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Nov

23

2016

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Best Practices For The New Format

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), announced in July of 2016, are considered by most industry observers to be the biggest change to Google Adwords in 16 years.

Google’s new ETAs provide for an increase of 50 percent more ad space. Plus, ETAs pack in a few other exciting features as well.

Numerous strategies and best practices have been developed over the years for the standard text ad format, but unfortunately, most of these don’t translate to expanded text ads. And, businesses are now having to scramble to update their ads before Google stops supporting the old format in January.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to best handle expanded text ads, let’s get to know them a bit better.

Dissecting the Expanded Text Ad

Below is a comparison between the expanded text ad format and the standard text ad format.

unnamed-3.png

Source

The components of the expanded text ad are as follows:

Two Headlines (Shown in lavender in the left side of the image above)

As opposed to standard text ads, ETAs have two headlines — a main headline and a secondary headline. Each headline can use up to 30 characters, as compared to the prior format of one headline with 25 characters.

Display URL and Path Fields (Shown in Green)

When creating ETAs, the final URL has to be entered first (above the headlines) and the display URL is created automatically based on that. There are two optional path fields available to extend the display URL by up to 15 characters each.

Description (Shown in Gray)

ETAs have one long description field with a maximum length of 80 characters. This compares to two fields of 35 characters each with standard text ads.

Now that we’ve gone over the guts of what makes ETAs, let’s get started on some best practices in order to take full advantage of them.

1) Use Keywords and Convincing Copy in Your Headlines

The main headline is the section that most people will see first and pay attention to. Put your most vital information here and make sure to include the main keyword you are targeting in the associated ad group. If you have a long keyword term, then just put your entire keyword in the main headline.

The secondary headline is best for supporting information. This is where you’ll reference the main benefit or USP of your product or service, or stress the urgency of your offer.

Keep in mind that your secondary headline may not always be shown in full. This is because, while you’re allowed up to 30 characters, Google determines ad display based on pixel-count. For example, wider characters such as “W” take up more space. So, if your two headlines go over the allowed number of pixels, Google may trim down your secondary headline. In most cases, your ad preview will show how your ad will look but it is a good idea to allow some breathing room. 

headline-eta.png

Unlike standard text ads, you can now do so much more after adding your keywords. You have some creative freedom to craft a headline that demands attention. Use language that will appeal to your target audience to convince them to interact with your ad. This combination is sure to increase your click-through rates considerably.

Below is an example of an expanded text ad that has been very successful. It blends in keywords (DDoS Protection and Stop DDoS) very well with urgency and value-add.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.25.07_PM.png

Here is another example of a compelling ETA. It combines keywords (User Behavior Analytics) effectively with an attractive offer (Free Guide) and the target audience (CISO).

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.28.27_PM.png

2) Utilize the Description to Differentiate Your Product or Service

After grabbing attention with your headline, use the description to provide supplementary information to convince searchers to click through to your page. The best way to utilize this section is to include an additional benefit, a feature, and a call-to-action (CTA) or offer. A CTA such as “Start Free Trial,” “Shop Now” or “Download Free Guide” will let users know exactly what to expect on your landing page and will boost conversions.

Remember, the description is the final attempt to get a searcher to click-through to your site instead of others—so use your extra description space wisely. Be sure to differentiate your product or service from the competition and make sure that users know why your brand is their best option.

3) Make the Best of the New Display URL

The two new display URL path fields are optional, but you will almost always want to use these. They are excellent places for adding your keywords. If you have a long keyword, you can break it up and use both path fields for your keyword. Otherwise use one field for the keyword and use the other for a call-to-action, especially if you were not able to do this in the description field.

url-paths.png

If you are creating an ad for a keyword containing a competitor name or a trademarked term, you are not allowed to use this keyword in the headlines or the description. But Google does allow you to use such a keyword in the URL path fields. This is the only way that you can get a competitor or trademarked term in your ad copy.

4) Mobile Ad Guidelines

Given that a large chunk of your audience will be using mobile devices to view your ads, you need to make sure that your ad works well on mobile.

With standard text ads, Adwords allowed you to create separate mobile ads. However, ETAs don’t differentiate between devices, which means that the same ad and the same copy will be displayed to searchers across all devices. ETAs viewed from a mobile device may have headlines broken up into two lines if they’re too long. Because of this, it is important to format your ads in a way that will work effectively both on desktop and mobile devices.

The mobile preview feature in the ad editor will show you how your mobile ad will likely look and you can adjust your copy based on that.

mobile-ad-eta.png

5) A/B Test Your New and Old Format Ads

While ETAs may show up for all the keywords in your ad group, they won’t necessarily attract more clicks than your standard text ads. In fact, it’s possible that you may even see a decline in your click through rate (CTR).

Instead of dropping your old ads right away, try adding ETAs to the same ad groups with old ads that have served you well in the past. Compare the performance of the two, and alter and evolve your ETAs until they match or surpass your standard text ads.

In most of our tests though, the expanded text ads have performed significantly better than standard ads. Below are some A/B tests that we have run.

