Tag Archives: AdWords

Better Manage Your Metrics

24 Aug

White desk with notes, coffee and laptop


Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 9.57.08 AM


Guest Contributor: Wade Callow, Digital Marketing Specialist

Fair warning, I find my job very interesting, so this article can be a bit technical.


Understanding Cost-Per-Click in Your B2B Paid Search Campaign

There are a variety of important metrics to consider when optimizing your B2B paid search campaign, each with its own meaning and optimization techniques. One paid search metric that is often highlighted – no matter if you’re using Google or Bing, your B2C or B2B, or if you are client side or agency – is the Cost-Per-Click metric, or CPC. Perhaps because it directly correlates to the dollar amount spent on each keyword, CPC is often seen as one of the most important factors in a paid search campaign, and as a result, CPC improvement is often pursued by paid-search managers.

To truly understand how to improve CPC, a paid search manager must first understand how CPC is calculated. For the sake of this article, let’s first describe major factors that go into Cost-Per-Click and then we’ll provide a few tips on how to improve it.

The Elements of CPC in your B2B Campaign

Maximum Bid

Bid is the first and easiest factor to understand. It’s as simple as inputting a single number to an ad group or a keyword, and AdWords won’t rise above it. So, if you set a max bid at $2, you won’t get an average CPC of $11. Setting a maximum bid is easy, but determining a max bid that meets your goals can be a bit of a challenge, especially in the beginning when you don’t have the data to justify your decisions. You want to have significant clicks without overspending; you want a balanced max CPC that’s going to give you ROI without breaking the bank. For more on determining your max CPC read here.


Competition is another huge determining factor on CPC, and because AdWords is an auction based service, competition can vary from keyword to keyword and market to market. Simply put, the more advertisers bidding on a single keyword, the more competitive it will be. The more competitive a term, the more expensive it will be, driving up your CPC.

Higher-volume keywords will be much more competitive, and thus, more expensive. Most high-volume keywords also convert at a higher rate, justifying the cost. If a high-priced keyword is converting and providing significant ROI, it’s probably worth the price.

Quality Score

The final factor for determining CPC is the Quality Score. Quality Score allows for the most manipulation in your AdWords account. Google rewards high Quality Scores with lower CPCs, so improving QS is imperative, especially if you don’t have the daily budget to force your way to the top of the page.

What Determines Quality Score:

  • How relevant your keywords are to your ad group
  • How relevant your ads are to your keywords
  • How relevant your landing pages are to your keywords and ads
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
  • Historical AdWords performance

Tips for Improving Your B2B Campaign

Keywords: Keyword research is the foundation of paid search and finding the right keywords is how a successful campaign begins. When looking for keywords, you need to find ones that are relevant to your goals. If you’re selling garage door services, the “DIY how to install a garage door” term isn’t going to get you anywhere because that is the users intent is not to get their garage door serviced, but to service their garage door themselves. Finding keywords that match your audience, have a relevant amount of search traffic and a justifiable competition level are where you should start. Don’t neglect high competition keywords or low volume keywords if you think they fit, you can always remove them later down the road if they aren’t performing the way you’d like.

Structure: Once your keyword research is completed and you have an extensive seed list, organize those keyword into similar groups. Try to match a common term or common theme. If you have keywords that don’t fit any group, make them their own group and watch your search terms report closely to add more as they appear.

Ad Copy: Once you’ve placed your keywords into ad groups, ad copy should reflect your keywords, either by dynamically inserting keywords into the headline or by reflecting the theme of your keyword. Just make sure that your keywords are reflected in some way on the ad. Since Click-Through-Rate is important to Quality Score, placing the keyword in the headline has proven to be the most effective for good click-through rates.

Landing Pages: Similar to ad copy, your landing page should reflect your keywords. If your landing page isn’t focused to your ad group your quality scores will suffer. Landing page speed is also a factor, so even you have a great page, if it isn’t loading quick enough for Google – or even worse, your customer – it will cost you.

Ad Rotation: Make sure you have several variations of ads running on a constant rotation. If one isn’t performing the way you’d like, pause it and replace it with another. Do this until you find ads that have high CTR and convert well.

Negative Match: Too often, an underutilized aspect in AdWords, negative matching allows you to point out certain keywords to Google that you don’t want your ad to show up for. This is especially important when using broad match and broad modified keywords as Google will show an ad to anything it associates with your keywords. Removing irrelevant terms through negative matching eliminates wasted spend and improves CTR.

Low Competition/Long Tail Keywords: Finding low competition keywords through keyword research and the search terms report is another way to help your CPC. Low competition keywords, while generally lower in volume, are almost always lower in cost. Finding low competition keywords that are relevant to your campaign and still produce a decent amount of traffic is a great way to balance out your overall CPC. Long Tail keywords (keywords longer than 2 – 3 words) are great low competition keywords as the people searching them generally know exactly what they are looking for, leading to higher CTRs.

