Monthly Archives: November 2009

Use These Tips from Yahoo to Maximize Your Holiday Revenue

This information was presented in a webinar by Yahoo last week. I went into it hoping to learn something new but wasn’t expecting to learn something new – but it turned out to be a very insightful webinar full of good stats that you can cater your PPC advertising campaigns to this holiday season.

General Holiday Shopping Stats:

  • Women this year are planning to spend less.
  • More comparison shopping will be done this year over any other previous year to try and find the best deals and offers. This means it’s likely your click-through rates will decrease due to an increase in impressions from consumers clicking on various websites looking for deals. This also means more shopping will be done on comparison shopping engines like, and to name a few.
  • More shoppers are buying practical gifts/necessities as Christmas gifts. This could mean gift cards to a grocery store over a whimsical Christmas sweater with Frosty the Snowman on it.
  • Online shopping does still continue to grow year over year. So having an online presence is critical during the months of November and December.
  • 26% of men will be shopping online, while only 20% of women will be shopping online. You know what this means, electronics! Men love to shop for electronics online and look for the best prices. If you sell ipods, TV’s, etc. make sure you have a promotion going on like Free Shipping or a discount offer for these male shoppers.
  • 25 – 34 year olds will be shopping online mainly. Older people still aren’t 100% comfortable shopping online and will likely make the trip to the mall instead.

Statistics on Categories of Gifts:

  • Clothing and accessories trump Black Friday sales.
  • Books, DVD’s and games fall in second place.
  • Then electronics and toys fall in third place.

Peak Days for Shoppers:

“Cyber Monday” (busiest online shopping day of the year) is most popular for people who have access to the internet at work and shop during their 8 – 5 office job.

Christmas Day is large in sales for shoppers (mainly women) looking for sales!

What are women looking for:

  • Clothing and accessories
  • Jewelry and watches

Other categories of items have peak shopping days too:

  • Books/dvd/video games = sales peak cyber monday
  • Home category = Black Friday sales begin to rise, real peak is second week of December.
  • Toys = sales peak Cyber Monday, sales begin to declines after Christmas Day.
  • Gift cards = Sales peak Cyber Monday.
  • Game consoles = sales begin to increase Cyber Monday, but largest peak is on Christmas Day
  • Consumer electronics = largest sales peak is during first week of December.
  • Computer hardware = sales begin to pick up Black Friday, Cyber Monday is highest sales peak.
  • Sporting goods = sales peak is day after Cyber Monday
  • Travel = searches for travel rise towards the end of December, but really picks up after first of the year.


  • If you think you can still make good sales without the use of promotions and incentives, think again.
  • 1 in 5 shoppers will only purchase a product online when free shipping is offered
  • Most retailers offer free shipping both ways, free shipping over a certain amount or free shipping when…
  • National free shipping day – December 17

Consumers are mainly finding their Christmas Gifts via:

  1. search engines
  3. catalog
  4. ebay

Search Statistics:

  • 50% of black Friday terms contained 4 or more keywords in 08.
  • Black Friday conversions increased 147% compared to a normal day in November.
  • Cyber Monday conversions increased 73%
  • Lower CTR indicate more comparison shopping and more research
  • Yahoo strongly recommends more ad text testing and the use of the content network during these peak sales times.
  • Yahoo also recommends using campaign scheduling, advanced targeting geographically, or demographically, and help with optimization by an account manager.

Yahoo’s Buying cycle:

  • Step 1:  Learning:  What do I want/need, how can I learn about xyz.
  • Step 2:  Shopping: What brands, features are available.
  • Step 3:  Purchase:  Who stocks this model number, “I want that one daddy”

yahoo buying cycle

More Yahoo Tips:

  • Take users to landing pages!
  • Ensure you site has effective on site search
  • Confirm prices/promos throughout all your pages.
  • Enter a daily spending limit – you can see how many impressions and clicks you may receive
  • Make good use of dynamic keyword insertion to target your ads better.
  • Ads with slogans or too much sales jargon don’t perform as well. Simply state what is being offered.
  • Read user ratings!!! Put this in your ads and you may see increases in CTR’s.
  • Maximize your ad space, use all characters.
  • Be specific in your ad, not general.
  • The yahoo marketplace is underserved by sites that actually sell items. Most are sites that aggregate other sites, like parked domains.

