Don’t you find it odd that most “marketing secrets” are just common sense these days?
It’s extremely rare that you stumble upon PPC secrets that are actually secrets.
Most of the PPC secrets out there are already widely adopted, which, by definition, makes them the opposite of secrets.
So today, I want to let you in on a little secret about my PPC management secrets:
These are extremely actionable tactics that work universally well for all verticals across lead gen, SaaS, and eCommerce.
And the best thing? No one really uses these tactics.
In fact, I presented these PPC secrets I use in my agency on stage in front of a thousand sharp marketers at Unbounce’s 2016 Call To Action Conference, and here are the slides:
You can also grab the slides in PDF format here.
So, let’s jump right into it…
PPC Secret #1 – The Iceberg Effect
Knowing which keywords and ads are responsible for your conversions is pretty simple and easy. You just have regular conversion tracking set up to track that.
But what happens when your keywords are not really the things that are getting you conversions?
That’s the secret: it’s your search terms.
And there’s a very big chance that you have a humongous keyword to search discrepancy that’s slowly bleeding your AdWords, Bing Ads, or Facebook account dry from money being spent on users that will never convert.
If you look inside of your AdWords Search network campaign today, I 100% guarantee you that you’ll always have more search terms than you have keywords.
The keywords are what you control and what you’re bidding on. But the search terms are what Google is controlling and what you’re paying for.
This means that one of your single keywords, out of the potential hundreds (or more) you’re bidding on, could easily have hundreds of search terms.
This means that it’s actually a mix of your search terms that are getting you conversions, more so than your keywords.
Once you actually start focusing on lowering your search term to keyword discrepancy, you regain more control, and you not only improve your cost per acquisition, but the many other metrics you care about in managed AdWord campaigns.
Beyond Search: “Iceberg-ing” The Display Network
But this doesn’t just happen within your Search network campaigns.
It happens on the Display network when your automatic placements outnumber your targeted placements and when your Facebook interests are grouped together to create a bigger audience size, without you being able to breakdown the individual interest performance.
So how do you take advantage of The Iceberg Effect?
Create Single Keyword Ad Groups from your search term reports and extract what you can from your automatic placements reports and granulate your social PPC audiences as much as possible.
PPC Secret #2 – PPC Traffic Temperatures
If you’ve ever had success with PPC marketing, there’s a good chance that you got your start on by placing your text ads on the Google Ads Search network.
And as with any ambitious business owner, you wanted to see if you could expand and take advantage of other PPC channels, like the Display network and Facebook for example.
So you do what any logical person would do:
You take your call to action (CTA) offer of what was working on the Search network and replicate it everywhere else.
But you fail miserably.
Even though the cost per clicks might be cheaper on Display or Social network, you hardly get any conversions. Or even if you do, they’re of crap quality.
Sounds familiar, right?
It has to do with a very simple principle that I call “The Chuck Norris PPC Cycle”.
The Chuck Norris PPC Cycle
And as you know, you can’t beat Chuck Norris, you can only obey him.
So what does that mean for you?
It means that different visitors who come from different PPC channels have completely different conversion intents.
It also means that you need to do a better job matching your CTA offer with the temperature and conversion intent of that traffic.
The Ice Cube & Lava Scale
In simpler terms, you need to follow the Ice Cube & Lava scale:
What this scale shows is that the colder your traffic, the lower your offer’s threat level has to be to expect conversions.
And you can replicate this same logic to other types of PPC channels so you cover all your bases: Display, Video, Social, and Search.
Let’s say that you’re a B2B PPC advertiser and your ultimate PPC goal is to generate leads through the CTA of a “Free Consultation”.
You might get that to work very well on the Search network because of your visitors having the “hot intent” of wanting what you have to offer.
But if you try to replicate that “Free Consultation” CTA on the Display network where a visitor has clicked a banner ad (and wasn’t searching for you), you can see how it gets pretty hard to expect them to convert right?
So to fix this and help you out, we compiled the different types of CTA offers that we’ve been using for our clients and the breakdown of conversion success looks pretty much like this scale:
There’s one very important thing to keep in mind, however:
If you don’t have a plan to take a Display visitor from a cold offer to a warm offer, then all your work will be for no good.
Your email nurturing and retargeting nurturing needs to help bridge the gap from one stage of your marketing funnel to the next, so that you can eventually make the money you want to.
Keep in mind that if you don’t understand your PPC traffic temperatures and their individual conversion intents, then this PPC secret won’t work for you.
In fact, you might as well keep trying brute force, Marshawn Lynch-style, and hope that that works.
