It won’t be possible to run Bing Native Ads in separate campaigns from search, nor will it be possible to exclude placements within the Bing Native Ads network.

Initially, this is probably fine, as MSN is the only site in the network. But you can bet they’ll add AOL and other sites at some point – and every one of these sites is going to perform differently. Sure, we can create native ad units that are different from search ads, but we can’t exclude sites that don’t work, nor can we create different ads for MSN vs. other sites.

When the Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance first launched, I begged them to give us separate bids for Bing and Yahoo traffic, knowing that the two engines have very different audiences. No dice. Now, we’re getting Native Ads whether we want them or not, and our only recourse is to adjust bids via a bid modifier.

I’m not saying Bing Native Ads are going to perform poorly. I haven’t tested them, and I’m sure they’ll perform well for at least some of our clients. But native advertising isn’t search. Even when you layer intent onto the ad serving algorithm, the fact remains that these users are reading content, not actively searching. It’s really a hybrid of search and display.

To the PPC engines, tablets are the same as desktops, and native is the same as search, I guess. One more loss of control for advertisers.

At least I still have Van Halen to console me.

What do you think about Bing Native Ads? Are you excited to test them, or are you concerned about the lack of control? Share in the comments!

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Call-Only Ads Are Ruining Mobile Results

Adwords call extensions are an invaluable feature for PPC advertisers who want to drive phone calls to their business. Up until a few weeks ago, you could choose how call extensions appeared on mobile devices. The ad could be clickable, driving visitors to your website; or it could be set up as call-only, where the only thing the user could do is place a call to your business from their device.

A few weeks ago, Google rolled out call-only ads and took away the option to have call-only call extensions. Those of us who were successfully using that option were forced to create brand new campaigns, called call-only campaigns, for these extensions.

We have a client whose primary goal is to drive phone calls. They do have responsive landing pages with a lead form, but they’d really prefer that prospects call them. So we were using call-only extensions for mobile, and getting great results from them. When the mandate for Google call-only ads & campaigns came, we created new call-only campaigns for this client. I figured call-only campaigns would be a boon for us, as in many ways we’d now have control over mobile budgets again.

So, we launched our new call-only ads and campaigns – and watched them get virtually no impressions.

mobile impressions 1
It’s clear from the data that most of the mobile impressions were still going to the main campaign, not the call-only campaign. So, on June 30, we excluded mobile from the main campaign with a -100% bid modifier, in an effort to force traffic over to the call-only campaign. You can see in the table that impressions for the week of 6/29 decreased by about 2/3 – and the call-only campaign decreased too, which was the opposite of what I expected.

Well, the week of 6/29 included July 4 and a nice 3-day weekend. We didn’t take action right away, knowing the holiday likely affected search volume. Indeed, impressions were down across the board for the week of 6/29.

But what happened last week, the week of 7/6?

mobile impressions 2
Yikes. Impressions rebounded for the call-only campaign, to their highest point yet. But they’re still nowhere near the levels they were before, when mobile was turned on in the main campaign.

Even worse, conversions are way down:

mobile conversions
This really tells the story. While conversions have steadily increased on the call-only campaign, they’re not coming close to replacing the conversions we were getting from mobile in the main campaign prior to call-only campaigns launching. And impressions are down 70%.

Yikes.

Now, I realize that call-only ads only show on devices that are capable of making calls, and this wasn’t the case before. But you can’t tell me that less than 2/3 of mobile devices aren’t call-capable.

I’m at a loss to explain what’s happening here. It seems like we can’t win: either we turn mobile back on for the main campaign, and then have people clicking through to the website from mobile, which the client doesn’t want; or we lose 70% of our impressions and a bunch of conversions.

Some people are raving about call-only campaigns, but I’m left feeling super frustrated. And I know there’s confusion in the marketplace about exactly how these ads work.

What’s your experience been with call-only campaigns? What am I doing wrong here? I’m open to suggestions – bring it!

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Why The New Adwords Editor Sucks

Recently, Google released Adwords Editor version 11 and sunsetted version 10. Much has been said about how great the new Editor is. It does have many features that the old version lacked, such as support for labels, shared library, and other features.

I think it sucks.

Now, part of the reason I don’t like the new Adwords Editor is because I’m not a fan of forced change. We all get used to a certain workflow, and it’s disruptive and frustrating to change it. But the new Editor has several huge flaws.

It’s crash-prone.

I noticed a few crashes when I first downloaded Editor 11, but others are still having issues.

adwords editor crashing

Yep, 6 hours of work lost due to this thing crashing. I probably would have jumped out the window in frustration. Or at least written a few nasty tweets to Adwords. And note that Theresa said it took 6 hours to do something that would have taken 5 minutes in the old Editor. Wow.

The navigation is all messed up.

The old Adwords Editor had tabs across the top for Campaigns, Ads, Ad Groups, and Keywords, just like the online UI does.

old AWE tabs
The new one moved all that stuff down to the lower left hand corner, below the tree view.

new AWE tabs
Not only has it moved to a totally different location on the page, but it’s now in text only, rather than a picture-like graphic layout. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for in a graphic square, like the old Editor, rather than in a long list of text, like the new one.

