How Ignoring Match Types Can Kill Your PPC Campaign

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Advertising
How Ignoring Match Types Can Kill Your PPC Campaign

New advertisers have no trouble adding keywords to their paid search campaign, but far too many fail to change the keyword match types. We’ve seen a number of first-time advertisers creating campaigns with dozens of keywords, but who leave them all set to broad match. Sure, you’ll generate a lot of impressions, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.

You’ll generate a lot of impressions with broad match keywords, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.

The cold hard truth: Leaving your keywords set to broad match is a great way to lose money and ensure your campaign is DOA. Here’s a rundown of the match types offered by Google AdWords & Bing Ads and how they work with your keywords. Be sure to leverage the appropriate match types for each of your keywords to create healthy traffic for your ads.

How Match Types Work With Keywords

Paid search campaigns work by using keywords to trigger ads for relevant searches that take place on search engines like Google & Bing. Your ads are triggered when a user conducts a search that contains your keyword. If your keyword “shoes” is set to broad, your ad could show up if a user searches for “women’s shoes.” Match types give you control over how closely search queries need to match your keywords in order to trigger your ads. They’re an additional layer of control over your keywords that let you target the searcher’s intent. If you want to target buyers of shoes, you could add the keyword “buy shoes” as a phrase match which would make you eligible to display your ads for searches like “where can I buy shoes online.”

Match Types At a Glance

paid search match type table

Match Types from Google AdWords

How Match Types Affect Impressions

In general, the broader the match type, the more impressions it will generate with less relevance. The narrower the match type, the more relevant the impressions will be, but with less volume. To put it differently, you can use a few broad keywords to create a campaign that will generate a high number of ad impressions, but you will find that these impressions are for somewhat irrelevant searches. Conversely, you could use a few exact match keywords to create a campaign that will result in very relevant ad impressions, but with low volume.

Keyword Match Types

  • Broad Match – This is the broadest match type (obviously). It has high traffic potential but with less relevance. Important individual words could be omitted and certain words can be added (like “jobs”) that dramatically change the intent of a search. I recommend being very conservative in your usage of broad matched keywords. Use them sparingly, apply lower bids, and check your search queries frequently in order to fine tune your keyword list.
  • Broad Match Modifier – This is similar to broad match. It has high traffic potential and words can still be added to the query. However, with broad match modifier, you can include a + symbol before individual words to require that they be present in the search query in order for your ads to be triggered.
  • Phrase Match – This is the happy medium between broad match and exact match. The keywords must be present and in that order for your ads to display, but words can still be appended before and after them. I recommend using phrase match for most of your keywords.
  • Exact Match – This is the most narrow of the match types. It results in extremely relevant searches because you are able to target an exact query, but the search volume is far lower. Make sure to include exact matched versions of your highest performing search queries.

Please note that you can have multiple instances of each keyword in different match types. You should set lower bids for your broader match types in order to focus your budget on the most relevant searches.

Negative Keyword Match Types

Negative keywords allows you to target keywords that you don’t want to show up for. They also can be used in conjunction with match types for tighter control.

  • Negative Broad – If you don’t want your ads to ever appear if a query contains “jobs,” you can add “jobs” as a broad match negative keyword. Be careful with broad negatives however, as they could create conflicts with your keywords and prevent your ads from appearing for relevant searches.
  • Negative Phrase – If you don’t want your ads to appear if the query contains “print jobs,” add “print jobs” as a phrase match negative keyword. Phrase match negatives are relatively safe if you avoid very common phrases that a reasonable searcher could include.
  • Negative Exact  – If there is a specific irrelevant search query that your ads are frequently showing up for and you don’t want to ever appear for it again, you can add it as an exact match negative keyword. It isn’t worth your time to include exact match negatives for searches that take place once a month, so focus on the high volume search queries you want to exclude.

5 Tips For Creating Effective PPC Ads

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Advertising, Search
5 Tips For Creating Effective PPC Ads

I admit it: I really get a kick out of writing online ads! It’s an opportunity to craft a message that will be seen by thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. But the excitement doesn’t stop there– these ads generate near real-time statistics that let you evaluate their performance and make them even better! If you’re new to online advertising or are looking to be more purposeful in your copywriting strategy, check out these 5 high-impact tips for creating paid search ads.

1. Make Your Headline Count

An ad with an unclear headlineAn ad with a clear headlineDon’t waste this space with 7 purposeless characters! Your headline is the most prominent aspect of your ad so make sure it carries its weight. You have 25 characters of space to take advantage of; use it to make a statement. For ads targeting generic keywords, consider using descriptive headlines that explain your product or service. For ads targeting searches on your brand name, make sure to include your company name as well.