A/B Test 1: The 2 ETAs below had a combined CTR of 10.9% – an improvement of 26% over the already excellent 8.62% CTR of the old standard text ad during the same timeframe.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_7.16.47_PM.png
A/B Test 2: The ETA below had a CTR of 5.49% – an improvement of 54% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.41.50_PM.png
A/B Test 3: The ETA below had a CTR of 3.36% – an improvement of 167% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.53.17_PM.png

6) Increasing Quality Score with ETAs

Having a good quality score for your keywords and ads is an absolute must for success with AdWords. In order to achieve high quality scores, you have to ensure that your ads are as relevant as possible to user search queries. It is also important to achieve a high click through rate for your ads, as this provides a direct signal to Google that users are finding your ad useful. There are a few key things to take into account when creating ETAs which will help your quality score.

You should always include keywords in your headline as well as the display URL path fields. If you are bidding on a competitor name or trademarked term, and do not use it anywhere in your ad copy, you will get a very low quality score. So it is crucial to add these in the path fields of the display URL as we noted in the last section.

You should also use as many ad extensions as possible with your ads. When combined with ETAs, this greatly increases the amount of screen space that you can claim with your ad, leading to high CTRs and high quality scores.

Use ad extensions to further elaborate on the features, benefits, attributes and offers related to your products and services. Since you likely had to shorten these in your main ad, you can use extensions to fill in the gaps. Also add reviews, ratings, location and call information if you have these available, and they are relevant for your business.

For example, consider the ad below that combines an ETA with call, callout, review, and sitelinks (with 2 line descriptions) ad extensions. That’s a significant chunk of Google’s search results page!

sealskin_car_cover_ad.png

7) Changing Old Ads to the New Format

If you have a lot of standard text ads in your account, changing them all over to expanded text ads may seem a bit daunting. You can make your job a little easier by adding new ads in bulk.

You can download your current ads to a CSV file, make all your changes, and then upload them back to your Adwords account. Using this approach will add new expanded text ads in the same ad groups and campaigns as your current ads. It will not remove any of your current ads. Here’s how you do it.

Export Your Current Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Make sure the “All Enabled Ads” option is selected

Step 3: Click Edit > Download Spreadsheet

download-spreadsheet.png

Step 4: Choose Excel .CSV format

Step 5: Click “Advanced editing” and uncheck all boxes except “All Editable Columns”. Then click Download and save the file on your machine. 

Enabled-Ads.png

Make Changes

Step 1: Open the CSV file in Excel

Step 2: For each ad that you want to create an expanded text ad for, add values in the Headline 1, Headline 2, Description, Path 1 and Path 2 columns. You can use values in the Ad, Description line 1 and Description line 2 columns (in the same row) as a guide since these represent your current ad.

ETA-Edit.png

Step 3: Delete the Ad, Description line 1, Description line 2 and Display URL values from the same row.

Step 4: Go to the Ad Type column and change “Text ad” to “Expanded text ad”

change-ad-type.png

Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for each expanded text ad you want to create. NOTE: If you are new to this process, it will be best if you try and add only one expanded text ad the first time. In this case, you should just delete all rows other than the row you just edited.

Step 6: Save the file as a CSV

Import Your New Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Click Edit > Upload Spreadsheet

Step 3: Choose the file you saved and click Upload and Preview

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.11.52_PM.png

Step 4: Google will now show you the number of ads that will be added. This should be the no. of new expanded text ads that you added in step 2 of the Make Changes section above. If there are any problems with the data you added, it will be shown in this box.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.16.24_PM.png

Step 5: Click on Preview changes. Even if you had any errors in step 4 above, you should do this to determine exactly where the problems are.

Step 6: Verify that each expanded text ad is shown correctly in the preview

preview-ad.png

Step 7: If everything looks good, click Approve changes to add your new ads. If you see any problems here, click Reject changes. Go back to your CSV file in Excel, fix the problems and then try again. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on expanded text ads and how to use them, you can get started on your own ads. Remember, you don’t want to pause your standard ads just yet—these new processes are going to take a bit of practice before you become an expert.

The clock is quickly running out; Google’s last day of standard text ad support is January 31, at which time we’ll all be forced to adopt the new expanded text ad format. Rather than scrambling at the last minute, it’s best to get started now. Work out the kinks and find out the best ad copy that works for you. 

New Call-to-action

Nov

23

2016

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Best Practices For The New Format

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), announced in July of 2016, are considered by most industry observers to be the biggest change to Google Adwords in 16 years.

Google’s new ETAs provide for an increase of 50 percent more ad space. Plus, ETAs pack in a few other exciting features as well.

Numerous strategies and best practices have been developed over the years for the standard text ad format, but unfortunately, most of these don’t translate to expanded text ads. And, businesses are now having to scramble to update their ads before Google stops supporting the old format in January.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to best handle expanded text ads, let’s get to know them a bit better.

Dissecting the Expanded Text Ad

Below is a comparison between the expanded text ad format and the standard text ad format.

unnamed-3.png

Source

The components of the expanded text ad are as follows:

Two Headlines (Shown in lavender in the left side of the image above)

As opposed to standard text ads, ETAs have two headlines — a main headline and a secondary headline. Each headline can use up to 30 characters, as compared to the prior format of one headline with 25 characters.