Summing Up

Cost-Per-Click is easy to manage in any paid search campaign but optimizing it is often much more complicated than it seems, especially within the nuances of the B2B market. A manager must first understand everything that goes into the metric before they can improve it and even then it can be difficult to get it where you’d like. While they are all similar, B2C, B2B and E-Commerce all have their own auctions and search landscapes, so understanding your market is just as important as understanding your metric.

It’s also important to know that, while CPC may be important, it’s not the only metric and shouldn’t be treated as such. Once CPC has decreased, another metric may dive into the red and you’ve to fix it. It’s a teeter-totter effect that can be remedied by paying attention to all of the metrics and how they correlate. Every AdWords manager should be working towards improving everything for every metric, not just one. Always work to better your keywords, your ads and your landing pages. Always be testing for something better. Paid search campaigns are never over. There’s always room for improvement.

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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: What are they and why do they matter?

10 Aug

Google Advertising Program webpage on the browser


Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

This year has been a big one with Google updates and news across all platforms and products. Google AdWords has not been immune to large scale changes that have an impact on how advertisers manage accounts and campaigns. Earlier in the year Google removed all ads from the right side of the Google search results page. This update means that text ads are now only showing at the top and bottom of the page and while there was a lot of debate about what this would do to advertiser costs to remain in front of the targeted audience, it was accepted as an evolution toward a mobile-first mentality for Google and advertisers alike.

 Compare the Two…

First Image
Google’s New Expanded Text Ads
Second image
Google’s Legacy Ads

What are expanded text ads?

A natural evolution toward the mobile-first mentality was launched in late July and is rolling out to all accounts in the form of “expanded text ads.” This update by Google is available for advertisers to use when creating new ads featuring a new format and level of flexibility in ad creation and has a handy preview as you’re composing your ad for seeing how it might render on mobile and desktop. This update removes the need to check the mobile device box on text ads and for more detailed break-outs of campaigns by focus on mobile versus desktop.

Why should I care?

I have boiled this down to the pros and cons for the new format. Regardless of how you feel about the format, it is something that must happen and we recommend getting on board as soon as possible so you can get any possible advantage during the transition period in having more real estate on your search engine results page.


  • The ad creation process will be easier going forward
  • You gain more flexibility with how the ad text lines are formatted (one line and continuous statement versus two) and it is expanded to 80 characters
  • You can have multiple headlines (30 characters each)
  • The display URL allows for multiple directory layers (backslashes) providing the opportunity to work more keywords into the display URL
  • All ad extensions are still in play allowing for even more real estate for your ads


  • If you have a lot of ads in your account, or if you manage multiple accounts, you’re going to have to invest time in creating new expanded text ads. There is not a way to have your ads automatically convert in format and you will have to go through them in detail.
  • You won’t be able to update legacy text ads after the October 26, 2016 deadline. While your ads will continue to run, they will be frozen in time.

The Data

ERM started building expanded text ads when our accounts became eligible and started A/B testing against the legacy format. We’re monitoring the tests and will follow up with another blog post in the next 1-2 weeks with the results of our testing and more information about how expanded text ads are performing across the board. Stay tuned!

More info from Google on expanded text ads and the transition: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7056544

Help on setting them up on your own: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167115?hl=en

To read more, check out this article: http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-quirks-testing-results-255093

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SMX West Recap

22 Mar

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.33.19 AM

Lessons Learned from One of the Best SEM Conferences in the Industry

CoreyMorris3Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

SMX West (Search Marketing Expo) is one of the premier events in the search marketing industry and is hosted yearly in a significant location for the search community—in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’ve been involved with SMX for many years. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak on technical SEO at this event. This year, I was able to catch up with colleagues, absorb as much new information as possible, and even make my first visit to Google HQ in Mountain View.

Coming into the event I anticipated several things, such as:

  • The reintroduction of the Google Dance (more on this below)
  • Industry reaction to the removal of right rail ads on Google
  • Insights and outlook on Google local search (since SMX West focused last year on details regarding the major shake-ups in the local search landscape, with local becoming much more like traditional organic search)
  • Specific details on how to harness added features and functionality in AdWords, including remarketing, customer audiences, and more
  • Seeing how the industry has grown and changed in the past year, as my focus has shifted to an integrated digital marketing model

SMX Google

Starting with the opening evening networking reception hosted by Bruce Clay, Inc., I realized that the buzz was definitely there. I’ve been to many shows in the industry (including West) several times, but this one had a different buzz about it. It seemed bigger and everyone seemed more engaged. Networking was at a different level this year, and while maybe it was just a perception due to the opportunity I had to meet a lot of great new people, I’d like to think that the industry has become more open and focused than ever before.

