A 12-Step Program to Improve Your CTR

It’s common to hear veteran search marketers at conferences and in social media talking a lot about PPC conversion rate — so much so that those new to PPC may think that conversion rate is the end all.

Conversion rate is important, to be sure. I’d even say it’s very, very important. But before a PPC ad can generate a conversion, it needs to generate a click. PPC ads are no good if no one clicks on them.

If you’re new to PPC, or if you want to improve your click-through rate (CTR), here’s a 12-step program to help you.

Step 1: Bid on Relevant Keywords

PPC beginners are often tempted to bid on high-volume keyphrases that are only marginally related to their business. Take, for example, a hotel/casino that wants to bid on “Texas hold-em.” While people indeed play this game at a casino, it isn’t relevant if the goal is to sell hotel room nights.

Don’t fall into this trap. Searchers have gotten sophisticated. If your ad isn’t relevant to the search phrase, they just won’t click on it and your CTR will suffer.

Step 2: Bid on Specific, Not General, Keywords

This is related to Step 1, yet is slightly different. Taking the hotel/casino example, you might be tempted to bid on “hotels.” While this term has significant search volume, it’s too general and is unlikely to drive many, if any, clicks.

Step 3: Use 2, 3, or 4 Word Keyphrases

Years ago, one-word searches like “hotels” were common. Nowadays, searchers have become more specific in what they search for, and it’s common to see search queries with four or more words.

Jason Tabeling wrote an informative article with research showing that CTR was highest on keywords containing two, three, or four words. Our experience has been similar: one word is not specific enough, but more than five shows diminishing returns.

Step 4: Create Small, Tightly-Themed Ad Groups

Tightly-themed ad groups make it easy to write relevant ad copy that will generate clicks. A common rule of thumb is 10-15 keyword phrases per ad group.

This ensures that your ads will be relevant to the search phrase, and increases the chance of a click. This in turn will help drive a good quality score.

Step 5: Include the Keyphrase in Ad Copy Whenever Possible

If you’ve set up your ad groups as described in Step 4, this should be relatively easy to do. Search engines bold the search phrase in both organic and paid results, so including the keyphrase or keyphrases in the ad copy ensures they will be bolded, which helps your ad stand out. Ads that stand out get better CTR.

Step 6: Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is a feature that automatically inserts your bidded keyphrase into your ad text. It’s a great way to make sure Step 5 above happens.

That said, use DKI with caution: make sure you’re not inserting misspellings or other awkward phrases into your ad copy!

Step 7: Include a Price in Your Ad Copy

An old adage in classified advertising says that if you don’t include a price in your ad, people will assume you’re selling something expensive.

Calm those fears by including the price in your ad upfront. Even better, include the price in the ad headline — it’ll attract attention and clicks.

Step 8: Include Action Words in Your Ad Copy

Including action words (e.g., exclusive, limited time, online only, 1-day sale, etc.) adds a sense of urgency to your offering. Adding urgency encourages click-throughs.

Step 9: Include Symbols in Your Ad Copy

If applicable, include symbols such as ©, ™, ®, and even the plus sign (+) or ellipses (…) can make a significant difference in CTR. Symbols make your ad stand out on the page.

Step 10: Use Ad Extensions

Google offers several different types of ad extensions: Location, Phone, Products, and Sitelinks. Take advantage of them. While these don’t display on every search, you’ll take up valuable screen real estate when they do show up.

Step 11: Be Creative With Your Ad Copy

Let’s face it: There’s not a lot of space in PPC ad copy. With only 25 characters for a headline and 70 for a description, it’s tempting to put “just the facts” in your ad copy and forget about being creative.

Don’t! When I’ve tested ad copy that I thought was too “wacky” to be effective, I’ve often been surprised by the results.

Remember, PPC often generates results in a short period of time, so if an ad isn’t working, you can always pause it. You might even try an ad like this:

Step 12: Engage in Ad Copy Testing

Ad copy testing is one of the biggest benefits of PPC, yet I’m always surprised by the number of advertisers who don’t take advantage of it. The most successful PPC advertisers are continually testing and refining ad copy — take a page from their book and set up your own tests now!
Go ahead — give a few of the 12 steps a try!

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Search Engine Watch on March 23, 2011.