Display URL and Path Fields (Shown in Green)

When creating ETAs, the final URL has to be entered first (above the headlines) and the display URL is created automatically based on that. There are two optional path fields available to extend the display URL by up to 15 characters each.

Description (Shown in Gray)

ETAs have one long description field with a maximum length of 80 characters. This compares to two fields of 35 characters each with standard text ads.

Now that we’ve gone over the guts of what makes ETAs, let’s get started on some best practices in order to take full advantage of them.

1) Use Keywords and Convincing Copy in Your Headlines

The main headline is the section that most people will see first and pay attention to. Put your most vital information here and make sure to include the main keyword you are targeting in the associated ad group. If you have a long keyword term, then just put your entire keyword in the main headline.

The secondary headline is best for supporting information. This is where you’ll reference the main benefit or USP of your product or service, or stress the urgency of your offer.

Keep in mind that your secondary headline may not always be shown in full. This is because, while you’re allowed up to 30 characters, Google determines ad display based on pixel-count. For example, wider characters such as “W” take up more space. So, if your two headlines go over the allowed number of pixels, Google may trim down your secondary headline. In most cases, your ad preview will show how your ad will look but it is a good idea to allow some breathing room. 

headline-eta.png

Unlike standard text ads, you can now do so much more after adding your keywords. You have some creative freedom to craft a headline that demands attention. Use language that will appeal to your target audience to convince them to interact with your ad. This combination is sure to increase your click-through rates considerably.

Below is an example of an expanded text ad that has been very successful. It blends in keywords (DDoS Protection and Stop DDoS) very well with urgency and value-add.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.25.07_PM.png

Here is another example of a compelling ETA. It combines keywords (User Behavior Analytics) effectively with an attractive offer (Free Guide) and the target audience (CISO).

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.28.27_PM.png

2) Utilize the Description to Differentiate Your Product or Service

After grabbing attention with your headline, use the description to provide supplementary information to convince searchers to click through to your page. The best way to utilize this section is to include an additional benefit, a feature, and a call-to-action (CTA) or offer. A CTA such as “Start Free Trial,” “Shop Now” or “Download Free Guide” will let users know exactly what to expect on your landing page and will boost conversions.

Remember, the description is the final attempt to get a searcher to click-through to your site instead of others—so use your extra description space wisely. Be sure to differentiate your product or service from the competition and make sure that users know why your brand is their best option.

3) Make the Best of the New Display URL

The two new display URL path fields are optional, but you will almost always want to use these. They are excellent places for adding your keywords. If you have a long keyword, you can break it up and use both path fields for your keyword. Otherwise use one field for the keyword and use the other for a call-to-action, especially if you were not able to do this in the description field.

url-paths.png

If you are creating an ad for a keyword containing a competitor name or a trademarked term, you are not allowed to use this keyword in the headlines or the description. But Google does allow you to use such a keyword in the URL path fields. This is the only way that you can get a competitor or trademarked term in your ad copy.

4) Mobile Ad Guidelines

Given that a large chunk of your audience will be using mobile devices to view your ads, you need to make sure that your ad works well on mobile.

With standard text ads, Adwords allowed you to create separate mobile ads. However, ETAs don’t differentiate between devices, which means that the same ad and the same copy will be displayed to searchers across all devices. ETAs viewed from a mobile device may have headlines broken up into two lines if they’re too long. Because of this, it is important to format your ads in a way that will work effectively both on desktop and mobile devices.

The mobile preview feature in the ad editor will show you how your mobile ad will likely look and you can adjust your copy based on that.

mobile-ad-eta.png

5) A/B Test Your New and Old Format Ads

While ETAs may show up for all the keywords in your ad group, they won’t necessarily attract more clicks than your standard text ads. In fact, it’s possible that you may even see a decline in your click through rate (CTR).

Instead of dropping your old ads right away, try adding ETAs to the same ad groups with old ads that have served you well in the past. Compare the performance of the two, and alter and evolve your ETAs until they match or surpass your standard text ads.

In most of our tests though, the expanded text ads have performed significantly better than standard ads. Below are some A/B tests that we have run.

A/B Test 1: The 2 ETAs below had a combined CTR of 10.9% – an improvement of 26% over the already excellent 8.62% CTR of the old standard text ad during the same timeframe.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_7.16.47_PM.png
A/B Test 2: The ETA below had a CTR of 5.49% – an improvement of 54% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.41.50_PM.png
A/B Test 3: The ETA below had a CTR of 3.36% – an improvement of 167% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.53.17_PM.png

6) Increasing Quality Score with ETAs

Having a good quality score for your keywords and ads is an absolute must for success with AdWords. In order to achieve high quality scores, you have to ensure that your ads are as relevant as possible to user search queries. It is also important to achieve a high click through rate for your ads, as this provides a direct signal to Google that users are finding your ad useful. There are a few key things to take into account when creating ETAs which will help your quality score.

You should always include keywords in your headline as well as the display URL path fields. If you are bidding on a competitor name or trademarked term, and do not use it anywhere in your ad copy, you will get a very low quality score. So it is crucial to add these in the path fields of the display URL as we noted in the last section.

You should also use as many ad extensions as possible with your ads. When combined with ETAs, this greatly increases the amount of screen space that you can claim with your ad, leading to high CTRs and high quality scores.

