What is your provider counting as a lead?

At Strathcom Media, we know how important it is to track how many customers are submitting forms through your website or calling your dealership directly. So, unlike other providers that report website visits or clicks as leads, we report actual leads.

Tracking actual leads means collecting the important information your dealership needs to increase sales and determine the effectiveness of your campaigns. That’s why we always include Lead/Conversion Tracking in our clients’ Pay-Per-Click accounts.

 

google

Lead/Conversion Tracking provides you with the data you need to make educated decisions about your dealership.

 
Continue reading “What is your provider counting as a lead?”

Impression Share – Is It Really That Important?

What gets measured, gets managed. It’s perhaps even truer today than in the time of management guru, Peter Drucker.

But there are a lot of measurements. And there is a lot to manage, especially in the world of paid search, where software algorithms and data mining give you more numbers to manage than ever before.

If you thought, “Surely, all measurements can’t be equally important in determining the health of my business,” you’d be right. Some are more valuable than others; some are overrated, too. So how does Impression Share rank in the grand scheme of things? Continue reading “Impression Share – Is It Really That Important?”

2014 Paid Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced Recap

Amid the vivid lights and sprawling skyline of Seattle, the brightest minds in search marketing from across the globe gathered for the week of June 9. The home of the Seattle Mariners was host for a team of a different kind: SMX Advanced 2014.

I was there for Advanced Sessions for Paid Search Advertising, and now I’m back to report on what your dealership can take from the latest SMX conference.

Seattle Skyline

Advanced AdWords Workshop

Brad Geddes, Founder of Certified Knowledge and a prominent educator in the PPC industry, led this lecture. Advertisers from a variety of industries joined in discussions about advanced AdWords topics like display advertising, location targeting, quality score, landing page optimization, and the sales cycle.

The key topic was understanding what our customers are looking for and why. People search the web for answers, and it’s your opportunity to use paid ads to answer your customers’ questions. Use your text-based ad to capture a searcher’s attention, and then provide a solution through the landing page. Doing this correctly can lead to higher conversion rates and satisfied customers.

By thinking about the searcher’s needs, and giving them the best solution to their problem, they’ll be more likely to convert and to return in the future.

The lecture went into advanced topics like how to build successful AdWords Campaigns, organizing ideas and topics, and other methods to increase leads. While we won’t go into advanced topics in detail, feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can improve your paid search account.

Day 1: The Mad Scientist of Paid Search

Bryan Minor, the Chief (and possibly mad—in a good way) Scientist at Acquisio, introduced the first session of the week: Bid & Budget Management. This tool supercharges PPC accounts by fine-tuning budget with real-time accuracy and increasing qualified traffic.

Mad Search ScientistLars Hirsch and Jared Schroder (not to be confused with Schrödinger, although a scientist in his own right) showed us new methods for testing paid search marketing beyond keyword expansion and ad copy testing.

Their work involves testing regression models and analyzing trends to discover the primary secrets of paid search auctions, attributions, and search behaviours.

Strathcom was one of the first companies in Canada to use Acquisio’s Bid & Budget management tool. When Bryan Minor approached me with the idea, I knew that he was on to something. Our test was a huge success, and we now use it across all of our PPC accounts.

We took away some key points from the talk:

Try New Ad Testing Techniques.

Every Paid Search Specialist has different techniques when it comes to testing, but it doesn’t hurt try new ideas. We learned some effective and quick techniques to make testing new ads quick and effective.

Connect Paid and Social Advertising.

Social is here to stay. Whether we like it or not, Facebook and Twitter have moved from the realm of your teenage daughter’s iPhone to the domain of big business. Social advertising mediums represent a big opportunity for the car industry. With new features like Graph Search, Facebook has made it possible to learn more about potential customers with information like interests, location, “likes,” and more. This is a great channel to increase awareness and leads.

Day 2

Conversion Rate Rockstars. This was by far the best session of all. When it comes to improving your conversion rates, it’s all about testing and optimizing your web site. Your PPC account can have the best structure a killer keyword strategy an awesome click through rate but without a great site it will never generate leads.

