2 Key Questions That Determine Whether You’re Making the Most of Your PPC Ads

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Author: Raymond Coppinger

This year, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform Google Adwords celebrated its 15th birthday. While PPC ads can sometimes feel like the elder statesman of digital advertising, it’s still in its prime and its birthday serves as a good reminder of how much potential there is for all the digital channels that marketers want to master.

Since the arrival of Google Adwords, the digital advertising landscape has evolved in almost every way: more channels, more technologies, and more data. The PPC corner of that landscape has changed with it and marketers today have a much greater set of capabilities when running PPC compared to the early 2000s. Yet through all this change, the keyword auction remains at the heart of PPC, billions of which take place every month.

Like email marketing, search marketing remains a critical channel for many marketers and, if Google’s advertising revenue growth is anything indicator, it will remain so for quite a while. As a B2B marketer who wears the web/digital/online hat, PPC is a channel that I have been heavily involved in throughout my career. Across all my experiences with PPC activity, I’ve found that answering these two key questions has served as a foundation for delivering real growth and return:

Do you have an easy-to-measure indicator of the health of your PPC investment?

Like most digital advertising channels, PPC is metric-rich. There are so many ways to assess performance, from conversions to click-through-rate to quality score. In the B2B world where PPC is more often than not a lead generation channel, bridging the gap between PPC specific metrics (such as conversions or quality score) and the revenue performance of your PPC activity is critical. It is very possible to have a situation where you are seeing significant improvements in your PPC metrics, but the revenue performance remains flat. This makes it even more important to have a way to measure the revenue impact.

One possible metric is a simple yet powerful equation we use here at Marketo. We look at the ratio between the opportunity pipeline created by the PPC channel (first-touch or multi-touch) and the investment in PPC; we call this ratio ‘pipeline to spend’. There are a number of factors that determine what a healthy ratio is depending on your business. For example, based on your opportunity close rate, you may aim for a pipeline to spend ratio of 13:1, which means that for every $ 1 you invest in PPC, you aim to generate $ 13 in pipeline.

pipeline to spend

Pipeline to spend can be used to track the revenue impact of any marketing program and is a fantastic way of determining marketing efficiency. By focusing on pipeline as opposed to closed revenue, you can understand how well marketing is serving your sales organization with the right marketing qualified leads. If you were to look at closed revenue instead, then it would factor in the efficiency of your sales organization at closing opportunities.

Are you allocating your PPC spend based on the right data?

The pipeline to spend ratio is a great measurement of your overall PPC investment, but getting more granular and understanding what campaigns or ad groups are driving the pipeline enables more effective budget allocation. Take the following example, in which Ad Group 1 has a higher cost per conversion but generates 3x the amount of pipeline as Ad Group 2. In this scenario, the marketer might look to increase investment in Ad Group 1, if there is volume available.

ad groups

By tracking revenue performance down to the ad group and even keyword, you can prioritize where budget should flow. Below is an example of how you could categorize and then prioritize your ad groups in terms of budget. This simple categorization is a very easy way to ensure that budget gets to the most revenue-impactful areas first.

  • Priority 1: Ad groups that have historically generated significant pipeline.
  • Priority 2: Ad groups that have not necessarily generated significant pipeline, but are important from a brand, product, or industry perspective.
  • Priority 3: Ad groups that have not generated significant pipeline and are not critical from a brand, product, or industry perspective.

PPC is a channel that has plenty of measurement options and requires continuous optimization and analysis. Put another way, PPC requires a lot of hard work on an ongoing basis; it is a journey that never ends. By knowing that the return on your PPC investment is healthy and having a mechanism for allocating budget to the right places; you can empower yourself with the knowledge you need to drive on with optimization and find ways to improve your return.

Do you agree that these questions are important? Are there other key questions you ask yourself about your own PPC? I would love to hear them –please feel free to comment below!

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2 Key Questions That Determine Whether You’re Making the Most of Your PPC Ads was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

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Three Questions to Help You Decide Whether to Start Using Vine

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Consumers’ attention spans are shorter than ever. YouTube marketing guidelines used to be 30 seconds—now we’re lucky to sit through 10 seconds. The evolution of marketing has accelerated because of the Millennial Generation and the introduction of mobile and social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Vine, the popular mobile phone app that plays 6-second videos.

Brands have capitalized on video marketing to this fully-connected generation through social media. But why is Vine different?

Vine appeals to the “snackable moments” aspect of today’s digital lifestyle and gives consumers a 6-second snapshot of a brand. They might be amused, they might roll their eyes, or they might be intrigued and want to know more, but the Vine video is a tiny time-cost to the consumers that they give freely to brands.

Marketers have a unique, though brief, opportunity to catch the moment and connect with an individual, yet they must understand the best way to distill the brand experience or offer to a customer in 6 seconds. It’s a challenging creative exercise for marketers but ultimately, it all comes back to how Vine fits with a brand.

But don’t try Vine “just because.” You don’t want to be a cautionary tale on “Vines Gone Bad” for other marketers.

That being said, Vine can also be a tremendous marketing tool if the fit conditions are met. John Mowat at Adweek included some of these considerations for Vine. He argues Vine is a brand tool, not a hard sell, and I’d agree, but he also notes that successful Vines are geared towards the brand community.

Here are a few questions every marketer should ask in deciding whether to market through Vine.

1. How does Vine play into my cohesive digital strategy?

The consensus in advertising that mobile video is the future is still under question by some.

Moreover, mobile video can run in apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube, or be bought through ad networks that serve the mobile Web. There are the 6-second snippets housed on platforms like Vine; 15-second and 30-second formats, mostly seen on YouTube; and animated GIFs. This fragmented landscape is creating uncertainty at an otherwise perfect timing for mobile video.

This fragmentation must be avoided if you want to gain the most success from mobile advertisements.

The worst thing you could do would be to spin up another disconnected silo, so Vine should be considered against the totality of hat you’re doing digitally. Vines should be deployed strategically from the brand perspective and created to augment all other pieces of the marketing mix. Done well, Vine will help everything flourish.

So, make sure it complements what you’re doing and make it more of a pay-off to an existing campaign versus something totally out of the blue.

2. Does Vine fit with my brand?

Mobile video is among the fastest growing segments in digital advertising, attracting $ 2.6 billion in the US this year, an increase of 70% since last year. But that figure still only represents about 10% of all mobile advertising.

There is a great window of opportunity to seize the moment with Vine. A recent study estimated that more than 105 million US smartphone users will watch video at least once a month on such devices in 2015—a golden opportunity to engage and connect with the consumer.

Vine isn’t for everyone nor a natural fit for every brand, so thought must be given to what Vine users expect, how that pays out your brand, and how you can execute creatively against it. Use analytics on all your customer data to gauge how an individual recipient will react to the six-second brand push. Is it welcomed or annoying? Intrusive or exciting? This data is crucial to success.

3. Who is my target audience?

On the surface, Vine might feel like a Millennial’s tool or toy, something that lends itself more toward leisure and fun for a younger generation (although Centennials are right on their tails), but not a serious business marketing tool.

Then again, people said the same thing about Twitter when it first came out. Now video is the flavor of the week; watching is easier than reading, especially when consumers are using their mobile devices.

* * *

Be smart when you decide whether to use Vine. Don’t use it in isolation. When done right, Vine has all the potential to beautifully complement the rest of your brand’s digital marketing mix.