Adwords: Click-Through vs Conversion

Once you have your Google Adwords campaign up and running, it’s really easy to get excited when you start to see your click-through-rate on the rise. It reaffirms your ad is worded well and has proven to be good bait for traffic. Plus, a high click-through-rate will always translate to a low cost-per-click as Google serves a well-performing ad more frequently.

But, is the click-through-rate really the thing you should be focused on?

Let’s take a look at a couple of example ads and the data behind them. But first, and to make this example work, we need to set the stage:

We sell green tennis shoes and nothing else.

Now, the ads:

AD #1

Green Tennis Shoe Sale
Cool green tennis shoes!
Now on sale for just $50
www.crazycheaptennishoes.com

AD #2

We sell Tennis Shoes
We have awesome tennis shoes!
Great prices!
www.crazycheaptennisshoes.com

As you can imagine, Ad #2 with it’s overall ambiguity will have a much higher click-through-rate and, subsequently, a much lower cost-per-click.

Ad #1, on the other hand, will do a great job eliminating clicks from people who may not actually be looking for green tennis shoes and don’t want to pay $50. Of course we’d also find that Ad #1, while having less clicks, had a much higher cost-per-click. That means the ad was more expensive to run.

Statistically, Ad #2 is the winner. It was cheaper to run and brought a ton of people to the website. Your executive management will be thrilled!

But, how do conversion rates figure into it?

Let’s look at the numbers in detail:

AD #1   

Clicks: 4,763
Impressions: 33,026
CTR: 14.42%
Conversions: 37
Average CPC: $0.14
Conversion Rate: 0.78%
Cost per Conv: $1.62

Ad #2

Clicks: 25,468
Impressions: 72,398
CTR: 35.18%
Conversions: 28
Average CPC: $0.03
Conversion Rate: 0.11%
Cost per Conv: $3.39

The data clearly shows that Ad #1, while generating fewer clicks, had a higher conversion rate and an overall lower cost-per-conversion.

That isn’t to say that Ad #1 is ultimately the better choice. After all, we can clearly see driving a lot of traffic for the least amount of money would be best accomplished with a more generic ad, like #2 above.

Conversion Rate vs Click-Through Rate

The choice will be yours based on your goals and online marketing budget. The main point I want to get across is, there are a variety of factors and outcomes that should be taken into consideration when starting an Adwords campaign. Make sure you’ve thought them through so you don’t have any surprises in the end that turn out to be disappointing or financially frustrating.

Happy hunting!

4 Quick Google Adwords Strategies

Google Adwords are a great way to reach your potential customers and make up for the deficit you may be encountering with search engine optimization.  But, it’s also an easy way to blow through your online marketing budget if you are not careful.

Here are a few quick strategies that will help you get the most from your Adwords campaign:

Target Languages

One of the simplest things you can do to focus your ads is to make sure you have selected a language preference. It really comes down to the languages you are ready to support through your website.

There’s no sense in having ads that will drive German-speaking consumers to your site if your site is strictly in English. Similarly, it isn’t very practical to have ads in English displaying in people’s browsers who speak German.

I’d venture to guess you won’t get a whole lot of clicks, so you may not be wasting money in a direct way, but you’ll be missing out on valuable ad impressions that could bring business your direction.

Target Regions

Along the exact same lines is choosing a region for you ads to display. You might think that setting English as your target language would take care of everything else.

What if someone in Kazakhstan who speaks English, and has his or her browser set to display English, comes across one of your ads. They click through to your website and attempt to buy what you are selling. If you aren’t prepared to ship to or provide your service to Kazakhstan, you just spent money on an ad and click through without getting a conversion.

Make sure your ads are targeted to a region where you are fully capable of doing business. Google is great at letting you drill down not just into a continent or country, but you can even select a state or city.