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I’m Dreaming Of Separate Bids for Search Partners

Seems like everybody has a PPC wishlist at this time of year. Earlier this week, my good friend Matt Van Wagner published a great post on Search Engine Land called 7 Things On My Google AdWords Wishlist For Santa. I agree with everything on his list, and hope that all of us PPCers find those fine gifts under our tree next weekend.

Yesterday, there was another fun SEL post from Conrad Saam called A Letter from Santa To The Search Community, which was also fun. Give both of these posts a read, if you haven’t already.

All these wishes are fine and good, but the one thing I’m wishing for this holiday is the ability to set separate bids for Google Search Partners. Why this hasn’t rolled out already is a mystery to me. If I had to guess, I’d say that Google doesn’t want to lose the revenue from search partners when people bid less for them. But partners don’t always perform worse than Google – in fact, I’ve seen many instances with our clients where partners actually perform better than Google.

We already have the ability to opt out of partners entirely – why not give us a chance to opt back in with separate bids? C’mon, Google – you quit sending out great holiday gifts years ago; can’t you at least grant us this one wish?

What’s on your PPC wish list this year?

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Don’t Do What I Tell You To Do

As a mom, it pains me to say that. I’m constantly harping on my teenage twins to do what I tell them to do – and half the time, they do the opposite, thus frustrating the heck out of my husband and me.

So how can I bring myself to tell you, PPC friends, not to do what I tell you?

This week was a busy one in the SEM world with Pubcon Vegas, which wrapped up yesterday. Twitter was alive with Pubcon tweets – so much so that it was hard to keep up.

But there was one Twitter gem from Pubcon that stood out in my mind: “When a speaker says ‘do this’ you should hear ‘test this’.” Tweeted by Ryan Jones and attributed to my friend Brad Geddes, the wisdom stuck with me.

PPC is a smorgasbord of testing goodness – a veritable paradise for a numbers geek like me. Attendees at search conferences will come back with pages of notes full of new ideas to implement in their PPC campaigns. PPC newbies, especially, will be tempted to take the word of the “experts” as the law of the land. Heck, I’m one of the experts that will be speaking at SES Chicago next week, imparting wisdom upon PPC rookies.

Admittedly, there are some basic rules every PPC manager needs to follow. But in general, don’t blindly do what we tell you to do! What works great for one campaign may be a huge flop in another. Nearly everything that’s worth doing in PPC is worth testing first. That’s what I love about PPC – the ability to test just about anything and learn from it.

So next week at SES, when a speaker says “do this,” make sure you hear “test this.”

(Hey, maybe that’s what my kids are doing – testing it for themselves….)

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Don’t Blow Off Your PPC Agency’s Strategy Meetings

As you probably know, I’ve done PPC in both an in-house and agency setting. One of the things that puzzles me about agency life is the number of clients who seem to put their agency on “ignore” after hiring them.

When you’re an in-house SEM, you can’t delete the emails from your boss asking for a meeting, nor can you let all their calls go to voice mail. Chances are you’re heavily involved in marketing planning and strategy sessions, too. So why do clients blow off their agency’s requests for meetings?

There are a couple of reasons I can think of. First off, I think some clients have the mentality that they hired an agency so they won’t have to think about SEM. The last thing they want is yet another meeting to talk about stuff that they don’t want to be bothered with (i.e. SEM).

Another reason could be that the client’s afraid the agency will try to upsell them in the meeting. This is a valid concern – and for all you agency folks out there who use every conversation with a client to try to sell them on more services or a bigger budget, please stop. Now. You’re doing the rest of us a disservice.

As a client, why should you take time out of your busy day to talk to your agency? Well, I’ll tell you why.

Your agency needs to be in the loop.

Certainly your agency doesn’t need to know every little thing that goes on in your company every day. If that were the case, you’d be better off hiring someone in-house. But when it comes to some things, your agency absolutely does need to know in order to continue to provide services that are of value to your business. Here are just a few things that your agency needs to be aware of:

• Website changes, especially pages that get moved , deleted, or added
• Shifts in marketing strategy and messaging
• New product launches
• Pricing changes
• Other marketing campaigns you may be doing, even if they’re not SEM campaigns

There are many more, but you get the picture. In my experience, agency strategy meetings are a great forum for these conversations to take place. Of course, you can use the phone or email, too – but if you’re holding regular strategy meetings with your agency, they can help you manage the marketing process and make recommendations for improvement that you may not have thought of.

You need to be in the loop.

