The main goals of paid search optimization are to improve clickthrough rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR). CTR improvements come from continuous split testing of ad text; CVR improvements come from testing of destination pages and using historical data to pause underperforming campaigns, ad groups and keywords.
Ad Split Testing
Several elements of a PPC ad can be split tested to continuously improve CTR. Being strategic in ad split testing is important, because seemingly minor changes can have as large an impact on CTR as major ones. For instance, it would not be unusual to obtain a bigger boost in CTR from changing a word in the ad text than from increasing the value of the offer. In the early stages of the campaign, create a list of planned tests to be executed over the course of the first several months. The initial testing schedule can be somewhat generalized, because campaign data will help pin down the specifics. For instance, at the outset of a campaign, scheduling tests of different offers during month three is sufficient. The CTR of the initial offer, along with any data and insight gained from conversions, will help determine what alternate offer may have greater appeal.
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Destination Page Testing
Similar to ad testing, seemingly small changes to destination pages can have a big impact on conversions. But whereas PPC ad text is limited to text — and a small amount, at that — destination pages theoretically can be of any length, and have a wide number of elements that can be changed to affect CVR. For effective destination page testing, the PPC management company must be skilled in several areas:
- Copywriting. There is an art to writing long copy and short copy, an art to writing B2C copy, and an art to writing B2B copy. General writing skill is not enough to produce effective text.
- Design. Beyond the text itself, the layout of a destination page, its imagery, and a host of other design elements affect CVR.
- Development. The functionality of a submission form, the speed at which the destination page loads, the ability to display dynamic headlines and imagery based on the user's search keywords, and other Web development functions have an impact on CVR and can be the basis of a test or used to support one.
- CRO. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a set of techniques and continual testing used to draw users into a conversion funnel and persuade them to take action. Copywriters, designers and front-end developers must understand these techniques.
- UX. User experience (UX) optimization is the art and science of giving users an excellent experience on a Web page or website. UX involves a variety of best practices for copywriting, design and on-page functionality; for example, the use of bullet points, contrast, and page-loading speed. Copywriters, designers, front-end developers and back-end developers must have an appreciation of UX principles to conceptualize and execute destination page testing.
Paid search optimization is ultimately what makes PPC investments pay off. Seldom if ever does an initial campaign come close to producing the CTR and CVR it is potentially capable of producing. Reaching that potential is mainly a function of testing ads and landing pages methodically, consistently and creatively. A PPC management company's ability to execute PPC optimization is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a partner to manage PPC campaigns.
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