2. Include Keywords in Your Copy

Another helpful trick is to include your keyword in your ad copy whenever appropriate. This reinforces the relevance of your ad to the searcher and will help them see the value in your offer. Google will make keywords (and synonyms) present in your ads bold, which can really make your ad pop.

Ad copy with bolded keywords

Note: Try to avoid stuffing keywords into your ads. Keyword stuffing looks unnatural and confuses the message.

3. Create & Test Multiple Ads

Ads are social creatures… they don’t like to be alone. So never stop at only 1 ad in your campaigns and ad groups. Create 2-3 ad variations and let the networks find and serve the best performing version (you can set your ad rotation to optimize for clicks to let the networks serve the best ads). For example, duplicate your first ad and change the headline to see if that works better. You can also create an ad that highlights a different feature. Your ads are also competing with other companies for your customer so try out a few different messages and let them run. Test a wide variety of messages and you’ll likely learn that your personal favorite failed while another succeeded. Once you find a winner, you can test variations of that ad and pause all the others.

Two ad variations to test

4. Qualify Your Customers

Ad with clear pricingIt’s not hard to get a lot of clicks, but it is hard to get a lot of clicks from qualified people that are willing and able to become your customers. Make sure your ad text qualifies potential customers and prevents clicks from those that will leave your site without converting because your offer isn’t right for them. For example, if most of your competitors typically charge less than you, consider including your price in the ad copy. It may result in fewer clicks, but the clicks you do get will be from customers that are willing to pay that price.

5. Include a Call to Action

ppc ad with a clear call to actionIt’s amazing how many advertisers fail to include a “call to action” at the end of their ad text. This is your chance to tell customers what they should do once they arrive on your site, and it really works! What is your goal? Do you want to drive downloads, collect leads or increase sales? Tell your customers what the next step is and you will see an increase in the number of them that actually follow through.

Note: Make sure your website also echoes this call to action. You don’t want customers that land on your site to be confused about what to do next.

Expand Your Reach with AdStage

Check out our all-in-one online ad platform to create effective campaigns across Google, Facebook, Bing, Twitter, & LinkedIn. AdStage helps you amplify your reach across multiple networks from a single application to grow your business and reach new customers.

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Robert Scoble Interviews AdStage Co-founder & CEO, Sahil Jain

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Advertising

Robert Scoble of Rackspace and Scobleizer interviewed our co-founder and CEO Sahil Jain about AdStage and building online ad campaigns. Check out the full video here!

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Expanding Search Campaigns Up The Purchase Funnel

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in Advertising

Optimize Facebook & Google ad campaigns

Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in Advertising, Search, Social

Last week I posted some basics about launching ad campaigns and setting up ways to track my progress. This week, I want to take a look at my first week’s results and explain what changes I plan to make to optimize my Facebook and Google ad campaigns and why.

So lets see how I did in my first week:

Advertising metrics

Week 1 Dashboard

My dashboard shows some good and bad signs. Most notably, I had three conversions for the week – two on Facebook and one on AdWords. So in three cases, someone saw an ad and signed up at the AdStage homepage. That’s why I’m running these ads, so it’s a positive sign. CPA was about $12 for AdWords and $12.50 for Facebook. I think I can bring these down and analyze what impacts CPA most in coming weeks. This week, there’s no previous state to compare against. Right now my CTR appears to be low – 0.052% on AdWords and 0.03% on Facebook and clearly my campaigns on Bing and LinkedIn were not effective, thus I’ll be making changes for next time.

Here are two good Quora discussions about CTR on both AdWords and Facebook ads. Keep in mind that a campaign’s goal should ultimately be to drive conversions, and it is possible to have a high CTR without driving conversions at a low CPA.

What is a good CTR in an AdWords campaign?
What is a good CTR for a Facebook ad?

In my dashboard, I can also see best and worst performing ads, all of my top performing ads, and other high performing ads of similar companies or companies in a similar space.

Ad performance

Highest and lowest performing ads

Online ads

Other high performing ads & ad suggestions

These insights are really useful, both in making changes to my less performant ads and in incorporating elements of effective similar ads into my own ads.

Social campaign changes

In setting up my first campaigns, I wanted all ad text, headlines, and images as consistent as possible. I discovered a few differences that I adjusted for week 2. This is an issue I ran into partially because updating and adding new ads to each campaign while comparing for consistency across networks can be a pain.

For Facebook, I highly recommend using the power editor once you have more than a few ads and definitely once you have multiple campaigns. You can perform lots of useful actions that would otherwise move very slowly in the typical interface. For instance, you can duplicate ads and whole campaigns, and you can quickly edit ad details like the ad copy and images.

Here’s what the power editor looks like. You can see many options within the interface. With your own ad data in the editor, you’ll see it’s real power.