Paid Search Tactics & Tools. This session was AdWords on steroids. The speakers showed how to leverage analytics and other AdWords tools that are not used to their full potential. There have been 1000+ changes in AdWords and Bing over the past year. Tactics used last year are history.

What’s New?

Yahoo rolled out “Yahoo Gemini,” a new platform that combines mobile search and native advertising into a single marketplace.

Yahoo Gemini

Recent studies found that people were 25% more likely to look at native ads than banner ads, and viewed them 53% more frequently. People were also more likely to share native ads with their contacts and demonstrated greater purchase intent after viewing them.

Yahoo Gemini Native vs Mobile Search

SMX advanced was all it promised to be. I got to meet and learn from great people like Brad Geddes, Larry Kim (Wordstream), Chris Goward, and so many others. I can’t wait for next year’s conference!

Choosing the Right PPC Agency for Your Car Dealership

In this day and age you will find hundreds of PPC agencies that guarantee overnight results and success to get you tied down to a contract.

Before hiring a new PPC agency, you need to check its background, expertise and reputation. PPC management is not an easy task. It’s not only about analyzing metrics or creating relevant ad copy; it’s also about developing an effective strategy to make your account shine.

Analytics Strategy

How do you know which agency is “the one”?

A great PPC Agency will always do the following:

  1. Take the time to explain how pay per click works. A good agency will make it a priority for you to understand and be part of the strategy.
  2. Prepare a proposal based on your goals. This should be unique and made according to your needs.
  3. Be clear on how they intend to market your dealership through PPC.
  4. Be 100% transparent. The agency should specify where the money is going to be spent.
  5. Communicate effectively with you in a timely manner.
  6. Assign a dedicated account manager to help you at all points of the process.
  7. Have a design and copywriting team to give your ads a unique touch.
  8. Be able to explain how they will measure success for your PPC Account.
  9. Be willing and able to provide references.

Evaluating Expertise

Ask who will manage and optimize your account. You want to make sure the agency has actual experts that live and breathe PPC. Ask about their level of expertise and if they are certified AdWords experts. You don’t want to end up with a junior account manager that will only waste your budget every month.

Make sure the agency you’re assessing is part of the Google Partners Program. Agencies have to complete certain requirements to get into Google’s trusted partner program:

  • Maintain excellent customer service
  • Adhere to Google’s best practices
  • Run a strong and successful AdWords business

This certifies that the agency is a trusted expert and Google approves of the work it’s providing or offering.

google partner

The Evaluation Process is all about asking the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask. The more information you get on how your account will be managed, the more comfortable you will feel with the agency you end up selecting.

Do your homework. Research PPC basics. (You can read about some common PPC terms here.) You won’t be able to become a PPC expert overnight, but understanding the basics well help you better asses the quality of service a PPC agency can provide. 

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1. Is your agency familiar with the auto industry?

There are hundreds of PPC agencies offering their services to any type of industry. Ideally you want an agency that is entirely focused on the automotive industry. This means the Account Manager and PPC specialist in charge of your account will be more in tune with your business.

2. Is the PPC specialist dedicated to paid search?

This should be a definite “yes.” The agency you choose must be able to provide an expert dedicated to Paid Search. PPC is complex, and needs a dedicated expert to give it their full attention. Be wary of agencies with a combined PPC/SEO expert, as a good agency will have a specialized expert for each individual service offered.

3. Do I get a full access to my account?

The agency should provide a login/password for you to check your account whenever you like.

4. Will I get a monthly report? Are these custom reports?

The answer to this question should also be yes. The agency has to provide a performance report that clearly shows the progress of your account. Ideally, reports should include recommendations specific to your dealership on how to improve the account’s performance.

5. Will you review and optimize my account regularly?

A great agency will create a plan to optimize your account regularly. A PPC account has to be closely monitored in order to constantly improve its performance.

6. Does your agency offer any type of training?

Find out if the agency you are evaluating has training that can help you understand how online advertising works and how your business will benefit from it.

7. What are the types of leads you track?

Forms submitted through Paid Ads should be the only thing tracked as leads. A lead is counted after the user has submitted all the information required in a form and has been directed to the “thank you” page. Some agencies will count visits to certain pages as leads. This is not a good practice, and is a red flag when selecting a PPC agency.