The PPC world is constantly changing and evolving sometimes faster than even us PPC pros can keep up with. As a client, you don’t need to study up on every last detail of new PPC launches. However, you do need to be aware of some things that could impact your business either positively or negatively – which is where your agency comes in.

In addition, your PPC agency probably has ideas for new things to try in PPC. They also have their finger on the pulse of your customers by way of the queries people are using to find your business. It behooves you to listen to this information, because it can inform not only your PPC campaigns, but other marketing as well.

Your agency has valuable insight that you should look at.

I’ve written about PPC reporting and what should be included in your agency’s reports. While at a minimum you need to take the time to read the reports, it’s even better if you schedule a meeting or call to go over the reports with your agency contact. After all, they’re the professional, and they likely have insight beyond what’s written on the page that they can share with you. I’ve found that report meetings with clients are often the best way to keep each other in the loop and to brainstorm new ideas for taking campaigns to the next level. The meetings don’t have to be long, and it’s really worth your time.

A good PPC manager won’t waste your time. They’ll handle the day to day business of running your campaigns effectively, and will only contact you when they have good information to share, questions, or insight for you. Do me a favor: don’t screen their calls, and don’t send their emails to your spam box. Take the meetings. You’ll be glad you did.

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How to Successfully Bid on Competitor Brands (and How to Fail)

Should you bid on your competitor’s brand terms in PPC, or shouldn’t you? This question comes up frequently in PPC circles and on Twitter and is frequently written about in PPC blogs. You’ll find arguments both for and against this practice in the PPC universe.

I’m here to tell you that you can successfully bid on competitor brands, and actually see decent conversions from them. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The Wrong Way

As with many things in life, the easy way is the wrong way when it comes to competitor bidding. Here are a few worst practices for competitor bidding.

• Don’t just throw you competitor’s brand into an existing ad group and call it good. PPC engines have a little thing called Quality Score, and you’ll kill yours if you dump competitor brand terms into your existing ad groups, because those keywords won’t be relevant.
• Don’t create a separate ad group in an existing campaign for competitor terms. See above. This won’t help your quality score either.
• Don’t use your usual PPC landing pages for competitor brands. Again, your quality score is going to suffer – in fact, just last week, Google announced that landing page relevance is now playing a bigger part in QS than it had in the past. Using landing pages with no mention of your competition will negatively impact your quality score.

At this point you’re probably saying, “Whoa! Are you telling me I need to create landing pages that mention my competition? Are you nuts?”

Believe it or not, no, I’m not nuts. Let me explain.

The Right Way

• I don’t recommend a landing page that merely contains a random list of your competitors. That would be stupid. Instead, create a comparison landing page with a chart or grid that lists you and your competition, and shows why you are better. This way, you’ll get a better quality score, and you’ll also have a sales tool that will help increase your conversion rate. Check out these examples to see what I mean.
• Consider including competitor brands in your ad copy. I know, this feels uncomfortable – but it just may work. I do recommend testing it – test an ad with a competitor’s brand against an ad without it, and measure the results. You could also use DKI in the ad title to automatically include a competitor’s brand; this often works well.
• Test, test, test; and measure, measure, measure. We’ve had clients for whom bidding on competitor brands worked very well, and clients for whom it absolutely did not. As with anything in the PPC world, it depends on your industry and your individual business.

Bottom line, it is possible to successfully bid on your competition’s brand terms. And I’m sure there are other ways to do it that I haven’t listed. Have you been successful with this? How?

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September Best Of – PPC Edition

When I think of September, I think of back to school. Others must agree with me, because the most popular post on this blog from September was Can An Intern Do Your PPC? Most of the commenters on the post itself and on Twitter agreed that interns are great at helping with PPC, but not so great for running campaigns solo. Give it a read if you haven’t already, and share your thoughts.

In the spirit of back-to-school, here are a couple other posts that are chock-full of great PPC knowledge. I’ve bookmarked both of these, and you should too.

My PPCchat friend Michelle Morgan wrote a hugely helpful how-to post on tracking individual sitelinks in Google Analytics. This is something I had struggled with, so I followed her advice to the letter. While the data in Analytics still doesn’t seem to jive with the data from Adwords, at least I’m getting data now!

Another must-read September blog post comes from my friends at PPC Hero: PPC Task Checklist For Account Success. In fact, this goes hand in hand with my intern post, as it lists tasks that should be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to ensure a successful PPC campaign.

