It’s 10:00 pm. Do you know where your conversions are?
I talk to a lot of people about their search campaigns in a lot of different areas. Unless they’re really into this new concept (new to them, mind you) called Search Marketing, they will often do the equivalent of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. The reason they can’t show anything for their efforts is because they’re not tracking their efforts at all, or at least not on the right level.
Guided by Goals
A separate mistake I see often–typically by PPC “professionals”–is too much front-end research and emphasis on keywords. Don’t get me wrong, this is very important. However, the proper conversion discussion ahead of time changes the conversation from pulling out a roadmap and planning a trip to California, opposed to hopping in the car and driving West.
What are your goals? Chances are it’s about making money. How are we doing that? Direct site sales? Lead generation? RSS subscriptions via advertising? More pageviews for display advertising? All of the above? Answer this question, and you’re on your way.
Let’s say we’re selling stuff on our own site. We have our code up, so we know what keywords will get sales, but now we need to build our campaign. Where do we start? My rule of thumb is to work backwards. What items do people typically put in their shopping cart? Of all those shopping carts, which ones typically close as a sale? (A greater project would be to look at all the carts that haven’t sold and figure out why there were abandoned, but that’s digressing). Now that we know what items we have been selling, now we can begin looking at keywords people use to find those items or similar ones.
Now we’re back to keyword research, and all the steps that includes, like building structured ad groups, writing solid ad copy, and picking appropriate landing pages. Chances are if you’re reading this, you at least have some experience in all those fields, but hopefully you now see why it’s important to know where your’e going and just shut up and drive.