Depending on the nature and targeted reach of your ads, you may want to split them into different Adword campaigns according to region. This will allow you to track click through and conversion rates for each, which can prove especially useful when budgeting for future campaigns. I mention this because it is actually quite remarkable how different online shopping conversions can be for different regions of the world. People in the USA are, for example, much more likely to convert quickly as opposed to shoppers in the UK.

Graphic Ads

Most people assume that Google Adwords are just that, word ads. But, the fact is, Google serves up a huge amount of graphic or image ads through its Adsense program and the Google Display Network.

imgad

Anyone with a blog or website can sign up to be part of the Display Network and Google pays them to run ads, both text and graphic, on their website. You can actually choose to have your text ads included with those served in the Adsense program.

But, not all websites participating in the Adsense program allocate space for text ads, or the space in which they do is likely to be anything optimal (crammed with a bunch of other ads in a side column).

Graphic or image ads will be displayed through the Display Network at a higher rate than text ads and normally have a much lower cost-per-click and outperform text ads with clicks by a huge margin. In some cases, I have seen graphic ads get 300-400% more clicks than text ads, at 50% cost-per-click.

Google also makes it very easy for you to see the websites where your Display Network  ads are being displayed. Make sure you look through the list on a regular basis and if any seem unlikely to bring good, quality traffic, move them to the Exclusions list.

Quality Score

Another thing Google provides is a Quality Score warning. You’ll see this appear when it has been determined the ad and landing page are not in sync to make for a good conversion.

In other words, Google has scanned the ad and the landing page and found the keywords you’ve used in the ad are not relevant or found in the page where you are directing the traffic. It’s like having an ad that says “Sweaters Now On Sale” driving people to a page featuring running shoes.

Make sure to pay attention when Google gives a Quality Score warning, since you’d likely be wasting money on people who make clicks on that particular ad.

That’s it for now. The tips I have outlined above should help you to refine your Adword campaigns and reduce unnecessary clicks (and expense).

Happy hunting!

Digital Brand Integration

I’m not really going to go into everything that encompasses branding except to say that it is a whole lot more than merely creating and plopping a logo on everything. If that raises questions, I suggest you refer to a few of my previous posts with regard to branding. The larger concepts you should be familiar with are the notions that good brand strategy incorporates things like relevancy, positioning and differentiation.

Differentiation is probably the most important component of these three.

Differentiation means being different. That stretches across your advertising, products, delivery, packaging and customer service. It means that your company or product will be memorable to you consumer. To accomplish this, everything that you do should be unique, yet consistent. Of course that includes the company name and logo, but it also goes so much further.

I am currently working for a company that is carving out a niche in a crowded market. What makes us different? Our one-of-a-kind customer service. It comes across in everything we do. Someone might say we don’t have the best website, the coolest advertising or the best product (which we know is definitely not true!), but no one will say that we are not completely customer-focused.

Focus is how you maintain your differentiation. It is the consistency in messaging, identity and actions. Focus is the method for staying on track and living up to your unique brand promise (which is how you plan and deliver being different). It can be difficult at times. It’s like slipping off a diet or reverting to old habits. But, truly successful companies are the ones who are disciplined and skilled at staying focused.

The method for delivering this focused differentiation is communication, and in this day and age, that more often than not comes in the form of digital communications or digital marketing. And, Digital Brand Integration is the art and science of creating consistent messaging across numerous digital channels and retaining consistency, even if there are several people working with the brand.

Companies now have to think about a wide array of touch-points where they will either present one-side (or more traditional marketing) communications or actually interact with their consumers. These touch-points include things like affiliate marketing, social media, rich media, email campaigns, search (organic and paid), feed services (e.g. Twitter), Blogs and PR engines. In most cases there will be anywhere from a couple people to a dozen handling marketing on these avenues.

Being successful means integrating the aforementioned brand promise and maintaining strict focus. It’s not easy, especially if you have either a very large, or very small team.