Use ad extensions to further elaborate on the features, benefits, attributes and offers related to your products and services. Since you likely had to shorten these in your main ad, you can use extensions to fill in the gaps. Also add reviews, ratings, location and call information if you have these available, and they are relevant for your business.

For example, consider the ad below that combines an ETA with call, callout, review, and sitelinks (with 2 line descriptions) ad extensions. That’s a significant chunk of Google’s search results page!

sealskin_car_cover_ad.png

7) Changing Old Ads to the New Format

If you have a lot of standard text ads in your account, changing them all over to expanded text ads may seem a bit daunting. You can make your job a little easier by adding new ads in bulk.

You can download your current ads to a CSV file, make all your changes, and then upload them back to your Adwords account. Using this approach will add new expanded text ads in the same ad groups and campaigns as your current ads. It will not remove any of your current ads. Here’s how you do it.

Export Your Current Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Make sure the “All Enabled Ads” option is selected

Step 3: Click Edit > Download Spreadsheet

download-spreadsheet.png

Step 4: Choose Excel .CSV format

Step 5: Click “Advanced editing” and uncheck all boxes except “All Editable Columns”. Then click Download and save the file on your machine. 

Enabled-Ads.png

Make Changes

Step 1: Open the CSV file in Excel

Step 2: For each ad that you want to create an expanded text ad for, add values in the Headline 1, Headline 2, Description, Path 1 and Path 2 columns. You can use values in the Ad, Description line 1 and Description line 2 columns (in the same row) as a guide since these represent your current ad.

ETA-Edit.png

Step 3: Delete the Ad, Description line 1, Description line 2 and Display URL values from the same row.

Step 4: Go to the Ad Type column and change “Text ad” to “Expanded text ad”

change-ad-type.png

Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for each expanded text ad you want to create. NOTE: If you are new to this process, it will be best if you try and add only one expanded text ad the first time. In this case, you should just delete all rows other than the row you just edited.

Step 6: Save the file as a CSV

Import Your New Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Click Edit > Upload Spreadsheet

Step 3: Choose the file you saved and click Upload and Preview

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.11.52_PM.png

Step 4: Google will now show you the number of ads that will be added. This should be the no. of new expanded text ads that you added in step 2 of the Make Changes section above. If there are any problems with the data you added, it will be shown in this box.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.16.24_PM.png

Step 5: Click on Preview changes. Even if you had any errors in step 4 above, you should do this to determine exactly where the problems are.

Step 6: Verify that each expanded text ad is shown correctly in the preview

preview-ad.png

Step 7: If everything looks good, click Approve changes to add your new ads. If you see any problems here, click Reject changes. Go back to your CSV file in Excel, fix the problems and then try again. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on expanded text ads and how to use them, you can get started on your own ads. Remember, you don’t want to pause your standard ads just yet—these new processes are going to take a bit of practice before you become an expert.

The clock is quickly running out; Google’s last day of standard text ad support is January 31, at which time we’ll all be forced to adopt the new expanded text ad format. Rather than scrambling at the last minute, it’s best to get started now. Work out the kinks and find out the best ad copy that works for you. 

New Call-to-action

Jun

8

2016

9 Strategies for Improving Lead Quality From B2B PPC Campaigns

Laptop-with-adwords-screenshot.jpg

You’ve poured thousands of dollars into your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search campaigns and have managed to generate a substantial number of leads. You’re rocking your conversion rates and your cost per lead is great.

So what’s the problem?

It’s only when you start analyzing your results and dig a little deeper that you realize an overwhelming majority of these leads are in essence “junk leads”. Very few are turning into opportunities, let alone customers. The bottom line is, you’re just not seeing a healthy ROI.

In this post, we provide nine proven strategies that you can use to generate better quality, bottom of the funnel leads from your B2B PPC campaigns. Let’s dive in.

1) Set Up Proper Tracking

In order to accurately measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, you need to make sure that you are able to track other important elements besides conversions. This data will allow you to determine which campaign and site a lead came from, the keyword they searched for, the device they were on, and so on.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use UTM Parameters and ValueTrack Parameters. These tags are data that you append to the end of your landing page URLs, and you’ve probably seen them when you clicked a link or ad. They look something like this

 http://www.yourlandingpage.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc

As a best practice, you should use the naming convention specified below and use at least these 6 parameters in your URLs:

utm_table.png

In Google AdWords, the most efficient way to set up tracking parameters is in the “Campaign URL options (advanced)” section under campaign settings. Here, you can enter your parameters after “{lpurl}?” as shown below. The {lpurl} portion will be automatically replaced with the landing page URL that you have set up for each ad within your campaign.

utm_tracking.png 

2) Implement Opportunity Attribution

Once you have your tracking parameters, you need to capture them on your landing pages and store them—along with with other lead details—into the contacts database of your marketing platform. This is usually done by creating hidden fields in your landing page form. You will need one field for each UTM parameter that you have passed to your landing page:

hubspot_form.png

You may first need to create custom fields or properties in your contacts database before you map them to the new hidden fields in your form.

Next, you need to make sure that your contacts or leads data is synced with your CRM and that you are able to view all opportunity data for your leads.

