Up Your PPC Performance By Focusing On User Experience

Focus On Your Website And Your PPC Performance Will Improve

By Matt Umbro

One of the most underrated facets of a great performing ecommerce PPC campaign is the user experience of the associated website. The better the user experience, the easier it will be for consumers to convert post PPC ad click. An exceptional experience also makes PPC campaign creation and optimization easier and more efficient.

To prove this statement let’s pretend we are creating a new PPC account from scratch. Being that it’s NFL playoff season, let’s look at the New England Patriots section (my favorite team) of the NFL Shop.

We now have to determine how to form our campaigns. Luckily, the site has given us a good start. Let’s look at the left hand navigation.

The way the categories are broken out is also the way we can group our campaigns. Let’s say we create a campaign around jackets. Our new campaign will be titled “Patriots Jackets.” When we go to this page we again look to the left hand navigation for our potential ad groups.

We now have three ad groups around:

  • Men’s Patriots Jackets
  • Women’s Patriots Jackets
  • Kids Patriots Jackets

Furthermore, we have a fourth ad group around non-gender searches, “Patriots Jackets.” This ad group will lead to the Patriots jackets page and include general terms such as “Patriots jackets” and “buy Patriots jackets.” Within this general ad group we’re going to add “men,” “women,” and “kids” as negative keywords so we ensure that the right query triggers the correct ad. For example, we don’t want a search for “men’s Patriots jackets” potentially triggering our ad from the general “Patriots Jackets” ad group.

All of these ad groups also have their own unique URL. For example, the women’s Patriots jackets page is:

http://www.nflshop.com/New_England_Patriots_Women_Jackets

When creating granular ad groups, appropriate landing pages don’t always exist. Thus, advertisers may send traffic to a site search results page. The problem is that site search URLs don’t always produce the most aesthetically pleasing pages and may not always showcase the right products. Given the opportunity, I will always send traffic to a non-site search URL.

Now that we have our ad groups we can see how the site filtering options help us. When we view the women’s jackets page we have additional options for segmentation.

Once the searcher lands on the women’s jackets page, that person can view the complete selection or view by size, price range, and shipping. Additionally, if we want to create further ad groups around these options we can because each has a unique URL.

Inevitably, we’ll also be bidding on product specific keywords. Being that I want a jersey for a lesser-known player (but still great), I do a search for “men’s Rob Ninkovich blue jersey.” Here’s the page that I see when clicking the ad.

Right away I know I’m on the right page as both the headline and the jersey name in the image references “Ninkovich.” Among the additional features that help my experience and improve credibility include:

  • The “zoom in” feature so I can see the jersey in more detail
  • The reviews that allow me to see what my peers think of the jersey
  • A size chart indicating the best fit
  • An “Add To Cart” button that stands out

Based upon the overall user experience, I’m much more confident in my account setup and ability to convert users once they are on the site.

Account Management

Optimizing accounts is easier to do when campaigns and ad groups are appropriately segmented. Think of optimization in the same vain as you would organizing your own files. Instead of throwing insurance, healthcare, loan information, etc. into one pile, it’s much easier to review when each has it’s own folder. The same principle applies in PPC. Here are a few ways that organization helps optimization.

Fewer Negative Keywords

I’ve found that the further segmented my ad groups, the less poorly the search queries are. In fact, many of the queries that I do end up adding as negative keywords aren’t necessarily bad searches, but they just have seen too many clicks without converting. Utilizing the “men’s Patriots jacket” example, I would expect that all of my queries have some variation of the ad group name. Non-converting queries I may potentially pause would include terms like “men’s super bowl Patriots jacket” or “lightweight men’s Patriots jacket.” Again, not totally irrelevant searches, but they just didn’t resonate with my audience.

Better Click-Thru-Rates (CTRs)

A core component of PPC is relevance. The goal is to have a continuous theme from search query to matched keyword to ad copy and finally to landing page. When queries closely match (or are) the keyword and align with the ad copy, CTR should increase. Therefore, our segmentation and relevance throughout the process is rewarded.

More Engaged Remarketing Lists

No matter how relevant your account, non-converting traffic will still come to the site. That’s why it’s important to have a remarketing strategy in place. With ecommerce accounts I make sure I have Dynamic Remarketing setup so visitors can see the products they viewed. Here’s a remarketing ad for the Rob Ninkovich jersey.

So why does it matter that the account is more relevant if visitors leave anyway? It matters because those visitors will see meaningful remarketing ads. If we know that searchers are typing the right queries and our CTRs our higher, we can conjecture that our site and associated products are relevant to the visitors. In turn, these remarketing ads are more likely to resonate with these past visitors because the site was of value, even if they didn’t convert the first time.

Conclusion

When reviewing paid search performance, the website user experience has to be a key discussion point. It makes a huge difference and cannot be taken lightly. I’ve even turned down clients during the sales phase if the website experience was significantly hindering conversion rate. No matter how great a PPC account setup is, it will fail if the website isn’t pulling its weight. The better the website structure and ease of use, the more relevant your PPC campaigns will be.

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Comments
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5
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Josh R.
January 24, 2015 1:56 PM
Thanks for the good stuff. I guess it all comes down, one way or another is lowering the purchase threshold. I have been doing a lot of refining of a site to eliminate extra clicks and in creating a stronger message hierarchy on each page. I appreciate your tips. After all, why buy clicks and then give web visitors a poor experience? It's like spending a zillion dollars on advertising a brick and mortar retail outlet and then hiding your merchandise in the back room and/or providing little or no customer service.
Craig Bickford
January 25, 2015 7:21 PM
I think many people tend to overlook putting in the effort into their website and expect miracles from their PPC efforts. You need to put your best face forward before you start your PPC marketing. Great tips!
AnnAbbitz
January 25, 2015 7:24 PM
I 100% agree with Josh above. It all boils down to supplying the customer with a great experience. Content management is always a useful tip when dealing with online business. If you put together a quality site, the visitor will be much more likely to become a buyer. However, when they land on a poorly executed & neglected site, visitors will quickly add to your bounce rate. Also, great tip on allowing your site & your products to organically guide your PPC campaigns. This can only help to improve your PPC performance in the long run.
Geanie Kehr Roake
January 26, 2015 3:43 PM
Nothing stops me from purchasing a product faster than a website that doesn't work. Not only should it be up and in working order, but also smooth and easy to navigate or I'm done with it. When a site works well, I feel good about being so tech savvy and maybe even a little bit smart. I am also more likely to purchase other things, and will certainly come back. Making your website as user friendly as possible is key to attracting and keeping customers.
Alex London
January 26, 2015 5:41 PM
It's taken me a lot of tweaking and redesigning to get my website to a standard I'm happy with. It's still not 100% there but I'm limited by my own technical knowledge. My main goal is to guide visitors as easily as possible straight to my store and then my checkout page.

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