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10% of Survey Respondents Indicate Improving ROI is Their Biggest Challenge

Paid search marketing is one of the few channels that provides the tools necessary for tracking performance through all three stages of your sales funnel. Return on investment is the ultimate benchmark that unlocks the secrets of optimizing budget and investing wisely to be sure you create the best chance of success. Once you are tracking your ROI, improving it isn’t has difficult as you may thing.

However, how you structure your campaigns and track ROI can create problems. Many marketers have the bad habit of believing Google when they tell you to use multiple ad groups per campaign. They make a compelling case. But the reality is you are required to budget at the campaign level, not the ad group. If you want to apply more budget to a keyword grouping that is performing well, you must break them out into their own ad campaign. In most cases, I set up programs to contain only one ad group per to improve my ability to apply more budget to the winners, and less to campaigns that need improvement.

Another issue I see frequently is incorrect or incomplete setup of CRM and sales software systems that prevent the ability to access the data and reports you need to identify ROI at the campaign level, or even keyword level. If you have various stages in your sales process like leads, opportunities and deals you’ll need to view that data by each of these stages, by campaign. Once you’ve unlocked this information the data will tell you where you can apply more budget to generate more return on investment, or where new opportunities might be uncovered.

In addition, improving understanding of the buyer’s journey and where to target your prospects is also a key in improving many aspects of your campaigns to increase your ROI. Targeting prospects at the moment they are in-market-now will boost your return on investment.


“The best campaigns don’t always generate the lowest cost per lead or sale. Return on investment is the ultimate metric to gauge the success your campaigns.”



If this isn’t a phrase you are familiar with, or one you use daily when targeting your marketing efforts, I recommend you learn it and live it in short order. Why? Because your prospect base may be large, but your in-market-now prospect base is what will drive your conversions and profitability today.

To help define exactly what I mean, let’s review a concept that should be at the core of every marketing effort you undertake.


The Buyers Journey

The beauty of paid search marketing is that it is what I call “Intent Marketing” and not demographic marketing. On a platform like Facebook we can target someone that looks like they fit our definition of a prospect. The problem is we have no idea if they actually are a prospect and have no indication of if, or when, they will be in-market for our product or service.

With intent marketing we cannot single out those that fit our profile of a prospect, but we can target prospects that are in-market-now based off the language they use in their search.

One of the biggest mistakes I see paid search marketers make is the keywords and match types they use are targeting prospects in the wrong spot in the buyer’s journey, or the wrong prospects altogether.

Let’s re-familiarize ourselves with the buyer’s journey, laid out here in graphical form. (image credit to Hubspot)



Ask yourself, what is the difference between someone searching for ‘cleaning carpets’ versus ‘carpet cleaning company’? I would argue the first is looking for some self help, and the second is looking for a service provider.

What about someone searching for ‘Microsoft SharePoint’ versus ‘Microsoft SharePoint services’? The former is in the awareness stage of researching a potential solution or general information, and the latter indicates a  prospect looking for outside help.

In order to get in front of in-market-now prospects you need to be targeting your keywords between the consideration and decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Only when you have exhausted all keywords in this stage do you move back between the awareness and consideration stage for an incremental lift.


Cost Per Conversion Matters

More in-market-now conversions are critical to generating a positive ROI but so too is your cost per conversion. It won’t matter how many conversions you generate if your overall campaign performance is so poor that it costs you too much for each conversion you generate. Targeting the search phrases with the proper intent is step one, using match types and bid strategies wisely is another.

In most cases the more restrictive your match type the more relevant the searches Google will match you up with. In practical terms this means staying away from broad match as much as possible. Any broad match keywords used must prove they are a valuable contributor, to the point that I often isolate them in a separate campaign for better tracking.

Exact match, phrase match and modified broad match are the search types that should bring the best results. Be sure to continuously monitor what Google is matching them up with and adjust as necessary to be sure you have the best performing mix of match types in your campaign.

Using these strategies will help you get in front of the prospects that show the proper intent, and limit your wasted spend by Google matching your targeted terms up too loosely. The net result is more conversions at a lower cost per conversion, and that is a great foundation for success.


Bid Types Matter

Depending on how specific, and how far into the buyer’s journey your keywords are has a direct impact on the ability to maximize your budget. Luckily Google provides a variety of bid types to help us get the biggest bang for our buck.

While I prefer manual bids to see if we can compete in the top three search results there are times when the keywords are just general enough and have a high enough level of cost and competition that the numbers just don’t work.

In these cases it is important to test other bid types like automated bids, enhanced CPC and others to see if you can bring your cost per conversion and cost per sale in line with what you need to generate that all important positive return on investment.


Keep Testing Your Landing Pages

The final tip we’ll give you to help you optimize your budget had to do with your landing pages. The better you convert visiting prospects the more opportunities you have to close a sale.

Never, and I mean never, sit back and ride with one version of your landing page. Prospects at certain stages of the buyer’s journey respond to different information, layouts and sales strategies. Consistent testing will lead to improved results. Make this part of your ongoing routine and you will see improvements in your conversion rates.


Where Do I Go From Here?

What we’ve covered here is the just the tip of the iceberg. If you are looking for more detailed strategies for increasing your improving your return on investment consider purchasing our affordable advanced guides. Each is chock full of the tips, tricks and strategies we employ to build successful programs for clients all over the country. Take the lessons we’ve learned and put them into practice to bring your paid search marketing program to the next level.

Think you might need more help? Why not reach out for a consultation with our resident paid search marketing consultants so we can review your specific needs and challenges and provide the solutions you need to move forward.

It is possible to solve your ROI improvement issues, and we are happy to help any way we can.

As a onetime special, we are offering you 25% off of any of our advanced guides if you make your purchase in the next 5 days. Simply use coupon code DIAGNOSTIC25 during checkout.

Solving your ROI improvement issue should be your biggest priority and I hope we’ve helped set you on a path to success.



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