At a minimum, you should be able to view lead status or stage—whether they are a sales qualified lead, marketing qualified lead, opportunity, customer etc.—and the opportunity size or deal amount. If you have lead scoring data associated with each contact, this will be extremely beneficial as well.

Once you have all of the available data, you should create reports to isolate and segment your data. The most important data you want to extract are the number of opportunities, opportunity amount and customers won for each source, campaign, keyword and device, and the name, email, company, lead status/stage, lead score, opportunity amount, source, campaign, keyword and device for each lead.

You will now be able to determine which opportunities are being generated from a particular platform (Google, Bing etc.), campaign, device and keyword. When you combine this with the spend data from your ad platform, you will be able to get your true ROI. 

Opportunities-and-Customers-Screenshot.png 

Next, isolate poor quality leads. If you use lead scoring, look at the leads with the lowest scores. Otherwise look for leads that have provided invalid or junk data in the name, email and company fields. Then check to see what campaigns, devices or keywords these leads have in common.

 

3) Segment Your Campaigns

Many companies make the mistake of setting up campaigns or ad groups for each product or service they have. They don’t dig deeper into the many different ways in which their target audience is searching for the solutions they offer.

You can address this by carefully planning your campaigns in order to segment your offer into as many groups as possible. You can segment by each main feature, benefit, sub category, target industry or geographic location relevant to your product or service.

For example, let’s say you provide web design and development services. You can segment your campaigns as follows:

  • Sub category: Ecommerce Website Design, Custom Website Design, Responsive Web Design, etc.
  • Feature: WordPress Web Design, Magento Development, PHP Development, etc.
  • Benefit: High End Web Design, Agile Web Development, Enterprise Web Development, etc.
  • Target industry: Real Estate Website Design, Restaurant Web Design, Healthcare Website Design, etc.
  • Geographic location: San Francisco Web Design, California Web Design, New York Web Design, etc.

Once you identify the segments you want to go after, you can set up each campaign with the necessary assets: 

  • Keywords: All keywords related to the associated segment
  • Ads: Ad copy customized to that segment
  • Landing Pages: Customized landing page that has content only about that segment

Setting up campaigns in this way allows you to focus your efforts, and will result in better quality leads and increased conversion rates.

4) Target Relevant Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of every paid search campaign, and you need to go wide and deep to identify the best ones for your business. 

The first step is identifying the most focused and relevant keywords. Segment your campaigns as described in the previous section and then search for keyword ideas within each segment. There are a lot of excellent keyword research tools that you can use to find the best keywords.

To attract the best quality leads at the bottom of the funnel, you have to target keywords with searcher intent in mind. For example, when someone searches for “WordPress Website Design Services” you know that they are looking for a company that provides WordPress services.

However, when someone just types in “WordPress Website Design”, you can’t be certain about their intent. They could be looking for services or they could just be looking for a how-to design guide. Location-based searches also convey searcher intent adequately. For example, “San Francisco Web Design” indicates that the searcher is looking for a web design company in San Francisco.

Based on the volume of searches, you can also decide to further segment your campaigns to get even more focused. The more tailored your campaigns are—including keywords, ads and landing pages—the better your leads will be. For example, you could create a new campaign that combines two of the segments we just discussed titled “San Francisco WordPress Website Design”. Some of the keywords in this campaign could be:

Wordpress_keywords.png

Another way to get more focused with the keywords you’re targeting is to find long-tail keywords—those that consist of four or more words. Searchers who type in these longer search terms have typically done their research and honed in on exactly what they are looking for, making them quality prospects.

A good tool to find long-tail keywords is Übersuggest, but you can also source them directly from Google. After conducting a search, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and look in the section “Searches related to…”. A search for “Ecommerce Design Services”, for example, shows the following suggestions:

Google_suggest.png 

5) Filter Out Irrelevant Keywords

Targeting the kinds of keywords we discussed in the previous section, will go a long way in attracting high quality leads to your ads, but there are also steps you can take to proactively ward off less desirable clicks.

Look over your Search Terms Report to determine whether you are getting any irrelevant clicks to your ads. If you find any such clicks (or impressions), add those keywords to your negative keywords list—this tells Google or Bing not to show your ads for any of these keywords.

Going back to our earlier example of web design services, some negative keywords you would likely want to add are: cheap, free, themes, school, jobs etc. This will make sure you don’t waste your money on clicks from users searching for keywords like “San Francisco Web Design Jobs” or “WordPress Website Design Theme”.

If you followed our guidelines for tracking and opportunity attribution described in sections 1 and 2, you will now have the ability to determine which keywords are leading to poor quality leads and which keywords are producing opportunities.

If you find that certain keywords are predominantly producing poor leads, you can add them to your negative keywords list to stop receiving traffic from these types of searches.

On the other hand, you will now have a list of keywords that have produced opportunities (and customers) for your business.

Keyword_opportunities_highlighted.png

You can double down on these keywords in three ways:

  • Increase their bids so your ads rank at the top of search results.
  • Segment these keywords into a new group or campaign so you can have more customized ads and landing pages for them.
  • Find other related keywords you may have missed the first time.