Key Insights from SMX West 2016

In terms of specific takeaways, I have more insights and perspectives in my notes than I can likely share, but here are some highlights:

  • Consider use of customer match remarketing in AdWords. This was rolled out last year, but most of us took a wait and see approach with this (as we do with many new Google features). Two specific case studies showed an average of 50% conversion rate with this tactic. It has been on my “To Test” list for a while, but has since moved up to a tactic to absolutely work into the remarketing mix and lead nurturing process for my clients. In basic terms, it allows you to upload your email list into AdWords and remarket to users that Google can match to their email address or Google account address.
  • A conversation that I had over a meal (that I can share) included a strong reminder to never forget that while search marketing is more widely accepted than ever before, that there are still skeptics out there (in US, Canada, and Australia…we have similar stories) based on the actions of a small minority and/or those that used shady tactics years ago. Search marketing isn’t in the silo that it used to be. Three of the six of us in our group did not come from search marketing backgrounds and are either new to the space or are working in companies providing the service as a value-add or new component (ex: printing company, PR agency)
  • Another takeaway is a great reminder to not lose sight of the basics in account structure and hierarchy in PPC. Advanced tactics and strategies are great, but you need to cut wasted spend and poor performers before scaling out into other areas.
  • The best slide that I saw in a presentation served as a simple, yet great reminder for PPC accounts:


  • We received several very interesting insights from Google engineer, Paul Haahr, on the final day. I have a new vocab word in “shards.” The best insight from that session is that it’s rare to look at Google search results and not see an experiment. The oft-quoted stat that Google changes their algorithm over 500 times a year and the fun name associated with the Google Dance are strong reminders that nothing is done in a vacuum. We’re way beyond the days where results were somewhat static and we could see absolute ranking positions. Always be mindful that Google is changing—just like our competition is changing—and we’re (hopefully) also changing as we optimize our sites.

Google Dance

Google Dance

You may have started your reading here by scrolling down to see images of what a Google Dance looks like. Let me start with the
history lesson and detail that hopefully wasn’t missed by those that attended who are under 30. The Google Dance was agoogle-dance historical reference to the early days when Google would roll out updates to the algorithm at off-peak hours that would impact rankings and would often roll back the update (or continue a cycle of pushing out and pulling back updates). This garnered the nickname of the Google Dance from the SEO community.

Fast forward—Google started to hold an event for the SEO community (that Google refers to only as “Webmasters”) at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a great outreach event and stopped happening before 2010.

Maile OhyeThis was the first year that it was brought back for a VIP audience of 500 attendees at West. The whole experience felt special—food, drinks, trivia, a DJ, and even a cupcake bar. But the highlight for many was the brief return of Matt Cutts. Since he stepped away from the role of being the face of Google to many in the SEO community, it is now considered a treat when he makes an appearance. The night at Google rounded out with a great conversation that I had with Maile Ohye, a lead engineer at Google and a popular speaker at industry events—be sure to attend one of her sessions if you can, as they are very insightful.

Many items on my industry bucket list were checked off at SMX 2016 and I can’t emphasize enough the high quality of people I engaged with and both the validation of my strategies and supplement of new tactics that this event offered.


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Using Social Media Ads in Building Products Marketing

21 Aug

How targeted are your current marketing strategies?

Why social media ads might be something to add to your mix

Marketing budgets have been slashed over the last few years and for many of us, the days of spending money on advertising went with those budgets. So how can we reach potential customers without breaking the bank? I’ve found that social advertising is a good option, at least worth a test as part of your overall marketing strategy to determine if it provides the leads you need.

With social advertising, like Google AdWords, you set a bid amount and a budget and the network uses an algorithm to determine when your ads are shown. You also have the freedom to select the type of people you want to reach and customize your message to reach them. Both LinkedIn and Facebook provide a range of options for building product marketers looking to reach prospects.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads give you access to 175 million people worldwide, including 40 million U.S.-based professionals. You can target a specific audience and with a controlled spend to ensure the investment is worth the return.

Target Audience Parameters

  • Location
  • Company>Industry: Including construction jobs, architecture and planning, building materials and more
  • Job Title: Including Operations and Purchasing
  • School
  • Skills
  • Groups: Including NAHB, NARI, AIA, Builder and others
  • Gender
  • Age

Another great thing about LinkedIn ads is that you can create up to 15 variable ads per campaign to test the response.

Facebook Ads

Although Facebook has over 900 million users, Facebook ads are great for targeting smaller, more specific groups of users with select campaigns. Much like LinkedIn, you can target a specific audience utilizing criteria that works for you.

Audience Options

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Precise Interests: Including building, remodeling, design
  • Broad categories/interests
  • Connection and friends of connections (determines who all can see the ad – great for targeting like-minded people)

Facebook gives you the option to pay per click or pay per impression which gives you flexibility to choose what works best for your campaign.

Ads such as these have been a hotly-debated subject in the marketing world, especially after GM’s very public decision to pull their $10 million Facebook ad budget due to a lack of results. On the other hand, video game giant EA announced a major shift in dollars towards Facebook on August 20. While you may be skeptical, remember that social network ads are targeted, precise, allow for specific lead tracking and can be set so you pay only when the ads actually work (someone clicks). You’re taking very little risk in trying out a variety of tactics on these networks to test engagement from your targets.

Saying your building product target customers don’t engage in these networks is too easy; people everywhere are engaging, so take a small risk and consider testing these tactics as part of your long-term prospecting strategy. Combine them with the plans you should already have in place for utilizing your company’s Facebook page and other digital initiatives to achieve the maximum ROI from these networks. For more information visit www.facebook.com/ads or www.linkedin.com/ads.

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