Large teams usually result in mixed messaging because of a typical decentralization of control. It is extremely critical for large team leadership to have real-world experience in the digital arena. This will ensure there is a breadth of knowledge and understanding as to how messaging and focus can be adhered to across all channels. I was recently involved with a company whose marketing leadership had no clear-cut understanding of digital marketing and to say that the brand promise and messaging was murky at best, is a complete understatement.

Small teams are normally overwhelmed and succumb to the process of spreading themselves too thin to retain any sense of focus. I personally believe a small team would be in a far better position to limit their digital marketing efforts, concentrating on perfecting their focus, than to wade off the deep end and try to take on everything at once. Narrowing their reach, with better focus, will be tremendously better for the brand. And, it will create strong launch-off points for growing successful additional digital reach.

Brand building today relies heavily on Digital Brand Integration. It’s walking the walk and talking the talk. It represents the consistency and fulfillment of the differentiation promise, and consumers today are very savvy when it comes to either seeing or seeing through promises.

3 Gorgeous e-Commerce User Interfaces

One could argue that when it comes to the Internet that the pointy end of the spear will always be the e-Commerce sites. After all, if you’re not actually selling something on the web, then who knows what you’re doing on there (I’m teasing!). And if you are selling something then your life (or at least livelihood) depends on traffic and sales (I’m not teasing!).

Selling services online is nothing like selling products. It’s easy for brochure sites to reel in people. All they need is sensible navigation, relevant content, clear calls-to-action and a smart marketing plan that drives people to the site.

e-Commerce sites need all of that and more. They need near perfect user interfaces (UI) and remarkable user experiences (UX).

Some people might argue that those two things, UI and UX, are basically the same thing. I am one who believes there are significant differences.

UI is the interaction between humans and machines. It is the ability for the user to effectively conduct a particular operation and control the machine. Good UI design allows feedback from the machine to aid the operator in making operational decisions. Good UI is also intuitive, enjoyable and efficient and creates an environment where the operator provides minimal input to achieve desired output(s).

UX design takes that one step further. It defines a sequence of interactions between a user and a system, whether virtual or physical, that is designed to meet or support user needs and goals.

A clean navigational structure on a website is good UI. The act of someone using that navigation and arriving at a particular goal in a manner that is free from confusion, missteps or crutches (add-on fixes) is good UX.

I have recently finished one e-Commerce consulting engagement and am about to embark on another. In both cases, a portion of the project was or is being devoted to cleaning up some cumbersome user experiences. I like to use examples in my UI/UX comparison presentation so the client can get a visual understanding of good design. These three sites I have come to find represent near perfect e-Commerce user experiences:

Jaqk Cellers

Jaqk Cellers e-Commerce UI Screenshot

Without question, the website is exquisite. The colors are wonderfully muted so that the wine bottles are beautifully showcased and the navigation is foolproof. Look at that screenshot of the cart! Could it be any easier to use? The design team truly lived by the principle that you know you are finished with the design not when there is nothing else to add, but when there is nothing more to remove. My only critique comes in that some of the links do not have a hover state, meaning they do not change when I roll over them. The same applies to a couple of boxes on the page. I think when you get this stripped down you need a little link interaction so the user doesn’t miss what can and cannot be clicked. Beautiful.

Bridge 55

Bridge 55 e-Commerce UI Screenshot

There is a lot to love with the Bridge 55 site. It’s clean, the cart is intuitively functional and the design is wonderful. As they say, God is in the details, and there isn’t a single detail that has been overlooked. Even the littlest graphical elements have a custom touch…all of it pulling the site together perfectly. I especially like the top of the page; the navigation is clean and the cart details easy to see and interact with. Another big plus is the fact that their blog uses the same page header so it is a seamless transition to and from the blog. My dislikes? Well, I don’t have many, but there are a few buttons that have the same look and color as the Add To Cart button. It’s not really that big of a deal except for the Add This button (for social media adds) which could easily be mistaken for the Add To Cart and may actually stand out more than it should with the orange plus sign on it. I am also not a big fan of the homepage, which has a feature element that looks like it was designed by someone from another planet (or the marketing department).