What were your favorite PPC posts in September?

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Can An Intern Do Your PPC?

Interns offer a lot to a business: in general, interns are eager to learn, hardworking, smart, and willing to work for little to no pay. Back in the day, I was a college intern in a local TV station sales department, getting my first taste of real-world marketing – for free.

A lot of SEM companies use interns to help with a variety of tasks. But can an intern run your PPC campaigns?

Of course, this is sort of a loaded question. It absolutely depends on the person. You might get lucky and find an intern who’s actually done some PPC. And of course an intern can help with a lot of PPC tasks. But run an entire campaign? Not so fast.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many companies hire an agency to set up and optimize their PPC campaigns – and then bring the whole thing in-house and give it to an intern. The logic goes something like this: “Well, the agency has this running really well, so we don’t need to pay them for this. We’ll just have an intern watch it for a few hours a week.”

This is a mistake. PPC is not a “set it and forget it” medium. It requires constant attention, monitoring, measuring, and testing. Far too many advertisers have assumed that PPC is really simple, and have ended up wasting thousands of dollars while they tried to figure out how to stop bleeding money. Handing off even a small PPC campaign to an inexperienced intern (or an inexperienced employee, for that matter) and leaving them to their own devices is a recipe for disaster.

What Interns Can Help With:

On the positive side, interns can be a great asset to a PPC team. At Fluency Media, we have used interns for a number of tasks that are invaluably helpful for our client’s PPC campaigns. Here are just a few great intern tasks:

Keyword research.

I personally love doing keyword research: it’s fun and informative, like finding buried treasure. However, it can also be hugely time consuming and tedious. I like to have interns do the initial keyword research and narrow down the list, and then I’ll review and refine further. It’s a great way for interns to learn the process, while still maintaining professional oversight of the final product.

Ad copy writing.

Let’s face it – at some point, even the most creative PPC manager will hit a type of writers block. I find this true especially for campaigns I’ve been managing for a long time – I flat-out run out of new copy ideas to test.

This is where your interns come in. Ask one or two of them to look at your client’s keywords and website, and have them come up with a few copy test ideas. The great thing about copy testing is that there are no wrong answers – as long as the ad is factual, meets editorial guidelines, and delivers on its promise on the landing page, almost anything goes. You can even turn this exercise into a friendly competition – test a couple interns’ ads against each other, or have them go up against you to see who “wins.” Unless your ego is huge, this can be a fun and creative way to breathe new life into a mature campaign.

Budget monitoring.

If you’re a PPC advertiser with a budget limit, someone is going to have to watch it daily to make sure you’re spending the right amount. We usually have one of our interns check our client budgets every day, and notify my which clients need attention. It’s a simple task, but it takes time – and it’s a great way for interns to learn how an individual advertiser’s campaign flows over time, putting them in a good position to take over an account once they have more experience.

Reporting.

I don’t recommend handing over client reporting entirely to an intern, but interns can contribute a lot in terms of pulling data, assembling charts, and acting as a second pair of eyes on your data. An astute intern will notice when trends don’t match up or when numbers don’t make sense – and this is really important for any busy PPC manager. Even if you’re really on top of your campaigns, things can sometimes slide through. Our interns have discovered issues with tracking codes and client-side slip-ups, and have saved me an uncomfortable conversation by pointing out these issues before a report ever leaves our office.

How have you used interns to help with your PPC campaigns?

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Why PPC and SEO Engagements Fail

Nobody likes to talk about failure. Most times, we’d probably like to pretend there is no such thing. Truth be told, though, you haven’t learned anything in life unless you’ve failed. I’m willing to bet that every PPC and SEO manager who’s been doing this for any length of time has had one campaign or client that they’d consider a failure. While failure is part of life, there are ways to minimize it when it comes to SEM.

The #1 Reason Why SEM Engagements Fail

In my 10 years of experience doing PPC and SEM, the overwhelming #1 reason why engagements fail is due to a lack of goal-setting at the beginning. Sometimes clients (or bosses, if you’re in-house) are so anxious to “start a PPC campaign” that they don’t take the time to figure out what their goals are.

If your client website doesn’t have conversion tracking enabled, lacks a call to action, and doesn’t make it clear what you want visitors to do when they get there; your campaign has no goals, and is doomed. If your client doesn’t have a unique selling proposition (USP), then you’re almost certainly doomed as well.