8. What other services do you offer?

It’s useful if your PPC agency offers other services such as website design and development or SEO if you are thinking of expanding your marketing strategy in the near future.

Remember, the PPC agency you pick will be managing your advertising budget. Selecting the right agency means you can rest assured that your money will be put to good use.

Contact Strathcom Media for a Free PPC Evaluation

Bidding on Branded Terms

One of the questions we get asked the most is why should I spend money on branded search terms if I’m already ranking #1 in organic search results?

When you bid on branded terms you will get:

  • Cheap traffic
  • Incremental growth
  • And higher click-through rate overall

When your paid and organic listings appear on the same search result page, users place more trust in your site and will be more inclined to click on your ad. They will see you as an established presence in your market and this boost in credibility will also make them more likely to convert.

Bidding on branded terms will help you dominate the search engine space.

Watch What Your Competitors Are Doing

Check where your organic ads are showing up. You might have dozens of competitors bidding on your branded terms (through Search) and dominating the “premium ad space” at the top of the page while pushing your organic listing further down. If you aren’t the first organic listing, then your ad will get a low percentage of clicks.

Watch out for sketchy dealerships pretending to be you. If your dealer’s name is not a registered trademark, others may be using it in their ad copy. This will confuse potential clients who might click on the competitor’s ad thinking it’s yours.

If you’re investing in TV, radio or newspaper ads, you don’t want competitors stealing your online traffic either. After a user has seen your TV ad, read the newspaper or heard your ad on the radio, chances are they will search online. Make sure they find you and not your competitors.

How much real estate would you rather own? Just the top result:

Go Auto 1

Or would you rather own the top result twice? Take as much space as possible!

Go Auto 2

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Branded Terms Are Cheap
Since these keywords are highly relevant to your site, they have great quality scores and cost-per-click can be low. A very modest investment can have you at the top of SERPs.

• Control Messaging
You can create compelling and highly-targeted ad copy that will grab users’ attention and entice them to visit your site whereas an organic listing might not send the user to the most relevant landing page.

• Build Brand Recognition & Trust
When your site appears in multiple places on a search result page, you will start to build brand recognition and gain your consumers’ trust.

• Drown out Competition
As you gain a presence in both organic and PPC search results, your competition will struggle to get any sizeable share of the pie. Competitors have to increase the bid on your branded terms if they want to get to top positions, as the quality score is low to them (since the terms are irrelevant to their sites).

• Higher click through Rates and Conversions
Users searching for your branded terms usually know your dealer already or are more “sales-ready” users. They are ready to take the next step: submit a lead. The graph below shows a 5.1% increase in CTR when you have both organic and paid Search, as opposed to just having an organic result:

Organic+Paid

NOTE:

Depending on where customers are in the buying cycle, they might use different search terms to find what they want.

  • Someone in the research stage might begin with generic search terms.
  • As the user becomes more familiar with available makes and models and moves toward the conversion stage, they might start searching for specific dealerships.
  • Returning users tend to use specific branded terms instead of generic.

Balance your use of generic and branded keywords to capture a wide range of users and increase conversion opportunities. The conversion stage is important, as the user has your dealership (or the competition’s) at “top-of-mind.”

How to Create a PPC Landing Page

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) landing pages for lead-generating websites should focus on one goal: getting the user to submit a form. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact formula to building the perfect PPC Landing page. PPC Landing Pages need to be tested and tweaked according to what your customers want.

formula

Outlining Your PPC Landing Page

Establish the Goals

What you are trying to accomplish? What do you expect the user to do when they get to the landing page (fill out a form, sign up, etc.)?

Look out for:

  • Competitors’ landing pages (what are they doing?)
  • New templates for ideas on how to design your landing pages (be innovative)

Target market

What type of user do you expect to visit your page? This will give you an idea of what information to include in your landing page.

Build custom landing pages for each ad group

If possible, have at least one landing page per campaign.

Don’t send traffic to the Home Page

Give users the path of least resistance to conversion!

