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How To Identify and Fix Performance Issues in Your SEM Campaigns

How To Identify and Fix Performance Issues in Your SEM Campaigns  
One of the most common criticisms I hear about search engine marketing is that it does not deliver a good return on investment (ROI). Check out SEM myths debunked to learn more about why this isn’t true. From my experience, campaigns that experience poor ROI usually suffer from one or more of the following issues:
  • Poor structure/configuration
  • Conversion leaks
  • Lack of optimisation
In this post, I will briefly outline each of these issues, how to solve them and how they can increase your ROI.

Poor structure or configuration
The structure and configuration settings of your SEM campaign have a huge impact on your performance and ROI. Structure refers to how your campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords are laid out in your campaign. Configuration means the settings, targeting and other options that you have set for your campaigns and ad groups.

While Google AdWords and Bing Ads best practices are a good place to start, your configuration and structure should be based on your strategy. In one of my favourite examples, Snickers created an AdWords campaign around misspelt words. Including misspellings is discouraged in AdWords best practices but suited the purpose of the campaign and worked well for the brand.

There are so many settings and possible structural changes you can make to your search engine marketing campaigns that you could be searching and trialling forever. So instead, it is better to identify areas where you are limited in your control and look for ways to solve those limitations.

For example, if you sell widgets and find that your range of green widgets is performing better than your other products, chances are, you want to allocate more budget to that product and bid more aggressively. In this case, your 'green widgets' ads and ad groups can be moved to a separate campaign with a high daily budget, higher CPC bids and accelerated ad delivery.

Another way to check that your structure and configuration are working for you is to look at your campaign from a searcher’s perspective. Google and Bing provide previews and diagnosis tools to help you troubleshoot your ads and settings.

Using these tools, you can test if specific search terms and targeting settings are triggering the correct keywords and ads. You can also ensure that your ads are being customised and displayed the way you intended.

Conversion leaks
Leaking conversions means that, although your campaigns are attracting interested potential customers, those people are facing some major roadblocks that prevent them from completing a conversion.

Conversion leaks are usually mistakes or misconfigurations that make it difficult for people to convert from your ads. Directing users to the wrong landing page is a good example of a conversion leak. This is very different to conversion rate optimisation.

Conversion leaks are not always easy to spot by previewing ads or spot-checking landing pages. Instead, you may need to do periodic audits of your campaigns to ensure that your campaigns and ads are not leaking conversions.

Here are a few things you should check:
  • Ads go to the right landing pages
  • No page-not-found (404), internal server errors (500) or other errors that prevent landing pages from displaying correctly
  • Web pages load quickly
  • No unnecessary redirects
  • Your call extensions only display when your customer service staff are available
  • Your location extensions are configured properly to list the closest storefront
  • Your website and conversion funnel works well on all devices that your campaign targets

Lack of optimisation
Optimising an SEM account is an ongoing process of planning, implementing, testing and evaluating your campaigns to maximise your return on investment (ROI).

Campaigns can never be fully optimised simply because of the constant changes in the bidding marketplace, user behaviour, and other factors. However, there are some basic optimisation practices that every campaign should go through to ensure that it remains competitive and achieves sustainable ROI.

Campaign optimisation - This includes ad group build-out, keyword expansion, negative targeting, refining remarketing audiences, and more.

Ad creative optimisation – Using A/B testing and experiments to test and improve your ad creative can mean the difference between a user clicking your ad or your competitor's.

Bid optimisation – The amount you should bid on a keyword to maximise your ROI is dependent on a large number of factors including competition, search volume, ad and keyword quality score, conversion rates and seasonality. Algorithmic bid optimisation can adjust your bids regularly to maximise ROI.

Conversion rate optimisation – This has a compounding effect on your ROI because increasing your conversion rate not only increases revenue, it also involves making changes that are likely to improve your quality score; reducing your CPC cost. Your lower CPC cost and higher revenue from sales or leads means you can then bid more aggressively and capture a larger share of the market at a sustainable cost; further increasing your ROI.

If your search engine marketing campaigns are not delivering a sustainable return on investment to grow your business, talk to Metrixa today or tweet me @nathan5ri