Facebook power editor

Power Editor

LinkedIn and AdWords have better interfaces and you can easily duplicate and edit your ads.

I should have also mentioned last week that you can import AdWords campaigns into BingAds. This will speed up launching your BingAds campaigns and it will ensure that your Bing and Google campaigns are the same. (I’ll warn you that Bing calls this a beta feature, and the first time I tried it, it did not work. However, the second time I tried, it did work.)

Bing Import from Google AdWords

Bing Import from Google AdWords

My next optimization was in network targeting. As I mentioned above, I had a few inconsistencies between my Facebook and LinkedIn ads. For my cross-channel campaigns, I want as much consistency as possible. Beyond the actual ads themselves, I also had targeting inconsistencies within my Facebook ads. To fix this, I took the targeting my top performing ad and made it the targeting for all of my Facebook ads. This way, I can start comparing apples to apples (ie. i can compare the ad headlines, ad text directly since the targeting is the same).

LinkedIn targeting needed a lot of change. I initially setup to target job titles and groups. This gave me an audience of about 20,000 users related to marketing and advertising. I expected my ads to be highly relevant to the audience and result in a high percentage of conversions. Instead, the audience was so small and I had hardly any impressions at all and didn’t engage any users. In week two, I’ll try targeting job function to gain a broader audience of about 1,000,000 users. Those users will still find my ads relevant, but the larger audience should result in more impressions, clicks, and hopefully more conversions.

Search campaign changes

My search campaigns also needed some optimizations – primarily concerning my keyword bids. On BingAds, I somehow didn’t change my chosen bid from the minimum allowed bid of $0.30. Beginner’s mistake! This was the first thing I did to improve my BingAds campaign. I checked my AdWords campaign’s keyword bids (which I set to auto-bid) and the average CPC was about $2.00. I switched out the old minimum bid on BingAds and matched it to my AdWords average. As I move further along, I will do more analysis on these changes and the predicted improvement I expect to see. For now, there are more obvious adjustments I need to make first.

While the auto-bidding for AdWords worked well since I didn’t know quite what to bid, it also resulted in an overpriced, low value click. Partly at fault for this click was that I included many keywords in my first week, some of which were not highly related to AdStage’s primary audience. Also partly at fault was that I did not set a bid maximum in AdWords. Specifically, I paid $4.14 for a click on an ad that displayed when someone searched for “ppc programs“. The chance of a conversion coming from that search term would seem to be very small.

Here’s a look at my week one keyword activity and my dashboard suggestions for new keywords:

There are three major lessons that come to mind specifically from week one.

  1. Pay attention to your keywords. You may find a good list or come up with your own list, but make sure most of your keywords are directly related to your product and company. Otherwise you risk paying for clicks that will not result in conversions. Google provides a good keyword tool that can help you here. You can do some simple searches to figure out possible good keywords.
  2. Make sure your bids are thought out. While you might not know anything about bids right away, there are some quick ways to learn. Bing offers good information like – whether your bid is likely to place your ad on the first page, the first ad slot, or otherwise. Set a bid that will land you the result you’re looking for. For me, a mainline (an ad placed in any position 1-4 in the top of search results) position and bid is the goal. Though, paying a little extra to guarantee top ad placement may be worth it for certain keywords. It all depends on how you much you value a given keyword. AdWords gives you less information about bidding, but a quick tip is to use auto-bidding and set a bid maximum. That way you’ll get the AdWords intelligence, while not paying more than you’re comfortable with for any given keyword.
  3. Double check your targeting. A good balance of size of audience and relevance of audience is most effective. As I saw, my relevance may have been good, but my audience (at least on LinkedIn) prevented my ads from getting enough exposure to have a successful campaign.

Those were my changes in the first week. Some of these changes could have been addressed before I even launched campaigns in the first place. This is part of the learning process and I’m already learning to take advantage of the tools I put in place specifically to help me optimize my campaigns. Hopefully pointing my mistakes out and showing how and why I’m changing my campaigns will help you build your own successful campaigns.

Thanks for reading and check out AdStage if you would like a great, simple way to compare your campaigns and get insights to improve your campaigns in one, well designed dashboard.

If you have any questions or need any help with your campaigns, please let me know. You can reach me at clark@adstage.io with anything on your mind – questions, comments, critiques, suggestions for future posts, or just to say hi.

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Setting up AdWords & Facebook campaigns

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Advertising, Social

In the first post I asked some important questions, made some predictions, and identified some of the main differences I know of between Search & Social ad networks. Now it’s time to launch my first campaigns. I’ll start by setting campaigns on Facebook and Google AdWords.

