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Case Study: A Sustainable Paid Search Strategy

January 19, 2015 | |

Traffic Increase
Source: SEM Rush

It’s easy to get caught up in the complexities of Adwords. Without a doubt, there’s a ton of functionality and the Devil is in the details. With that said, by focusing on the fundamentals we have been able to boost a number of valuable metrics to increase reach, bring down cost per conversion, and add revenue.

Think Like a Consumer

We began analyzing the declining performance of a retailer of outdoor gear. On paper, their campaigns were solid. They targeted keywords that they ranked well for, and worked hard to build quality landing pages with relevant products. Still, costs per conversion continued to climb. And overall conversions remained flat.

Our first step was to sort through our list of keywords and pick out purchase-driven queries. Forget the keywords that led to visits. What were the keywords that led to sales? By focusing on more exact matches and phrase matches, we immediately began to see a boost to our average position and click through rates.

Avg Position vs CTR
Average position moves up the page while click through rates increase.

This is an exciting graph for any PPC campaign manager. However, it only tells part of the story. Clicks are good, but they’re not the ultimate goal.

Control Your Traffic

A frequent concern our clients have with PPC is losing control of their campign. Indeed, with the amount of money businesses spend on paid search, it’s a valid concern. How do you control the clicks you spend so much for? The answer is a lot of hard work.

We put in many hours making adjustments to the keywords we targeted, and analyzing a variety of metrics until we began to see results like the graph above. In it, you can see the quality of traffic is improving.  As the click through rate increases, the bounce rate goes down, indicating the traffic coming in is engaged with the page they’ve been brought to.

Bounce Rate vs CTR
Click through rates increase and bounce rates drop, indicating higher quality traffic.

Still, reducing the bounce rate is not the ultimate goal. Visitors remaining on the site and navigating the store is positive, but it’s not a true return on the investment.

Focus on Return

 Now we’re talking. Converted clicks continue to rise as CTR increases. These numbers show a return on investment. Not only are we getting more clicks, not only are we getting more engaged traffic, we’re getting engaged traffic that converts. Visitors coming in from our advertisements are taking the action we intended them to.

Clicks Vs Converted Clicks
Clicks mean nothing without conversions. We were able in boost the number of converted clicks over time.

There’s still more to look at though. Sure we’re generating a return on our investment. But what is the state of that investment? Getting clicks to convert is great but getting clicks to convert for cheap is even better.

Focus on Investment

 Once you get the conversions coming, you can start to bring down the costs of your campaign. By improving landing pages, focusing on ad quality, and further refining your keywords you can begin to bring down your costs per click while also improving your average position (See the graph above).

Average PPC vs Average Position
We worked hard to improve page position while dropping the average cost per click.

In time, we were able to stabilize our cost while continuing to drop the cost per converted click.

Cost vs. Cost/Converted Click
Cost stabilized while cost per converted click continues to fall.

PPC Lessons Learned

This campaign utilized good old fashioned elbow grease. Analyze, refine, repeat. By keeping our eyes on the prize and tackling our goals in stride, we were able to build a profitable and more importantly sustainable campaign. Of course, the work’s not done. Successful PPC management involves constant monitoring and tweaking.

organic traffic vs paid traffic
An increase in paid transactions correlates to an increase in organic transactions.

Interestingly, we’ve also documented a positive trend in our organic traffic as paid traffic improved. This is an exciting correlation that we believe in firmly. If you increase your paid Traffic you WILL increase your organic traffic. It’s not magic, many of the same factors that increase your paid position are signals for Google’s organic results. Beyond that, successful PPC means engaged visitors and longer times on site, still more signals that improve organic rankings.

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We work with clients across a huge range of industries. Call us at 866.590.4650 and learn more about how we can help. From consulting to full-on management, we work to build measurable growth and sustainable returns.

Brian co-founded IntuitSolutions, and has been leading our team for more than 15 years. He jumps between his roles as CEO, Salesman, and Project Manager - making sure that our goals are met and that our customers are thrilled with what they receive.

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