6) Use Ad Copy to Pre-Qualify Visitors

Writing ad copy that focuses solely on increasing click-through rates is a mistake. You should write ads that pre-qualify visitors, so that the traffic you do get will be a lot more relevant and targeted to your business. Some of the best ways of doing this, are by adding the following elements to your ad copy.

Business size

If you target businesses of a certain size, reflect that in your ad copy. For example, if you want to target larger businesses, you can add “Enterprise” to your ads and create copy such as “Enterprise Class WordPress Design”.

Industry

If you work with specific verticals, you can make that clear in your ads. For example, your ad could read: “WordPress Design for Healthcare”. This usually works best with segmented campaigns and keywords (see sections 3 and 4).

Pricing

Many companies are uncomfortable adding pricing to their ad copy, but this is a good way to weed out prospects who may not have the budget for your solution. You can do this by adding text such as “Starting at $499/month” or “Packages Starting at $10K”.

Target persona

Including your target persona in your ad copy is another excellent way of pre-qualifying your ad traffic and even personalizing your ads. You can do this with text such as “For Small Business Owners” or “For Discriminating Marketing Execs”.

It is also important to consistently A/B test your ads to optimize their performance. As a general guideline, you should always have two ads running for each ad group in your campaigns. You can then decide which ad is performing better by looking at the number of conversions and opportunities generated from each, in addition to the click-through rates.

7) Develop Tailored Landing Pages

Once a visitor gets to one of your landing pages you have already paid for the click. This means that measures such as adding extra form fields or validating for a business email address in an effort to reduce the no. of poor quality leads, are misguided. Instead, you should focus on maximizing the conversion rates of your landing pages by optimizing the elements below.

Customize landing pages to your ad groups

Tailor your landing pages to the needs, wants, and challenges of your ad groups, with particular focus on the content you have above the fold. While it is ideal to create unique landing pages for each ad group, sometimes this is not feasible—especially if you are working with dozens of different ad groups. Should this be the case, you can use dynamic headlines and subheadings on your pages. This will let you alter the content of your landing pages by passing in headlines and sub headings as parameters of your landing page URL.

Determine which offers drive the most results

Test multiple offers to see which get you the most traction. Make sure you look beyond conversions to see which offers are producing the most opportunities. Some offers to test include: Free Trial, Schedule Demo, Free Evaluation, Request Consultation, Request Proposal, Free Assessment, etc.

Test, test, test!

A/B test your landing pages to determine which variants are driving the most conversions, opportunities, customers and ROI:

AB_testing.png

Always A/B test a single element at a time to isolate the effect of that element on performance. Also, test only two variants of the page at a time. The most important elements you should run tests on are above the fold, and include: 

  • Headline: Test different versions of your main selling point, benefit or offer.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): Try out different CTA copy, colors, sizes and placements.
  • Hero Shot or Background: Test different images or videos for your hero shot or background
  • Form: Test different lengths and placements for your lead generation form. You might display your form in the hero area, at the­­ bottom of your page or as a popup.

8) Make Adjustments Based on Mobile Performance

If you implemented device tracking as described in sections 1 and 2, you will now be able to determine which devices (computer, tablet or smartphone) are driving opportunities. If you find that mobile leads are not converting into opportunities, you can stop running your campaigns on mobile devices or reduce bids so that computers and tablets receive the bulk of your traffic.

9) Create an Ad Schedule

Even if you are running your ads 24/7, you should set up an ad schedule for your campaigns. You can add days of the week or break your schedule down further by adding hourly segments for each day of the week. Once this is done, you will be able to track performance for each day or hourly segment that you define:

ad_schedule.png

Once you combine your opportunity data and your ad schedule, you will be able to determine which days or hours produce the most opportunities. From there, you can adjust your bids for each segment or stop running your campaign for those segments.

You should typically look at this data over a longer period of time—at least one quarter. If you find that you are not generating any opportunities on weeknights or weekends, and can stop running most of your campaigns during those times and move your budget over to regular business hours.

Conclusion

PPC campaigns are an effective way to attract B2B leads. However, many companies struggle at generating opportunities and driving a positive ROI from their campaigns. These nine strategies will help you create targeted campaigns optimized for high quality lead conversions, and boost your bottom line.

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Jun

8

2016

9 Strategies for Improving Lead Quality From B2B PPC Campaigns

Laptop-with-adwords-screenshot.jpg

You’ve poured thousands of dollars into your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search campaigns and have managed to generate a substantial number of leads. You’re rocking your conversion rates and your cost per lead is great.

So what’s the problem?

It’s only when you start analyzing your results and dig a little deeper that you realize an overwhelming majority of these leads are in essence “junk leads”. Very few are turning into opportunities, let alone customers. The bottom line is, you’re just not seeing a healthy ROI.

In this post, we provide nine proven strategies that you can use to generate better quality, bottom of the funnel leads from your B2B PPC campaigns. Let’s dive in.