Optimizing a landing page to increase leads:

  • Keep the page clean and easy-to-read. Don’t overload the user with unnecessary information. Keep it short and give them exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Make it easy for the users to convert. Include a simple form and an offer to entice the user to fill it out. The goal of a PPC page is to increase leads and build trust.
  • Clear calls-to-action and catchy text should entice users to convert.

A/B Testing

Use Google AdWords and/or Google experiments to collect data to refine your landing pages. The testing period should be at least a month (the more data, the better).

20 Quick & Dirty PPC Tips

1. Landing page headlines should match the ad that the user clicked to get there.

2. Make your call-to-action big and position it above the fold.

3. Use directional cues to focus attention on the call-to-action.

  • Examples include arrows or photos with subjects looking at the button.
  • Avoid being too flashy.
  • Where the call-to-action is below the fold, make the directional cue point to the bottom of the page.

4. A landing page should have a single purpose and thus a single, focused message.

5. Maintain congruence. Every element should be aligned conceptually with the topic and goal of the page.

6. Show the product or service being used in context.

7. Include your logo to keep the company top-of-mind for your users.

8. Edit to remove unnecessary content. Be brief.

9. Avoid visual clutter. Extravagant images and video distract from the main point of the landing page.

10. Minimize the page’s loading time. Avoid excessive images and clutter to keep loading times down.

11. Use relevant links. Not all users are ready to fill out a form. Give them additional options with links to relevant parts of your site.

12. Don’t fill the page with unnecessary links

13. Show social proof via indicators of your social status.

14. Test new ideas using A/B testing. Let your customers decide which message works best for them.

15. Provide an offer. This will entice users to fill out the form.

16. Include any type of recognitions or awards for your business: best in customer service, etc.

17. Use real testimonials for authenticity (if applicable and possible).

18. Simplify your copy using bullets. 

19. Form should be simple. We don’t need the users’ full profile. Ask for only the most important information and include basic information fields.

20. Keep it Simple and Clean! We need to grab a user’s attention in the first few seconds or they will bounce off the page. Remember, people have short attention spans.

PPC Design Example:

Motorland Enterprises GMC Savana - PPC LP

Google Analytics – Getting Started

Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic. More importantly, it can measure your website leads and it’s free!

By learning to read and interpret the metrics in Google Analytics you will be able to make informed decisions about targeting, performance, design, landing pages, keywords and many other aspects of online marketing. For this example we are looking at “All Traffic Sources.”

How to Read Google Analytics

Traffic Sources: when referring to a group of visits to your website, a source is the place that sent a user to your site. Examples of sources include Google search, Bing/Yahoo search, Paid Search, and Bookmarks. Sources can be classified as organic, referral, direct (none) and CPC (paid ads). These are called mediums.

When you first open up your Google Analytics account, you will see your Account Overview (click for larger image):

Let’s define the metrics we see:

  • Visits: a visit occurs when someone arrives at one of the pages on your website and includes the pages they explore during that session. These can be either new visitors or returning visitors.

A new visit occurs the first time the user visits your site.
A returning visitor has visited your site before.

Imagine someone visits your car dealership’s website. Let’s call him Bob. Bob likes mid-size sedans, and he’s doing some research before buying his next vehicle. While Google Analytics will never tell you Bob’s real name, it can tell you some metrics about how he interacts with your website:

  • Unique Vistors: Bob is a unique visitor to your website. Every time he drops in, it counts as one unique visit; if he visits your website twice, he will have generated two unique visits.
  • Pageviews: during his time on your site, Bob will probably visit a few pages. He might look at your online showroom, visit your car videos section, and end up browsing your used car inventory. In this case, he would have generated three pageviews.
  • Pages/visit: in one visit, Bob looked at three pages – so that was three pages per visit. The ideal number of pages per visit varies based on your site, goals and the user’s intent. Keep in mind that users like Bob might still be comparing vehicle makes, deciding what body style they like, or they might be ready to take action and buy a vehicle.
  • Avg. Visit Duration (length of time in a session): the formula to calculate average visit duration is the total duration of all visits / number of visits. This is calculated based on the time between the first hit and the last hit of the visit. The time between these two points is the visit duration.
  • Bounce Rate: this can be defined as the percentage of people who arrive on your site and leave without visiting a second page. Bounce Rate can tell you if you are targeting the right audience and meeting their expectations.

