Discussing PPC at the SASCon

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On May 17, Amy Bott, ClickThrough’s director of paid search, attended SASCon at The Hive in Manchester. Amy attended the inaugural conference two years ago, as part of her commitment to staying ahead of the latest developments in the PPC industry. SASCon involved a lot of expert discussion on hot issues: here, Amy gives her opinion on the future of PPC.

Running a Paid Search Campaign in Europe

What the SASCon experts say:

• International Search isn’t just about pure translation. It’s all about understanding the culture, local behaviours and local dialects of an international audience. It’s especially important not to cut corners and simply apply literal translations.

• Carry out forecasts into the impact of the correct translation and localisation onto your site traffic and conversion. This will help to justify the initial costs.

• Consider the associations of branding and product colours in different countries. For instance, orange in Holland is positive, but may not prove so joyful in Northern Ireland due to political and religious history.

• Research new markets and understand if there is demand for your product in that region. A big toothpaste brand rolled out a new product in Asia. The product flopped in certain areas and they were unsure why. They later found out that this was due to black teeth being a positive feature in certain parts of southeast Asia. Keyword research could have helped with this, as there is low search volume for ‘White teeth’ in these areas.

• Review the preferred payment methods in the countries you are looking to expand into. In Russia they may use ‘Yandex money’ and in Germany they may prefer invoicing as a payment method, particularly for B2B transactions.  If your payment options don’t cater for all countries you target, you are likely to receive very poor levels of conversion.

My Thoughts

This session helped to reinforce my belief that planning is key to a successful European paid search campaign.
Incorrect translations can be a real embarrassment and can also lead to a poor user experience. It’s not just about simply duplicating your English accounts. Research your keywords and write your creative from scratch.

Even taking UK PPC creative and applying it to a US account may not work due to slightly different vocabulary, spelling and tone – words like cheap simply don’t translate.

Educating yourself on these factors can be the difference between success and failure. I would advise that all people responsible for online work together on an end to end solution. It’s clear that the website build is key to the foundations of a successful search campaign, as it is in any country.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the session is the need to split out your PPC accounts to have them targeting countries separately: this gives you greater control on the optimisation of your account and your budget.

The more countries you target by a single campaign, the less likely it is to run efficiently.

Advanced PPC Techniques - Quality Score

What the SASCon experts say:

• Prioritise your quality score (QS) reviews by keywords with high impression levels; don’t necessarily just look at the number of keywords with each level of quality score. You could have just a handful of keywords with a quality score of 3, but they could be driving 30% of your total impressions.

• Don’t necessarily aim for a certain QS number. QS is relative to your competitors, so it’s not realistic to aim to have all keywords scoring 10. The main thing is to aim for a high number of keywords and impressions being above a score of 7.

• Never underestimate the power of your landing pages. It’s too easy to consider your PPC account in isolation. It’s these differences that really help small business compete with huge advertisers. PPC landing pages should be approached in a similar way to best practice SEO. A number of quality score metrics mirror the factors considered in SEO such as load page time, relevance and keyword density.

My Thoughts

This seminar really highlighted the importance of considering quality score as part of your PPC optimisation. Too often, people can shift their entire focus to CPC changes alone. If you can invest time into improving your quality score, you can see some great improvements in your long term cost control and online revenue.

I would always recommend carrying out a full audit of your account every six months. This should involve reviewing your account structure and looking to pause keywords with high impressions and low QS. You may also be able to identify trends in the quality score of your keywords which could help you identify which landing pages require the most development.

One area that wasn’t touched on during the discussion was the role of adtext. CTR is an extremely important factor in determining your quality score. Ensuring you are reviewing the competitor landscape to differentiate your ads is vital. Sitelinks are also a great method at improving your CTR.

Mobile Search

What the SASCon experts say:

• Mobile and tablet searchers are in a different mindset to desktop searchers. Mobile users are on the move, with tablet searchers using their device as a second screen for comparison shopping.

• Overall rises in mobile search volumes are always seen following the release of new phones and tablets. There was a sharp increase particularly following the launch of the iPhone 4S.

• Tablets now reach a wider demographic with cheaper tablets now available in the marketplace

• AOV is 80% higher on tablet than desktop, and 20% higher on mobile.

• Adjust ad scheduling to make the most of key traffic peaks. Peaks in mobile traffic occur around commuter times and tablet use increases in the evening.

• It is estimated that there will be as many mobile searches as desktop by the end of 2013.

• During the snow, tablet searches overtook mobile. This is staggering considering that the number of tablet devices in the UK is 10% that of mobile. Increases in mobile search traffic coincide with good weather as more people are likely to be on the move.

• The separation between offline and online will become increasingly blurry as mobile becomes more of a payment device with Near Field Communication (NFC). We will really start to see this being pushed during the Olympics.  This is going to drive the importance of understanding your full multi-channel attribution.

My Thoughts

It’s clear from these facts that it’s important to make the most of the mobile opportunity sooner rather than later. With CPCs averaging at 40% cheaper than standard desktop search, it is a great way of driving incremental traffic and revenue without significantly increasing your overall click costs.

PPC managers must also consider that mobile PPC ads should aim for positions 1 or 2 only, as visibility sees a sharp decrease below these positions due to the Google format in mobile. To see ads in position 3 or 4 requires the user to scroll right down the bottom of the page – which feels slightly self-defeating if you’re paying for the ad.

There is a challenge with brands to develop a fully optimised mobile website.

At ClickThrough Marketing, we would recommend that brands create a limited number of mobile-optimised landing pages as a short term fix. This could just include contact details for the brand, or a call back form.

Google’s click to call ad extension in mobile is also a great tip. You can display your ad within mobile browsers, but you don’t need to have a mobile optimised site at all. You can capture those users through phone calls instead without investing in mobile development.

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