1) Set Up Proper Tracking

In order to accurately measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, you need to make sure that you are able to track other important elements besides conversions. This data will allow you to determine which campaign and site a lead came from, the keyword they searched for, the device they were on, and so on.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use UTM Parameters and ValueTrack Parameters. These tags are data that you append to the end of your landing page URLs, and you’ve probably seen them when you clicked a link or ad. They look something like this

 http://www.yourlandingpage.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc

As a best practice, you should use the naming convention specified below and use at least these 6 parameters in your URLs:

utm_table.png

In Google AdWords, the most efficient way to set up tracking parameters is in the “Campaign URL options (advanced)” section under campaign settings. Here, you can enter your parameters after “{lpurl}?” as shown below. The {lpurl} portion will be automatically replaced with the landing page URL that you have set up for each ad within your campaign.

utm_tracking.png 

2) Implement Opportunity Attribution

Once you have your tracking parameters, you need to capture them on your landing pages and store them—along with with other lead details—into the contacts database of your marketing platform. This is usually done by creating hidden fields in your landing page form. You will need one field for each UTM parameter that you have passed to your landing page:

hubspot_form.png

You may first need to create custom fields or properties in your contacts database before you map them to the new hidden fields in your form.

Next, you need to make sure that your contacts or leads data is synced with your CRM and that you are able to view all opportunity data for your leads.

At a minimum, you should be able to view lead status or stage—whether they are a sales qualified lead, marketing qualified lead, opportunity, customer etc.—and the opportunity size or deal amount. If you have lead scoring data associated with each contact, this will be extremely beneficial as well.

Once you have all of the available data, you should create reports to isolate and segment your data. The most important data you want to extract are the number of opportunities, opportunity amount and customers won for each source, campaign, keyword and device, and the name, email, company, lead status/stage, lead score, opportunity amount, source, campaign, keyword and device for each lead.

You will now be able to determine which opportunities are being generated from a particular platform (Google, Bing etc.), campaign, device and keyword. When you combine this with the spend data from your ad platform, you will be able to get your true ROI. 

Opportunities-and-Customers-Screenshot.png 

Next, isolate poor quality leads. If you use lead scoring, look at the leads with the lowest scores. Otherwise look for leads that have provided invalid or junk data in the name, email and company fields. Then check to see what campaigns, devices or keywords these leads have in common.

 

3) Segment Your Campaigns

Many companies make the mistake of setting up campaigns or ad groups for each product or service they have. They don’t dig deeper into the many different ways in which their target audience is searching for the solutions they offer.

You can address this by carefully planning your campaigns in order to segment your offer into as many groups as possible. You can segment by each main feature, benefit, sub category, target industry or geographic location relevant to your product or service.

For example, let’s say you provide web design and development services. You can segment your campaigns as follows:

  • Sub category: Ecommerce Website Design, Custom Website Design, Responsive Web Design, etc.
  • Feature: WordPress Web Design, Magento Development, PHP Development, etc.
  • Benefit: High End Web Design, Agile Web Development, Enterprise Web Development, etc.
  • Target industry: Real Estate Website Design, Restaurant Web Design, Healthcare Website Design, etc.
  • Geographic location: San Francisco Web Design, California Web Design, New York Web Design, etc.

Once you identify the segments you want to go after, you can set up each campaign with the necessary assets: 

  • Keywords: All keywords related to the associated segment
  • Ads: Ad copy customized to that segment
  • Landing Pages: Customized landing page that has content only about that segment

Setting up campaigns in this way allows you to focus your efforts, and will result in better quality leads and increased conversion rates.

4) Target Relevant Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of every paid search campaign, and you need to go wide and deep to identify the best ones for your business. 

The first step is identifying the most focused and relevant keywords. Segment your campaigns as described in the previous section and then search for keyword ideas within each segment. There are a lot of excellent keyword research tools that you can use to find the best keywords.

To attract the best quality leads at the bottom of the funnel, you have to target keywords with searcher intent in mind. For example, when someone searches for “WordPress Website Design Services” you know that they are looking for a company that provides WordPress services.

However, when someone just types in “WordPress Website Design”, you can’t be certain about their intent. They could be looking for services or they could just be looking for a how-to design guide. Location-based searches also convey searcher intent adequately. For example, “San Francisco Web Design” indicates that the searcher is looking for a web design company in San Francisco.

Based on the volume of searches, you can also decide to further segment your campaigns to get even more focused. The more tailored your campaigns are—including keywords, ads and landing pages—the better your leads will be. For example, you could create a new campaign that combines two of the segments we just discussed titled “San Francisco WordPress Website Design”. Some of the keywords in this campaign could be:

Wordpress_keywords.png

Another way to get more focused with the keywords you’re targeting is to find long-tail keywords—those that consist of four or more words. Searchers who type in these longer search terms have typically done their research and honed in on exactly what they are looking for, making them quality prospects.

A good tool to find long-tail keywords is Übersuggest, but you can also source them directly from Google. After conducting a search, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and look in the section “Searches related to…”. A search for “Ecommerce Design Services”, for example, shows the following suggestions:

Google_suggest.png 

5) Filter Out Irrelevant Keywords

Targeting the kinds of keywords we discussed in the previous section, will go a long way in attracting high quality leads to your ads, but there are also steps you can take to proactively ward off less desirable clicks.

Look over your Search Terms Report to determine whether you are getting any irrelevant clicks to your ads. If you find any such clicks (or impressions), add those keywords to your negative keywords list—this tells Google or Bing not to show your ads for any of these keywords.