While it may take a few days or even weeks to establish campaign goals, this is the one step that cannot be skipped when embarking on an SEM engagement. After all, if you have no goal or destination, how do you know when you’ve gotten there?

Other Common Reasons for SEM Failure

The next most common issue I’ve run into that dooms an SEM engagement, especially SEO, is lack of client uptake. While there are a lot of things an SEM can do on their own without any client involvement, implementation of code changes, SEO recommendations, and other technical aspects are often not on that list. SEO simply will not make any impact whatsoever if it’s not implemented.

This can be a tough challenge to overcome – in fact, if it’s not addressed during the sales process, it can be extremely difficult to get the client on board. Setting expectations up front by letting the client know that there will be some effort involved on their part during the engagement will help ensure that projects move forward without frustration on either the part of the SEO or the client.

Tracking code installation falls into the technical bucket too. Even if SEO isn’t part of your service offering, a PPC campaign needs at least one tracking system (and preferably more than one) in order to optimize the campaigns. We strongly prefer to use the free conversion tracking provided by Adwords and adCenter in addition to the client’s web analytics software. While no 2 systems will match exactly, differences of more than 5% to 10% in data usually indicate a problem with one or both systems. And it goes without saying that being able to log in to your PPC account and see conversion data down to the campaign, ad group, keyword, and placement level makes campaign management go much more quickly.

But if you have a client that cannot get conversion tracking installed, be wary of taking on the engagement. Otherwise, you’ll only be able to optimize for click-through rate – and as most of us know, CTR does not necessarily correlate with conversion rate.

Some Campaigns are Just Doomed

Sometimes, despite an SEM’s best efforts, even a well-thought-out and well-executed campaign will fail. Some businesses are just not suited to SEM – for instance, inexpensive, commodity products in a competitive industry will have a hard time making money on PPC – often, more is spent getting a click than the advertiser earns for each sale. And some websites will never rank well organically, due to crawlability issues, technical problems, or other reasons.

Some engagements, especially complicated, expensive B to B lead gen processes, will also have a hard time showing ROI. While some clients understand and accept the amount of time and expense needed to generate that one sale per month, other clients are just not going to be happy with a cost per conversion of $1,000 or more.

When faced with this type of engagement, think long and hard about whether you want to take it on. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans end up, well, failing.

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How Not To Use Your Agency’s PPC Reports

People hire PPC agencies for a number of reasons:they want to use PPC, but don’t know how; or they’ve tried it but found it too complicated and time consuming.I’ve worked on both sides of the desk, in-house and agency, so I definitely see the advantages of each approach – and there are times where it just makes sense to hire an agency rather than try to do PPC yourself.

Any PPC agency worth its salt will provide some type of reporting on a regular basis.Some reports are more useful than others, but that’s a topic for another post.No matter what type of report you’re getting, there are ways to make use of the information, and ways not to.Here are some ways you should NOT use your agency reports.

Nitpicking over small details.

Ideally, your agency reports will include not only detailed data, but high-level insight and analysis.Even if the analysis is lacking, though, don’t obsess over minutiae.Focusing on one keyword’s stats, or one day’s data, is not a good use of your time – nor of your agency’s time responding to the inevitable questions you’ll have.You’re paying your agency to obsess over these details, precisely so you don’t have to.Don’t waste your time worrying about minor details that really don’t factor in to the big picture.

Ignoring the reports entirely.

Believe it or not, this is more common than you may think.A surprising number of clients receive their weekly or monthly report email and file it away without even opening it.On the one hand, maybe these clients trust their agency so completely that they aren’t worried about their account’s performance at all – sort of like the thousands of people who file away their 401K statements without ever looking at them.But just like a 401K, PPC performance can vary – and a good client will want to be aware of these variations.

Furthermore, a good report will contain not only data, but recommendations for future improvements such as landing page or website changes, shopping cart suggestions, and other information.(If only our 401K statements came with this info!)A good PPC manager can do a lot of great things without client involvement, but website changes often not are on that list.As the client, this is the stuff you’ll need to do – so ignore it at your own peril.

Taking the information and then trying to do things yourself.

I think some clients consciously try to use their agency as a training school, learning as much as they can so they can take everything in-house.Let me be clear – I’m not saying that no one should ever take things in-house.There are many instances where this makes a lot of sense:when the account has grown to the point that it warrants a full-time person managing it, for instance.