First, Go to www.facebook.com/ads/create (assuming you have a Facebook account) and pick a destination site.

Facebook advertising

I want to setup specific destination urls for each network with custom UTMs (this is simply a string of text appended to a site’s url) that lets me know where traffic to our site comes from. Google provides a great free tool to build urls with custom UTM information here.

Now I can build my first ad with a headline, text, and a photo. The goal of these characteristics is to attract and grab a user’s attention. This week, I created a variety of ads with different images, headlines, and ad text. This will let me easily compare the performance of my different ads and get an idea of which ads are working.

Facebook advertising

Here’s a good point to discuss some basic ad terminology. To start with, there are three key terms that are fairly self explanatory – an impression is simply someone seeing your ad, clicks occur when someone clicks on your ad, and a conversion is when someone performs a set of actions defined by the advertiser.

Connected to these terms are CPM, CPC, and CPA. CPM refers to cost per mille or cost per 1000 impressions, CPC refers to cost per click, and CPA refers to cost per acquisition. On most networks CPM and CPC are the common budget methods.

Facebook advertising

Creating similar campaigns across a few networks (ie. LinkedIn, BingAds, & AdWords) will let me compare network performance with some control. Each week, I’ll tweak my campaigns. The different audiences, different character counts, and different targeting options all give me ways to optimize my campaigns as I learn more. This leads me to an important discussion of some network differences.

Differences between the networks

Facebook and LinkedIn’s network targeting differences that are worth pointing out. Facebook can target precise interests that users have identified like marketing or advertising, broad categories like small business owners, along with social connections, workplace, education, relationship status, and more. LinkedIn similarly targets people, but with much more focus on business information like job title or function and skills.

Networks also differ in the amount of characters they allow. It may seem insignificant, but it is good to be aware. Both Facebook and LinkedIn, let you can use 25 characters in the title. In ad text, LinkedIn allows 75 characters, while Facebook allows 90 characters. This may lead you to customize your Facebook ads using that extra space. AdWords and BingAds share the same character count limits.

AdWords and BingAds also use similar targeting, but with a few exceptions. Both have simple targeting options like the device you want to target (ie. only laptops), location, and language. On BingAds, you have the additional ability to increase or decrease keyword bids (how much you’re willing to pay for a given keyword) depending on the age and gender of the person searching.

Now, I’ll walk through the process of building an AdWords campaign.

Head to adwords.google.com and select the campaigns tab on the top left (create an account if you don’t have one already).

AdWords

On the next page, you will see a New Campaign button. You’ll have options to make your campaign Search only, Search & Display, or Display only. I started with Search Network only.

Setting up an AdWords campaign

AdWords gives you options for several types of ads and targeting, but I am building a standard search text ad for people within the United States using laptops or desktop computers. This is also where you decide your bid and budget (automatic bidding is also an option). You can adjust these settings to fit your company best. For my first campaign, I created a budget of $5/day and let Google automatically decide on my keyword bids.

Setting up an AdWords campaign

Next, I create my first AdWords ad. I need to create an ad group, and from the same screen I can setup my first ad and keywords I would like to bid on.

Setting up an AdWords campaign

If you have no idea what a good ad is, there are a few easy ways to start. Search Google for your competitors or keywords that fit your company and take a look at those ads as a first step. Your ads will get better over time as you iterate on what you find. Take a look at a quick search I did for “advertising analytics dashboard”. Right away, I have some idea of what competitor’s ads look like and what keywords might work for AdStage.

Keywords

A couple other quick tips:

  • Fill your ads with keywords you’ll be targeting
  • Have a clear, simple call to action
  • Try things like “Sign up Today” or “Free” – clear incentives should improve your conversions
  • Use Google’s keyword suggestions (shown below in right-hand column)

Adding keywords to AdWords

The next page is a view of my ad group where I can see my ads, create new ads, add keywords, change settings, enable or disable my ad group, change my default bid, and much more.

AdWords ad group

That’s the process of setting up a social campaign and a search campaign. They are slightly different, but with the Facebook and AdWords examples you can replicate the process through BingAds and LinkedIn as you wish. The best way to get a feel for setting up campaigns is to simply explore the interfaces yourself.

Now that I’ve setup campaigns, I want to track their performance. Check out Part 3 to learn how to hook up Google Analytics and AdStage for tracking the success of my campaigns.

Thanks for reading and check out AdStage if you would like a great, simple way to compare your campaigns and get insights to improve your campaigns in one, well designed dashboard.

If you have any questions or need any help with your campaigns, please let me know. You can reach me at clark@adstage.io with anything on your mind – questions, comments, critiques, suggestions for future posts, or just to say hi.

Part 3learn how to hook up Google Analytics and AdStage for tracking the success of my campaigns.

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