Going back to our earlier example of web design services, some negative keywords you would likely want to add are: cheap, free, themes, school, jobs etc. This will make sure you don’t waste your money on clicks from users searching for keywords like “San Francisco Web Design Jobs” or “WordPress Website Design Theme”.

If you followed our guidelines for tracking and opportunity attribution described in sections 1 and 2, you will now have the ability to determine which keywords are leading to poor quality leads and which keywords are producing opportunities.

If you find that certain keywords are predominantly producing poor leads, you can add them to your negative keywords list to stop receiving traffic from these types of searches.

On the other hand, you will now have a list of keywords that have produced opportunities (and customers) for your business.

Keyword_opportunities_highlighted.png

You can double down on these keywords in three ways:

  • Increase their bids so your ads rank at the top of search results.
  • Segment these keywords into a new group or campaign so you can have more customized ads and landing pages for them.
  • Find other related keywords you may have missed the first time.

6) Use Ad Copy to Pre-Qualify Visitors

Writing ad copy that focuses solely on increasing click-through rates is a mistake. You should write ads that pre-qualify visitors, so that the traffic you do get will be a lot more relevant and targeted to your business. Some of the best ways of doing this, are by adding the following elements to your ad copy.

Business size

If you target businesses of a certain size, reflect that in your ad copy. For example, if you want to target larger businesses, you can add “Enterprise” to your ads and create copy such as “Enterprise Class WordPress Design”.

Industry

If you work with specific verticals, you can make that clear in your ads. For example, your ad could read: “WordPress Design for Healthcare”. This usually works best with segmented campaigns and keywords (see sections 3 and 4).

Pricing

Many companies are uncomfortable adding pricing to their ad copy, but this is a good way to weed out prospects who may not have the budget for your solution. You can do this by adding text such as “Starting at $499/month” or “Packages Starting at $10K”.

Target persona

Including your target persona in your ad copy is another excellent way of pre-qualifying your ad traffic and even personalizing your ads. You can do this with text such as “For Small Business Owners” or “For Discriminating Marketing Execs”.

It is also important to consistently A/B test your ads to optimize their performance. As a general guideline, you should always have two ads running for each ad group in your campaigns. You can then decide which ad is performing better by looking at the number of conversions and opportunities generated from each, in addition to the click-through rates.

7) Develop Tailored Landing Pages

Once a visitor gets to one of your landing pages you have already paid for the click. This means that measures such as adding extra form fields or validating for a business email address in an effort to reduce the no. of poor quality leads, are misguided. Instead, you should focus on maximizing the conversion rates of your landing pages by optimizing the elements below.

Customize landing pages to your ad groups

Tailor your landing pages to the needs, wants, and challenges of your ad groups, with particular focus on the content you have above the fold. While it is ideal to create unique landing pages for each ad group, sometimes this is not feasible—especially if you are working with dozens of different ad groups. Should this be the case, you can use dynamic headlines and subheadings on your pages. This will let you alter the content of your landing pages by passing in headlines and sub headings as parameters of your landing page URL.

Determine which offers drive the most results

Test multiple offers to see which get you the most traction. Make sure you look beyond conversions to see which offers are producing the most opportunities. Some offers to test include: Free Trial, Schedule Demo, Free Evaluation, Request Consultation, Request Proposal, Free Assessment, etc.

Test, test, test!

A/B test your landing pages to determine which variants are driving the most conversions, opportunities, customers and ROI:

AB_testing.png

Always A/B test a single element at a time to isolate the effect of that element on performance. Also, test only two variants of the page at a time. The most important elements you should run tests on are above the fold, and include: 

  • Headline: Test different versions of your main selling point, benefit or offer.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): Try out different CTA copy, colors, sizes and placements.
  • Hero Shot or Background: Test different images or videos for your hero shot or background
  • Form: Test different lengths and placements for your lead generation form. You might display your form in the hero area, at the­­ bottom of your page or as a popup.

8) Make Adjustments Based on Mobile Performance

If you implemented device tracking as described in sections 1 and 2, you will now be able to determine which devices (computer, tablet or smartphone) are driving opportunities. If you find that mobile leads are not converting into opportunities, you can stop running your campaigns on mobile devices or reduce bids so that computers and tablets receive the bulk of your traffic.

9) Create an Ad Schedule

Even if you are running your ads 24/7, you should set up an ad schedule for your campaigns. You can add days of the week or break your schedule down further by adding hourly segments for each day of the week. Once this is done, you will be able to track performance for each day or hourly segment that you define:

ad_schedule.png

Once you combine your opportunity data and your ad schedule, you will be able to determine which days or hours produce the most opportunities. From there, you can adjust your bids for each segment or stop running your campaign for those segments.

You should typically look at this data over a longer period of time—at least one quarter. If you find that you are not generating any opportunities on weeknights or weekends, and can stop running most of your campaigns during those times and move your budget over to regular business hours.

Conclusion

PPC campaigns are an effective way to attract B2B leads. However, many companies struggle at generating opportunities and driving a positive ROI from their campaigns. These nine strategies will help you create targeted campaigns optimized for high quality lead conversions, and boost your bottom line.

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