Success Story: 4 Basics for Improving Efficiency in Paid Search

Tyler Nall | Jul 02, 2015

While paid search may be one of the most efficient paid media tactics for capturing purchase intent, tracking results in the most illuminating way can be difficult. Reliable insights that might drive future decisions can be elusive.

So, how do you know you’re getting the most out of your paid search campaign? Here are four basic techniques you can use to monitor activity, adapt to your findings and drive results.

1.  Optimize for conversions, not just clicks
By linking your paid search and analytics platforms, you will be able to determine whether or not users are converting from specific campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords.

Data should show where users are more likely to convert when specific ad creative is paired with certain keywords and phrases. And although thousands of keywords are typically identified in a campaign, only a very small number drive significant returns for the brand. You should allocate additional dollars to those keywords and back away from, or remove, those that aren’t performing.

2.  Geotarget
If you have products that are available at select retail stores throughout the country, the drive from an audience member’s home to the store could be prohibitively long in some markets. As a result, ads that are being shown to users who are highly unlikely to convert in-store, even if they clicked to view the website, are a waste of marketing spend.

That’s where geotargeting comes into play. Generate a ZIP code list of the locations where your audience members are likely to live and overlay that information onto the paid search account. Now, the ads are served only to people living near a retail store.

3.  Test low-impression keywords with new campaigns
Each paid search campaign has its own budget, ads and keywords. Within each campaign are a number of ad groups, which are simply logical groupings of ads and keywords. If you’re selling shoes, you might have something like this:

Each ad group houses keywords and ads relevant to the particular subject matter. This ensures that users will be delivered an ad that’s relevant to their specific search query.

But, there’s a problem. If the auto-optimization function recognizes certain keywords that perform well early on in the campaign, it may never bid against huge numbers of other keywords. Several of those keywords could have the potential to drive conversions but have never been given the chance.

Since budget is allocated at the campaign level, not the ad group level, you need to pull those underserved keywords out and put them into their own, new campaign. Allocate a modest budget here to test the water and see if performance goes up. This approach let’s you test and learn without breaking the bank.

4.  Zero in on key dayparts
Are people more engaged at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week? If you’re running a B2B operation, you might find that users are far more active and likely to convert during business hours, which suggests that you allocate additional funds here and limit activity overnight and on weekends. It’s a simple analysis that enables you to allocate funds so that you can capitalize on time- or day-related search volume.

Do these techniques actually work in practice? Our recent work with a client in the consumer retail space says “yes.” In this case, we were tasked with revitalizing and managing a paid search campaign that had been running for about three years. Our job was to keep the campaign live and make optimization enhancements as we grew more familiar with the brand. With no change in spend, here are the results we posted in the first month:

  • 25% increase in clicks (compared to same time period in 2014)
  • 29% decrease in cost-per-click
  • 43% increase in on-site conversions (compared to same time period in 2014)
  • 37% decrease in cost-per-conversion
  • Highest click-through-rate month ever for the account
  • Third lowest cost-per-conversion for the account

Best of all, this level of performance has continued month-over-month. Put simply, this client’s campaign—and their budget—has become significantly more efficient.

The big idea is simple: Don’t waste money by not getting the most out of your campaign. If you’re interested in learning how Blue Flame Thinking can help you just like we’ve helped many others, drop us a line today. Contact Tyler Nall at 312-327-5132 or

Tyler Nall

Tyler combines innovative strategy with the latest delivery platforms to craft customized media campaigns with proven success.

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