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Original Publication Date: December 25, 2016
If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s feeling really confident in what I do.
You won’t find me pounding my chest after climbing the side of a mountain (although I freakin’ would if I actually did that). But you will find me pounding my metaphorical chest after I double the performance of a PPC account.
But for me to do that, there have to be some PPC tactics I go to again and again. You know, my “go-to” PPC tactics.
The Iceberg Effect
If there’s one thing you and I can agree on, it’s that a lot of PPC tactics out there don’t move the needle.
- Test your ad copy.
- Use ad extensions.
- Optimize your bids.
That advice is decent, but it doesn’t transform the performance of a PPC account the way you hope.
And let’s be honest. No one wants to push a ton of buttons for hours on end with no PPC results to show for their work.
Instead, let’s look at something that does have that kind of transformative power. I’m talking about the basis for one of my all-time favorite PPC tactics — The Iceberg Effect.
Simply speaking, The Iceberg Effect is a negative phenomenon that happens when your:
- Search terms outnumber your keywords
- Automatic placements outnumber your display targeting
- Audience levels outnumber ad set targeting
When this happens, you gradually lose more and more control in your PPC accounts. And this can happen in search, display, social, and video too.
To give you an easy example, consider this scenario:
The keyword is what you control, but the search term is what you pay for.
If you only use your search term report to add negative keywords, you’ll slowly bleed your performance dry.
Instead, you have to look at your search term report and understand that each search term has a different conversion and sales rate.
And if you keep them as search terms, then you can never control them to get more of them.
Impacts Of The Iceberg Effect
Controlling your ratio of keywords to search terms is crucial if you’re in the lead gen or SaaS space because your sales don’t happen within the PPC account. They happen over the phone or through your user onboarding.
And The Iceberg Effect isn’t just for the search network, it happens on the display network too.
The whole point of this PPC tactic is to extract what’s working so you can control it.
- Extract your search terms and turn them into keywords
- Extract your automatic placements
- Granulate your social audiences by using less targeting layers
With this, you’ll then want to use something called Single Keyword Ad Groups, which has a methodology that works for display and social PPC campaigns as well.
Almost 400 people have commented on our post about this tactic.
Why? Because it works.
Tracking The Piggy Bank
When it comes to lead gen and SaaS marketing efforts fueled by PPC campaigns, it’s easy to say that PPC generally works.
But what’s not easy is pinpointing exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Let’s look at this another way. If each of your keywords, placements, and audience targeting layers were individual salespeople, you’d also want to know how they were performing.
Are they actually closing deals? Or are they a bunch of slackers who collect a salary but never make a sale?
Consider this scenario, which probably appears in your PPC metrics in some form:
But that isn’t the full story.
A lead generated doesn’t stay as a lead. It either turns into a sale, is lost, or disqualified.
So why would you optimize for conversions but not sales? Once you have that data, your PPC optimization efforts change.
To track sales data at this granular level, you need either automatic ValueTrack parameters or manual UTM parameters. You’ll also need hidden field tracking that can attach the keyword, placement, or audience level data to the person’s name, email, phone number and any other info you collect.
Super Hot or Ice Cold?
Another realization we’ve come to here at KlientBoost is that you can’t achieve PPC success with brute force alone.
A lot of advertisers come our way and tell us that display or social advertising hasn’t worked for them, without considering that their execution may be askew.
With that in mind, we’ve created a scale of PPC traffic temperature channels and the calls to action (CTAs) that match up best for the highest chance of a conversion.
As you can see above, display advertising usually has low intent, as it’s cold traffic that usually won’t convert on high-temperature CTAs.
But if you have PPC search traffic that’s looking for what you have to offer, then you’re more likely to be successful with CTAs that ask for a higher commitment from the visitor, like a “free consultation.”
As logical as this PPC tactic is, it also takes some resources to be able to create multiple variations of different calls to action so you have enough ammunition to test.
Optimizing For Micro Conversions
If PPC campaigns brought in revenue the moment they went live, there’d be no point for PPC agencies like us to exist.
Lucky for us, PPC isn’t as easy as some people think. (That’s also why we write a buttload of content to help you out.)
So as you launch your new PPC campaigns and you don’t get any conversion traction, there’s a good chance you turn it off.
But you shouldn’t.
Instead, you should start optimizing for the micro-conversions that lead to your macro conversion (your actual conversion).
One of our favorite micro conversions is “time-on-site”. If a visitor doesn’t stick around for more than five seconds, then it would be tough to expect them to fill out a landing page form.
If this is the reality, then instead of testing ads or landing pages, we want to look at our targeting first. Because if users are leaving that quickly, there must be something fundamentally wrong with our campaign.
If you launch the “avg session duration” column in your Google Ads account, then you can see the average time on site down to the keyword level — which helps you diagnose any questions you have.
Some other micro-conversions we look at are:
So when a PPC campaign isn’t working, don’t give up. Look for micro conversions you can optimize for. Once you improve those, you’ll be one step closer to your actual conversion goal.
Which PPC Tactic Will You Try First?
Now that you have four different PPC tactics to try, which one will you go for first?
I recommend you start there. Let us know how it goes!