Google Analytics Benchmark Averages for Bounce Rate

  • 40-60% Content websites
  • 30-50% Lead generation sites (Car Dealers)
  • 70-98% Blogs
  • 20-40% Retail sites
  • 10-30% Service sites
  • 70-90% Landing pages

More Information on Google Analytics

Now that you know the basics, here are a few GA questions to start asking yourself:

  1. Are the numbers of new visitors and unique visitors increasing?
  2. How many new visitors is my site generating through Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic?
  3. Are there spikes in specific campaigns due to offers or seasonality?
  4. What is the users’ average time on my site? How long is taking them to find what they need?
  5. Where are most of the visitors coming from (geographically)?
  6. How high is bounce rate for new visitors? Do I need to change the landing page?
  7. What are the most visited pages on my site? How can I improve these pages?
  8. What are the most popular keywords attracting visitors to my site?

Always try to ask questions based on the results you get from each metric. Every case is different and has unique data. Your numbers are telling a story, and you have to learn how to interpret that story and use what you learn in order to improve your website’s performance.

For help setting up your Analytics account feel free to contact us!

Contact us for Analytics information

 

Harness the Power of Automatic Keyword Bidding

Until recently, in the dark days before Bid Management Tools, Pay-per-Click Strategists had the tedious task of manually optimizing Paid Search Accounts across multiple campaigns. As clients’ keyword baskets grew, so did the task of managing optimization tasks. At Strathcom Media, it soon became a heroic challenge to implement optimization.

We needed to make some changes if we were going to continue providing our clients with the best service in the industry. That was when we found Acquisio’s Bid & Budget Management (BBM), a new tool to automatically manage bids and budgets in near real-time with keyword optimizations every 30 minutes.

BBM’s automated bid capabilities significantly improved the performance on our clients’ accounts by allowing us to make multiple optimizations during the day.

What is Automatic Bidding?

Automatic bidding uses a series of rules to manage keyword bids in Paid Search Accounts. You can create various bid rules to control the automatic bidding process in order to meet the goals of each account.

At Strathcom, we still like to keep automatic bidding on a tight leash. Why? Automatic bidding can’t think by itself. Don’t expect to sit back, relax and see conversion rates magically increase after enabling automatic bid rules. Our strategy is to constantly monitor, adjust and manage automatic optimizations according to trends and other factors that the automatic process will never see.

Bid & Budget Management Dog

Leaving automatic bidding unattended is like leaving a juicy steak in front of your dog. If you’re not paying attention, something will definitely go wrong. Don’t let automatic bidding control your accounts!

BBM Case Study: Strathcom

We were amazed by the results that Bid & Budget Management (BBM) delivered. In the time that we have been using this new tool by Acquisio, we found that:

  • Average cost-per-click was reduced
  • Traffic to our clients’ websites increased
  • Budgets are now managed with pinpoint accuracy
  • Conversion rates increased!

By the end of March, average Budget Variance across accounts was -0.20%. The best part is that our clients are getting more bang for their buck.

Budget Variance Dropped -0.20% Across Accounts

BBM Variance Graph

Pre-BBM Checklist

Automated bid & budget optimization won’t deliver great results if the account is set up incorrectly or with a poor account structure to start with. Before turning on automatic optimization, does your account have the following?

  • A killer account structure
  • Awesome campaign/ad group segmentation
  • Appropriate landing pages
  • A strong keyword strategy
  • Relevant and compelling ad copy
  • A great negative keyword list

Consider dealing with any issues that could be holding it back before switching to automated keyword management.

Don’t forget about:
• Campaign Settings
• Location and Device Strategy
• Defining and Understanding your Goals
• Analyzing the Competition

While we still have to set up our clients’ accounts correctly and diligently monitor the bid rules of each account, automatic bidding is a great time saver. A properly set up account, combined with Acquisio’s BBM (Bid & Budget Management), will unleash the full power of automatic bidding – making BBM the online marketer’s best friend.