I’m also not saying that taking PPC training courses from qualified teachers such as Brad Geddes from Certified Knowledge is bad.Far from it!I’m a huge fan of continuous learning and training, and everyone, from agency managers to in-house PPC’ers, should take advantage of as much training as they can.

What I am saying is that it’s unfair to hire an agency under the guise of a vendor-client relationship, and use them to set up and optimize your account and make a bunch of recommendations – and then take the whole thing in-house in 3 months.

If you need help with initial start-up and optimization, that’s perfectly fine – but be honest about it!Tell the agency that you’re looking for a short-term commitment and you need help getting things off the ground.Some agencies will be fine with this, and some won’t – but in any agency-client relationship, a good fit is key to getting optimal results.Pretending you’re going to be a long-term partner, and then dumping the agency 3 months in, is not the best use of your money or the agency’s time.As the old adage goes, honesty is the best policy – and the best way to get what you really want out of the relationship.

If you’re thinking about hiring an agency, or if you’re already using one, I highly recommend my friend and fellow PPC Chatter Robert Brady’s post on agency reports, It’s Client Reporting, Not Training.It’s a great read, and it helped inspire this post. Thanks, Robert!

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PPC Ad Testing: “Can” vs. “Should”

I love PPC for a number of reasons. It’s fast and effective, it doesn’t require a ton of money to use, and there are few other marketing channels that make ad testing so easy and effective.

But as much as I love PPC ad testing, I feel the need for caution. Like a kid in a candy store, PPC managers often have trouble choosing what to test. Just because you CAN test 20 things at once doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

One of the best things about PPC is the fact that you can run an almost unlimited number of tests. You can test 10 different ad variations if you want to. If you’re using display, you can even test text ads vs. image ads. Within the image ads bucket, you can test rich media, animation, several different sizes….. You get the picture.

I’ve found that new PPC advertisers (and clients) see this buffet of choices and try to pile one of each on their small appetizer plate. They set up a multitude of ad tests right away, before they’ve launched a single campaign or gathered one iota of data. The thinking is, “we’re not sure what will work, so let’s try them all!”

To an extent, they’re right. With a brand new advertiser and a brand new campaign, you really don’t know what will work. Because PPC generates a lot of data so quickly, in some ways it’s logical to test every option so you can get that data as fast as you can.

But let’s think about this for a second. Way back in business school, we learned about a little thing called opportunity cost. Opportunity cost takes into account a few key factors.

Time.

The mere task of setting up 10 or more ad tests can be daunting, even to an experienced PPC manager. What copy will we use in each variation? What exactly are we testing? Even with a tool like Adwords Editor, it takes time to set up each variation – and it’s compounded by the number of ad groups you’re working with.

There’s also the issue of the amount of time it takes to get results. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you need 100 clicks on each ad for statistical significance, and you estimate it’ll take a week to get that many clicks in each cell. If you’re running 2 ads, that’s 200 clicks – but if you’re running 10 ads, that’s 1,000 clicks. You’ve just turned a 1-week test into a 5-week test. And in the meantime, you may be running an ad that’s losing money – which you won’t find out for 5 weeks. Yikes.

Margin of error.

The more information you’re working with, whether it be text or data, the higher the chance of making a mistake. How many of us have copied and pasted the wrong ad copy into an ad group? How many of us have made a crucial typo in ad copy? (Side story: Years ago when I worked in newspaper classifieds, we ran a real estate display ad for an open house at a $300,000 home, complete with a lovely photo of the sprawling manse – and put $30,000 in the ad copy. Needless to say, the open house was mobbed with unqualified buyers. We got a pleasant call from the REALTOR the next morning that I can’t repeat here. And no, this wasn’t my error. But it sure was memorable.)

The margin for error is even greater when it comes to analyzing test data. Running statistical significance on all the permutations in a huge multivariate test is not a ton of fun – and a math mistake can cost thousands of dollars.

Money.

By now it’s pretty clear how a complicated test can cost you actual dollars and cents. If a test takes too long, you might be paying for losing ads for weeks or even months. And if you make a mistake in ad copy or in analysis, that’ll cost you, too.

The moral of the story is, just because you CAN test all kinds of fancy things in PPC doesn’t mean you SHOULD test them. Using a systematic approach is much better (and easier) in the long run.

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