I’ve been having quite a few conversations recently on the value of PPC results that fail to hit targets from day one. To begin, let’s be clear, not all paid search campaigns get fantastic results from day one. Approaching paid search assuming it’s simply a tap that you turn on and then sit back and watch your bank balance grow is not what it’s all about. If it were everyone would be doing it, making lots of money and the Bahamas would be a very crowded place indeed. However the information around PPC user behaviour, even on accounts that do not have exceptional results, can still have value.
Visit the store via PPC
The best PPC accounts will guarantee to get you the traffic you asked for, traffic that has been identified as being relevant, interested in your product or service and therefore more likely to convert. This is the reason you’ll pay for good account setup and management. So the role of PPC is to deliver this traffic…and that’s it? The answer is of course, yes and no. The primary function of PPC is to deliver the traffic. PPC takes customers to the store door, makes sure they step over the threshold, and then repeats the process over again. What happens next is almost entirely reliant on how well your website works, and that is the key to success no matter what traffic source you are talking about.
Many agencies and PPC account managers will see that journey to the store door as their remit. They’ll take credit for impressions, clicks, click through rates and market share. They’ll also take credit for the conversions, enquiries, leads and profit margin if those figures are positive, but if those figures are bad then they’ll turn around and say the problem lies with your website…and they’d be right, but not very helpful.
A good agency, with account managers who know how to read and interpret the information that a PPC campaign can generate will go that one step further. They’ll still tell you that what the customer does in your store is not down to them but what they will do is tell you exactly what is going on in your store based on the behaviour of the PPC traffic they have generated. It’s akin to taking the customer to the shop then waiting for them to come back out and asking them about the experience they had in the store. And that information will not only be relevant to paid traffic it will apply to all traffic sources.
It’s at this point that PPC starts a ripple effect that then presents you with a clear picture regarding where your investment should be. Maybe money spent now on Conversion Rate Optimisation is a better business decision than putting all your eggs into the PPC or SEO baskets.
Armed with this information you can then start to optimise your site to suit the needs of your customers. These types of reports, which can be generated via a PPC campaign that has delivered a healthy amount of traffic, should then be able to shed light on key behavioural points.
When people visit your site do they stay there?
A high bounce rate will indicate that people don’t like what they are presented with when they land on your site. You can measure this page by page with PPC as well by testing different landing pages for the same ads and keywords. The PPC traffic should be exactly the right kind of traffic because your keyword lists are as relevant as they can be. So you can’t hide behind the excuse of poorly performing PPC campaigns, the fact is that your content is the problem.
How long do people stay on the site?
For people to engage with your website you need good content, which can be summed up in three words, relevant, varied and interesting. If you get this right you’ll find that people are on your site for minutes rather than seconds and they’ll visit 6-8 pages rather than just 2. It’s important that this is tailored to the audience you are targeting so 4 pages may be a good metric or, if you have a large variety of similar products you might consider 12 pages to be a target to achieve.
Where, and why, do people leave your site?
If the page that most people leave your site from is the one that is shown after a sale occurs then you’re doing things right, if it’s not then you have some interesting questions to ask. Is the most exited page a product page? Is it in the checkout funnel? Is it the post and packing page? By looking at this area you’ll be able to see why people are turning away from what you have to offer, and more importantly you’ll be able to do something about it. Are your P&P cost too high? Is it clear how to buy the product? When will I get it?
Often people shy away from this because they think that the solution to these types of design problems is time consuming, invasive and expensive, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Conversion Rate Optimisation is a non invasive, cost effective way of solving these problems and, when done correctly, pays for itself in no time at all.
Of course the ultimate metric will be money in the bank. There’s no reason why a PPC campaign that doesn’t start well can, in a short space of time, not only make money for you but also play a major part in how you build and maintain your website and influence the behaviour of your visitors, regardless what source that traffic comes from.
*I Came, I Saw, I Didn’t Stay Very Long