If you’re like most busy marketers, there’s a lot about your paid search campaign that has been ignored for longer than you’d like to admit. Now is a great time to review your campaign and get it refreshed and ready for 2012. Here are 5 things you can do now to get your campaign off to a good start next year.
1. Review performance data
If you haven’t reviewed your campaign performance in a while, that’s the best place to start with your campaign refresh project. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help you see if your campaign is trending in the right direction or not, and if not, what you should work on first to fix it. Start by looking at your Click Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, Cost Per Action (CPA) and average Cost Per Click (CPC) to spot problem areas in your campaign. These key metrics will help you identify problems with bid prices, ad copy and landing pages. We’ll talk more about each of those below.
2. Update Bid Prices
Based on what you find in your performance data analysis, you may need to either raise or lower your bid prices based on the competition for your keywords. First, if you’re maxing out your daily budget, start by looking at the First Page Bid Estimate (FPBE) for your keywords to see if there are opportunities to lower your bid prices and overall CPC.
Ad position is another good indicator of how you should change your bid prices. If you’re in the top one or two ad positions, you’ll benefit from lowering your CPC. You may find that sacrificing an ad position or two will have little to no impact in your CTR, but could dramatically lower your CPC and CPA, saving you significant ad spend in the long run.
On the other hand, if you’ve seen your ad position and CTR slipping, new competition for keywords is probably driving up bid prices. To keep up, you should selectively raise your prices so you don’t fall behind your competition. Of course, improving your Quality Score is another way you can improve your ad position without increasing bid prices.
3. Refresh your ad copy
If you haven’t worked on your PPC campaign in a while, your ad copy is probably due for a refresh as well. Check your ad copy to see if the messaging has lost relevance relative to your overall marketing messaging. What seemed like great ad copy nine months ago when you wrote it may be irrelevant or off message today. And if you wrote seasonally focused ads inspired by the heat of the summer, replace them with winter/holiday focused ads, or pause them until next spring.
Also, check that your ads are deep linked to specific landing pages, rather than (gasp!) your home page or general product category pages. And be sure your ad copy is highly relevant to the page you’re taking searchers to. Requiring visitors to continue searching for the product they’re interested in once they get to your site is one of the best ways to lose the sale. Visitors want to find what they’re looking for quickly. If they don’t, they’ll go find it on your competitor’s site.
4. Audit your landing pages
Like ads, your landing page messages may have become less relevant or outdated over time. Check your landing page against your core marketing messages and update them to deliver a consistent and compelling message. And if you haven’t tested different calls to action in a while, this is a good time to try some new variations to see if you can improve conversion rates. A subtle change to your call to action can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate.
And if you’re struggling to deploy and test new landing pages, using a landing pages builder from companies like Unbounce can make things a lot easier.
5. Audit and expand your keyword list
A keyword audit is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your CPA and stop wasting valuable marketing dollars. If you have keywords that are generating lots of clicks, but never convert, get rid of them! That’s the easy first step. Once you’ve done that, look for opportunities to refine your keyword list by replacing broad match terms with exact and phrase match. Also, use AdWords’ Search Terms to find keywords that are inadvertently driving irrelevant clicks and create negative keywords for those terms so you ads don’t appear when a searcher enters that irrelevant keyword.
Bonus Tip! Pause your holiday promotion ads
This one has caused more than one search marketer some embarrassment and wasted click spend. If you’re running holiday promotion ad groups, set a calendar reminder for yourself to pause these keywords after Christmas or the new year to avoid running ads that look soo 2011.
Now, grab some eggnog, cozy up to the fire, and get that PPC campaign ready for 2012!
Photo courtesy of Flickr user ChicagoSage