PPC makes sense for a lot of business models, but that doesn’t stop snares and hiccups from popping up along the way. Whether you’re a novice or a maverick, PPC is a puzzle of trends, tools, and profit just waiting to be solved. General advice works in certain instances, but sometimes one must deal in specifics to unravel the algorithmic mysteries shrouding the otherwise straight-forward path to ROI.

Case One: Doing everything “right” but converting traffic drops off and impressions are all but nonexistent.

Let’s take Gordon, and his online furniture store. Gordon built up his company in the wake of the dot-com bust, when a lot of the major players were knocked out. He leveraged the power of e-commerce on a back-end system he built himself. His website, while mildly dated by today’s standards, still has an acceptable user interface, and is relatively easy to navigate. Here’s where Gordon’s site runs into issues:

A gated shopping cart, which means the user has to login to make any purchases. Studies around shopping cart abandonment show 67.89% of users leave before converting, and this number only increases when they have to spend the extra time to create a password for a shopping interface.

Not bidding on branded terms, which means competitors own the majority of the SERP when potential customers and repeat customers searched for queries specifically targeting your brand. Now that ads take up 80% of the SERP above the fold, organic listings have a harder time standing out.

Not leveraging targeting to ensure spend is being used cost-effectively, which means the data around when and how to engage users is under-utilized and money is going out the window.

So Gordon has these three problems that are extremely common. Luckily they are also really easy to fix. Here’s how Gordon fixed his account:

Step One: Remove the Gate From the Shopping Cart

We’re well into 2015, and there’s no excuse to still have a shopping cart protected by a log-in gate. Gordon chose the lowest-maintenance way to remove the gate: add a function that allows users to continue as guests (with the disclaimer that their credit card information would not be saved). This means the structure of the site remains, while allowing users to pass from product page to check-out easily and without the off-putting sign-up screen. This is not to say the sign-up screen couldn’t be a part of the purchase process – in fact, one of the reasons Amazon is so successful at ecommerce is it creates users in the check-out process.

Another option for Gordon if he wanted to do a little more back-end work is adding the option to sign-up with Facebook, Google+, or Amazon. By using these big-name services, it adds a degree of legitimacy to “signing-up” as well as making it easier on the user to give the ecommerce platform more information about themselves. While these tools are easier to use when working on a template site (WordPress, Wix, Shopify, etc.) they can bring value to any platform.

A final option for Gordon’s furniture store is to move the point of transaction from the website to commerce hubs like Amazon, Ebay.com, Etsy.com and other venues that invest in PPC on behalf of the users, as well as offering PPC packages that may or may not yield better results than the site sees on its own.


Step Two: Setting Up a Campaign for Branded Terms

Now that the danger of shopping cart abandonment has been mitigated (as much as it can be), Gordon moved onto his second problem: competitors on his page!

The first thing he did was create a campaign with all of the keywords associated with the company brand. This campaign ensures that when a user searches for his site by name, they will have less opportunities to accidentally fall into a competitor’s pipeline. It is a general good practice to put high CPC’s on branded terms because this ensures competitors can’t sneak in to what should be a branded page. It is important to note that the max CPC will likely not be reached.

The other thing Gordon can do is claim the local listings for the business, as well as ensure all eligible extensions are applied and live. While this doesn’t have anything to do with bidding on branded terms, they directly impact how complete ownership of the page is. Claiming local listings is easy, but can be time consuming because it often requires sending in for and responding to a postcard. The value is immeasurable, however, as it ensures you have that many more opportunities to show on the page.

Extensions represent a free way to get more out of ads since they will take up more real estate on the SERP, as well as generate more data on user activity and engagement. Gordon added local extensions, site link extensions, call out extensions, and phone extensions. Site link extensions made a lot of sense on the branded terms, as it allows users to easily navigate to sections they think they’ll find the product they’re looking for, while the call out extensions allowed for an extra line of ad text.

Step Three: Set Time and Device Targeting

Since the majority of Gordon’s traffic comes from desktop traffic, but his campaigns were targeting mobile and desktop equally, the first step was to turn mobile bidding to 0%. This ensured none of the campaign spend was being directed to devices where the data pointed to no conversions. It also ensured that he wouldn’t pay for the phone extensions, since he saw the data pointed to the website being the main hub for transactions. Additionally, the few clicks he saw coming from mobile seemed to bounce fairly quickly.

The second step in Gordon’s targeting plans is to ensure the ads are running when his prime prospects are searching for his products. Since most restaurant managers are focusing on clients from early evening to late night, and are doubly invested on weekends, Gordon decided to target from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. He choose this time frame so the site would get access to leads nationally, while following the trends of his customers. By adding in this targeting, he’s able to decrease wasted spend by $300 per month and has seen an increase in targeted leads.

Gordon is well on his way to PPC happiness, and you can be too! Interested in a complementary Premier Consulting Call with an AdWords Certified Professional? Apply to be our next case-study subject and learn how we can work together to make you a PPC rock star!

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