Anthropologie

Anthropologie e-Commerce UI Screenshot

There is no doubt that this is the best e-Commerce site I think I have ever seen. It is truly perfect when it comes to UI/UX. The navigation is so simple, even as you move through the site, that it almost seems like they are selling two or three sweaters and a couple pairs of shoes. But don’t be fooled, they have a lot of stuff on this site and it is easy to find, review, add to your cart….and buy! The design is modern and clean with tons of white space and the muted colors make the products leap off the page. I especially like the next and previous arrows on the top right of the item page that let you navigate through the entire collection without having to return to the full collection page. But, there’s a handy link to the full collection too if you need it. My only complaint…that would be the ugly Facebook Like button they have on the item page. They have some other social media buttons on the page that have been redesigned so they go with their site, so I am not sure why they have the blue Like button plopped on there like that unless it’s to make sure it is recognizable (but it does detract from the design….and I am not yet convinced those stupid Like buttons really have that much ROI in them!).

I hope you find these three sites as compelling as I do. If you have some you think are standouts, please share them. I am always looking for great examples.

Latest Project: B&B 4 Sale Site

Here’s the latest project to be completed. It’s the For Sale site for the Mauger Estate Bed & Breakfast located in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.Let me just say, this is truly an amazing place.

I was involved in the rebranding and digital marketing project when the current owner bought the property back in 2005, and she has done an incredible job updating the rooms and transforming the entire B&B. While built in 1897, and on the National Historic Registry, you would never guess it when you step into the lovingly restored and maintained rooms.

This project was simple: design a site that showcases the fantastic rooms and gives potential owners a complete sense of the overall beauty of the entire house. I think we did a pretty good job. You can view the site here: www.nmbedandbreakfast4sale.com.

More importantly however, if you’re looking to buy a B&B, look no further…this is the place!

And if you not exactly looking to buy, but are just passing through Albuquerque and need a great place to stay, look up Tammy Walden and the Mauger Estate. She makes a mean breakfast and has a complimentary afternoon wine and cheese serving!

Tell her Tony sent you. 😉

Digital Marketing Strategy – The Basic Planning

As most businesses have found out over the last few years, marketing online requires a whole lot more than just having a website, optimizing it some for the search engines and maybe buying some adwords. Doing just those things will leave you way behind the pack and struggling for traffic and return visits.

These days a digital strategy can be really complicated and can include a number of components, such as:

  • Designing your overall brand experiences (beyond just the website — this should encompass everything that your business represents — and should be translated to your website).
  • Coding those experiences for mobile and other access, not just the web.
  • Deploying these brand experiences in ways where analytics and data can be easily accessed, consumer engagement can be measured and effectiveness can be measured.  
  • Hosting the digital experiences in easy-to-maintain and updatable environments, such as a CMS.
  • Having sufficient resources, people and technology, that can evolve as needs shift.
There is a lot going on there that needs to be mulled over before jumping in and building a website. If you just start building a site without getting at the core essence of the business first, you will fall flat on your face in no time. The key thing is, stepping back and getting a good grasp of the company’s business goals. 
Define the vision and business and operational strategy for the company and brand in general. Then, take that a step further and determine the specific marketing objectives for customers and product lines. Once you have all of that in place you can begin to determine how your current business processes should either be supported by a web presence or altered to accommodate a new way of thinking. 
Business objectives and digital marketing strategy must go hand-in-hand. Otherwise you are building out something that will only drain precious resources and pull the business in a direction where targeted expectations cannot be met. 
A sound emarketing strategy will always be built on sound business goals — not on online marketing aspirations. Success will always come from focus and exploited opportunities, leading to market-share growth and a competitive advantage.
Step 1 in your digital marketing strategy should always be the establishment of a sound business strategy.