(Pro Tip: It won’t work.)
PPC Secret #3 – The Importance of Micro Conversions
Alright, so perhaps you’re already well on your way implementing PPC secrets number 1 and 2.
You’re running new PPC campaigns across different channels and networks, but you’re not getting the conversions volumes you were expecting.
You get upset.
You’re now considering sending me a glitter bomb because you feel like I lied to you about the instant success of these PPC secrets.
But not so fast. (Although I do appreciate gifts).
There’s a good chance that your execution is off. And because of that, it’s time to find out where your bottlenecks are.
See, before users can complete a macro conversion (the end goal you want to take place), many micro conversions need to take place.
Most of the time these micro conversions are linear in nature, so it’s easy for you to locate, diagnose, and fix the issue.
If you’re in the lead gen or SaaS space and use lead capture forms on your landing pages, then you’re familiar with the steps a visitor must take leading up to the macro conversion happening.
When you’re tracking your micro conversions you can quickly see that it might not be the landing page that has a problem. It could be the ads, or the visitors you’re attracting, or even the order of your form fields.
Take a look at the difference in “Average Session Duration” between these three AdWords campaigns:
The cool thing is that you can track this “time on site” micro conversion through Google Analytics and break down your metrics at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level.
In addition, you can use tools like Hotjar to track form field dwell times (how many seconds it takes for one person to fill out one field on your form), re-fill rates, and Crazy Egg for scroll depth at the PPC channel level.
Finding that certain fields on your forms are the biggest micro conversion blockers?
You could use multi step landing pages to help eliminate that bottleneck.
PPC Secret #4 – Optimize For Sales, Not Conversions
Let’s say that you’ve started taking The Iceberg Effect seriously and you create Single Keyword Ad Groups at scale.
You’re seeing improvements in click-through-rates, quality scores, and cost per click.
You’ve lowered the search term to keyword discrepancy so you have more control over the keywords and search terms that are actually generating conversions.
Time to go one step further…
Let’s say that a conversion on your landing page is not black and white like an eCommerce purchase. Let’s say that you’re generating leads or users for your SaaS product.
You now know which keywords and search terms are producing conversions, but do you know which ones are producing sales?
Conversion Comparisons: See The Whole Picture
Take a common example of someone who has set up PPC conversion tracking. All things being equal, which keyword is performing better?
But this is just a fraction of the whole picture.
How do these two keywords perform when it comes to generating sales, as a lead over the phone or through your SaaS onboarding?
Let’s add in some sales tracking data that’s coming from your CRM. Now which keyword is performing best?
More importantly, it’s time you stopped focusing your keywords around a common account CPA goal.
Scale Up Your Bids For Warmer Leads
Once you pair your lead data with your sales data, you’ll be able to be more aggressive with certain bids for certain types of PPC traffic that has a higher likelihood of leading to sales.
To track this, you’ll want two things:
- URL parameter tracking
- Hidden fields
The hidden fields are what you add to your sign up/lead gen form so it can capture the data that’s in the URL when a visitor converts. If you’re using a landing page builder like Unbounce, then it’s incredibly easy.
Now, once you identify the sales rates of your keywords, you basically start discovering what “Multi Intent Keywords” are.
This means that within your Search network campaign, your keywords start acting like they have different PPC channel temperatures and you should start considering to treat them individually based on their conversion intent and the CTA offer their most receptive to.
PPC Secret #5 – F*** Your PPC Metrics
This isn’t as much of a PPC secret as it is a rant.
There are very few things that move the needle in regards to PPC performance faster than focusing on a hybrid approach of PPC and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Once you embrace the fact that your website or landing page is the decision point for conversions — not your ads — you’ll see how much potential a CRO mindset has for your PPC performance.
See, it’s very easy to get caught up in bullshit PPC metrics and acronyms…
And while these metrics are important, they’re only guiding lights. They’re not Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
If you’ve truly exhausted all CRO and sales value increase opportunities, then sure, focus on these metrics as your next optimization phase.
But I doubt that’s where you are since you’re reading this post 🙂
Be okay with sacrificing your quality scores if that 1/10 keyword is making you money.
Instead, focus your time on improving your conversion rates. Not because Google Ads is saying your landing page relevance is low.
Like I mentioned in the opening of this post, great PPC secrets are hard to come by. And one day, these PPC secrets will no longer be secrets.
It’s up to you to do what your competitors aren’t willing to do. And it’s mostly because they’re too lazy to do anything that truly moves the needle, and more importantly, makes more money.