Live from Internet Retailer: Breathing New Life into Old PPC Campaigns

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jun 14, 2011
More Articles by Janet

wine_com_logoThe next session, Breathing New Life Into Old PPC Campaigns, featured Cam Fortin of and Michael Mothner of Wpromote. Cam indicated that paid search generates 50% of their new customers. Michael and Cam presented a combined presentation.

Michael started off by sharing the problem many retailers face — how can you get more out of your PPC campaigns you may have been running for a while?  

Expand Display Networks

Michael said that display reaches customers at a different phase in the decision-making process. He encouraged the audience to experiment with text and image ads. The important thing is that the way you’re finding these folks is not on a search engine. Use Google’s Placement Tool to pick sites to target as well, and then use a placement report to expand and exclude sites. Looking at the placement report, you can remove the “losers” and add the “winners” to your placement targeting based on how well each site is performing for you.

Cam said that they also utilize remarketing. It’s a great way to contact those that have visited your site after they leave and go to other sites. He stressed that it was helpful in getting visitors back to your website later.

Michael added that the settings in Google for remarketing allow you to stop remarketing once a user has converted as well.

New Ad Formats and Beta Tests

Michael stressed that new beta tests are one good reason to work with an agency that might be tapped into new tests with Google.

Cam focused on sitelink extensions, where the user can see links under the ad that are a bit more targeted and can help ad respondents get deeper to the actual product they want faster. Cam says their CTR has gone up because of sitelinks. He recommends that you pick your sitelinks yourself — don’t automate it.

Michael added that you cannot control when sitelink extensions show up. They generally show up under brand searches [Editor note: they show up when the ad is above the organic listings AND when the quality score is at least 7/10].

Offer ads are being tested now as well. They are generally used for brick and mortar stores with printable coupons from the ad.

Cam added that the longer headline option increases CTR. So when you write your ads, keep the longer headline in mind — they can see almost a double in CTR with the longer headline. You also do not control when these show. They’ve also been using Google Call Tracking, which ads a Google Voice phone number to your ad and redirects to your phone number.

Mobile Ads and Compatibility

Michael said that mobile is often ignored by ecommerce retailers, but it deserves attention. Cam added that you should consider splitting out your campaigns by device, such as by iPad vs. Desktop. Michael added that you should definitely target different devices, and beyond optimizing campaigns for different devices, you may learn about how people use different devices. Do they browse on the iPad and buy on the desktop?

Cam said they had been bidding down on the weekends, but iPads were used more on evenings and weekends, so splitting out campaigns helps them schedule and bid appropriately. You can also target by carrier.

Be sure to optimize your website for the mobile experience. Make it easier for visitors to convert on mobile.

Don’t Forget About Bing and Yahoo!

There is significant opportunity for clicks at a lower cost on Bing, and possibly a lower cost per conversion. But campaign performance will vary — Cam said that Google still performs better for

Track and Segment New vs. Repeat Customers

Cam looked at different incremental value of each customer type. If you can understand the lifetime value of a customer, you want to spend more on new customers than existing ones, because the new customers will generate greater value over time.

To make this work, you need to track leads through the entire sales process. Michael walked through the process of dropping keyword data into the backend CRM system. Take the data as far as you can.

Brand vs. Non-Brand Keywords

Michael stressed that you really need to segment out the brand vs. non-brand sales to understand the sales data.  He gave an example where the CPA for a brand keyword is $1 and non-brand is $20, so the average would be $10. But that’s not a true measurement. Ultimately, you have to consider the cost to acquire new customers to get them to be brand searchers in the future. It might be ugly, but it’s truth! You have to face it to understand the true cost of acquiring repeat customers in the future and creating brand-search customers of the future.

Promo Codes and Localization

Cam said this can be a helpful way to improve conversion. Put the promo code into the text of the ad and on the landing page. It confirms a promotion for the ad respondent.

Cam also stressed tracking by states. In their case, they can’t ship to every state, but they also look at which state perform best for them. So they use the localization by campaign, even for national campaigns. You can also personalize the ads more.

Keywords in Display URL

Michael encouraged to try adding keywords that didn’t fit in the ad. For example, with, they had a display url as “”, allowing them to get more terms into the ad that didn’t fit in the copy.

Deadlines and Seasonality

Michael finds that you should include a sense of urgency, whether you are seasonal or not. You can have a June special, even if there’s nothing that changes after June.

Negative Keywords

Michael said you have to look at individual keywords on a scale and break them out by winners and losers. He showed the keyword report where you can analyze individual keyword performance and remove losers and add winners.

Don’t Judge Your Data Too Early

Michael stressed that you can’t judge your data too early, because conversions can happen long after an initial search. You can use Google’s report to see on average how long conversions take for your campaign, and if you only judge data from day 1, you aren’t seeing all of the potential conversions that haven’t been realized yet.

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