Effective PPC Managers tend to be a bit neurotic. There is no point in denying it. No sane or rational person would want to tackle the vast mounds of data and analysis that we encounter on a daily basis. But for those of us actively invested in the field, it is a passion and way of life. We are constantly looking for new ways to analyze data. We love chopping up reports, creating pivot tables, charts and graphs galore. We feed off of new ways to look at old data, unique analysis and ideas. In other words, we love to optimize. And as any good PPC Manager will tell you, optimization starts with a solid foundation. You need to have a good account structure.
A solid foundation or account structure is all about proper segmentation. For example, we could easily take 1 campaign and slice and dice it into 2, 5, 10 or 20 campaigns. As we do so, we narrow the focus of each campaign as the audience becomes more targeted. In turn, this then allows us to tailor the campaign based on that audience and to receive more accurate and segmented reporting. We can bid to more accurately reflect the quality of the audience we are targeting, set more appropriate budgets, target our ad copy and landing pages and much more. The possibilities are nearly endless. Some of my favorite ways to segment an account are as follows.
- Medium (Search or Display)
- Network (Owned and Operated or Partner Network)
- Match Type
Today I am going to start a series of blog posts covering the various ways that we love to segment our campaigns here at Webtrends.
Breaking out your account by theme and content is the most basic of PPC strategies. It all starts here. If your account is not structured properly on this level, none of the other segmentation options really make a lot of sense. Campaigns should be broken out by high level categories. For example, a retailer might have a “Men’s Shoes”, “Men’s Shirts”, “Men’s Pants” and a “Men’s Sweaters” campaign. Campaigns are where we set budgets and most targeting options. They should reflect the structure of the business. The ad groups should then all fit neatly into the parent campaign. Going with the example above, the “Men’s Shoes” campaign might have a “Nike”, “Adidas” and “Reebok” ad group. The keywords and ad copy in each ad group should then correspond to the parent. This allows you to target your ad copy and landing pages to users that are, for example, searching for Nike shoes.
The sample here is extremely basic but it does prove the point. Your account needs to be broken out by content in order to targetyour message, budget and bids to the right user. In a real life situation, the “Men’s Shoes” campaign would likely be a dozen or so campaigns based on the style of shoe. We have dress shoes, running shoes, sandals, boat shoes and more. Each of these represents a different business division and has a different target end user. Whenever you inherit a new account this is always one of the first places pieces that needs to be addressed. A good starting point is to talk to your client (or manager if you are internal) about the business and how they see it broken out. A good account structure often reflects the way a CEO or marketing executive will think about the business. Another strategy would be to look at the client’s website. Often times, the site is already segmented by High level categories, sub-categories and products. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
We recently took on a new client here at Webtrends. The foundational structure of the existing account was solid. Thematically, the account made sense and was structured according to the company’s various priorities and business divisions. However, we were having some trouble increasing conversions and reducing the cost per conversion. As I did my initial audit of the account I found that many of the campaigns were targeting anywhere from 3-8 different countries. We were lumping our budgets, bids, keyword optimization analysis and ad copy together across user bases that could be wildly different.
Users in the UK are likely to respond to a different combination of keywords and ad copy than users in the US. Furthermore, the competition is likely vastly different across the two countries. Sandals might be an extremely competitive field in the United States and necessitate very high bids. In the UK, there might be only a few companies bidding on Sandal terms. In this situation you would have one of two options if you were targeting both the UK and US in the same campaign. One would be to set your bids and budgets based on US performance. The inevitable result of this strategy would be overspending in the UK market. Similarly, if you optimized towards performance in the UK you would be missing out on the majority of traffic from the highly competitive US market. Clearly, the best course of action is to break out campaigns by country.
With our new client I did end up breaking out campaigns by target country and the results were almost immediate. We found that many keywords that had previously looked like they were underperforming were actually performing quite well in smaller markets. This allowed us to tailor our bids and budgets accordingly. After the initial breakout and a few rounds of optimization based on this new structure we were able to increase conversions by 15% and reduce the cost per conversion by a similar 15%.
A best practice is to never target more than one country per campaign. The audiences, competition and performance vary too much across nations to justify lumping them together. Obviously, this line of optimization could go much further. Campaigns can be broken out by State/Province, Metro Area, City or even zip code. You will need to take into consideration the reach of the business and, as with all of the various segmentation options, your bandwidth as an account manager. It may not make sense for a major international retailer to have separate campaigns for every state/province they do business in. But an Auto Insurance company that does business in only a handful of states would likely benefit from this level of segmentation.
In my next post, I will cover Device Targeting, Marketing Medium (search or display) and Distribution Network. What are some of your favorite ways to segment your PPC Accounts?