The font is dinky.

Speaking of finding stuff, the font in the new Editor is tiny and hard to read. I realize it may be more Google-ish-looking, but it’s so small that my old eyes have trouble, especially when I’m working in Editor all day. I think part of the problem is the font itself – there’s less kerning between the letters – and part is the fact that nothing is graphic, so the eye isn’t drawn to anything.

Menu navigation requires extra clicks.

Used to be, you’d click on the Ads tab, for instance, and see all the ads for whatever you’d selected in the tree – entire account, campaign, or ad group. Now, the tree is nearly useless. You select a campaign in the tree, then you click the Ads section in the lower left, and sometimes you see ads and sometimes you don’t. Look at this example for a call-only campaign:

call only ads
Clicking on “ads and extensions” doesn’t show all your ads and extensions. It defaults to “Text Ads.” It took me several tries to figure out that I had to then click AGAIN on “Call-Only ads” to see my ads. This is 2-3 extra clicks beyond what was needed in the old Editor.

Now, I’m sure I’ll get used to these lovely new features, just like I got used to Enhanced Campaigns. But right now, I’m not a fan. Especially when the workflow takes so many extra clicks. Even an extra 2-3 clicks adds up when you’re working with hundreds of ad groups.

I do like being able to open multiple accounts at once, among other things about the new Editor. But it leaves a lot to be desired.

What do you think? Is Adwords Editor 11 a godsend, or has it killed your workflow mojo? Share in the comments!

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Why Context Matters In PPC Case Studies

I read a great article today called 6 Surprising B2B Facebook Marketing Case Studies. It talked about Facebook ads, and how well they can work for B2B.

I totally agree – we’ve seen the same thing for our clients. Everyone thinks LinkedIn is the best place for B2B, but we’ve found that the audience there is small, and CPCs are high; plus the interface is clunky at best. LinkedIn does work, but Facebook works just as well if not better.

But this post isn’t about Facebook vs. LinkedIn. It’s about context in PPC case studies.

The “surprising” case studies in the article mentioned above leave a lot to be desired. They all lack context and statistical significance.

Now before someone starts throwing virtual darts at me, let me say a few things. I thought the point of the article was well-taken, and I agreed with it. I’m sure the goal was to write a brief, punchy article with “snackable” talking points (and don’t get me started on how much I hate the word “snackable”). But I’m not a fan of numbers being bandied about without context. Thus, this post.

OK. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the case studies.

case 1

On the surface, this is a great example of why paid social (and paid search) is effective for attorneys. I used to have an attorney client, with similar success metrics. They only needed 1-2 cases per year to make PPC pay for itself.

But the attorney in the case study got one case, which does not a case study make. He could conceivably spend another $100,000 in a short time on Facebook and never get another case. The one case could totally have been luck. Or, his next case might be for $500 instead of $100,000. Does Facebook look so great in that instance?

The point is, one case isn’t statistically significant.

Now let’s look at cases 2, 4, 5, and 6.

case 3-6

The issue with all these examples is the same: there’s no context. Each case study mentions a cost per lead. If you’ve ever done lead generation, these CPL’s sound decent.

Decent compared to what?

We have no context for whether these numbers are good or bad for the clients in question. What’s the cost per lead for other channels? For case 6, what if paid search was driving leads and demos at $10 per signup? Facebook doesn’t look so hot in that case. Same thing goes for all the examples here.

For case 4, there’s enough data to back into some numbers. The industry event advertiser spent $21,758 to generate 305 registrations. That’s not a small investment for social PPC. The conversion rate was just over 1%, which isn’t bad for Facebook, but is pretty low compared with other channels (or is it? We don’t know since there’s no baseline included). CPC was $1.20, which is definitely lower than LinkedIn and probably lower than search, but what about display or remarketing? In my experience, $1.20 is high for both of those channels, even for B2B. And what’s the average cost per registration for this organization? Did the organization make money on a $71 cost per registration, or did they pay $71 for an event that cost $50 to register? I’m guessing registration cost more than $71, but again, we don’t know. So it’s hard to know whether Facebook was the right choice or not.

The cases aren’t all bad, though. Let’s look at #3.

case 3

This is actually valuable insight that a lot of advertisers and PPC pros don’t think about. Every PPC campaign is a test at the beginning – you’re taking a risk that it won’t perform. And every new business venture is certainly a risk. This business learned very cheaply that no one needed their product, by conducting market research on Facebook. Spending a few hundred dollars to save tens of thousands is pretty compelling. I’m actually thinking of recommending this tactic to clients who are thinking about launching new products or services – it’s a great way to test the waters.

Now, I’m sure there is more to the story for each of these case studies. I’d bet that the author has PowerPoint decks for each case with additional detail that he chose to leave out for the purpose of brevity.

Adding context wouldn’t have been difficult here, though; and it wouldn’t have taken away from the brevity of the article. Adding one sentence to Case 6 saying “The SaaS company’s average cost per demo was $150,” for instance, would stave off any questions or doubts in the reader’s mind.

I caution anyone who puts numbers out there to include context. It doesn’t take much space, and it makes your case even more powerful.

How do you present data in case studies when you’re talking to clients or prospects? Share in the comments!

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