Overall I thought it was a great webinar and very insightful. It’s important to keep in mind these are just Yahoo! statistics for previous holiday seasons. If there is any time to increase your budget for PPC advertising it would be during the end of November and all of December. If you have a travel related website, increase your budget after Christmas and during the month of January. Good luck this holiday season!


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Landing Page Testing: How to test and what to test

Testing your ad copy and your landing pages can significantly improve your paid search efforts. Of course, building a solid keyword base, creating an optimized account structure, and executing a well-planned bid management strategy are also crucial. However, testing allows you to understand how to optimize and improve your communication with your target audience. Conducting thorough tests on your landing pages can deepen your audience interaction and increase your conversion rate.

If you’re like a lot of companies, running tests on your landing pages used to involve numerous meetings with your IT department, development hours in order to get everything designed and launched, as well as additional time to analyze the active tests. Your life as a search engine marketer got easier when Google launched Website Optimizer. If you have access to your landing page code, and you have some basic coding skills (or someone in close proximity does), then you can quickly launch tests, analyze the results and adjust accordingly.

With Website Optimizer you can run all of your testing in one location. (And no, this isn’t a paid plug for for this tool. We just think it’s extremely helpful!) You can monitor your tests, make adjustments as needed and improve your conversion rate. As far specific technical requirements are concerned to launch tests with Website Optimizer, I’ll leave that to the help section of the official website.

However, once you have your account open and your ready to start improving your landing page performance, what exactly should you be testing? Here is a list of landing page/website elements that you can test in order to learn what appeals best to your audience.

Headline: Your headline, along with almost every other element on our landing page, needs to be relevant, timely and appropriate for your audience. First, your headline has to assure the user that they’ve landed (pun intended) in the right place. In this vein, your headline needs address the core concern of someone who arrives on your page. From the first second of a user’s arrival, you need to tell them that you have the answer to their search.

There are numerous ways to write and test great headlines. Here are just a few ideas for testing new headlines:

  • Try using emotional copy that will appeal to the user’s hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations.
  • Test customer-focused vs. company focused headline (example: We can make your lead prospecting easier vs. You can make your lead prospecting easier).
  • Split test using questions against declarative sentences.
  • Try using longer headlines that are loaded with benefits against shorter headlines that focus solely on setting up the conversion.
  • If you have headline copy that works well, then you can test the different font sizes and color.

Body copy: This is where you back-up the claims made in your headline or PPC ad. If your PPC ad inspired the user to click and the headline has convinced them to read further down the page, then your copy needs to do the heavy lifting.

Your body copy also needs to be relevant to a user’s search, benefit-driven, and written in the manner in which your audience expects. By this last point I mean that you need to know how colloquial, formal or technical the language on your landing page should be.

For the purpose of improving conversion rate, here a few body copy elements to test:

  • Try using short text against longer text.
  • Test copy that is more emotionally driven, rather than technical or feature driven.
  • Your copy should always be relevant, but you can test inserting more of your high-traffic keywords into your copy.
  • See if a list of benefits helps increase your performance.

Call-to-action: By this I could mean a few different things: the phrase that you use on your landing page for the desired action, or perhaps the button that users click on to go to the next step in your conversion funnel. Either way, you need to test it.

In regards to actual text, you should test a few different phrases to see which appeals to users best. Does a shorter call-to-action such as, “Sign Up’ work better than a more detailed one such as, “Get Your Free Guide Now.”

Also, you can test the color of your call-to-action buttons. Usually when there is an article written about landing page testing, someone mentions the button color. But it works and it’s worth testing.

Contact form: In the past, I have found that the next two are the hardest to test. The difficulty lies in the fact that the contact form is usually tied to a database. And if the contact form is damaged in anyway, then the leads will not populate correctly. However, if you can adapt, then this can be a quick win for testing.

For contact form testing, you should try out:

  • Different lengths of your form. Try to using a longer form, and then try a version that is short enough to get above the fold.
  • Ask fewer questions. How much information does your sales team need to follow up with a lead?
  • How many required fields do you have? Can you make some of them optional?
  • In regards to contact information; do you display your phone number on the landing page? How many calls do you receive from your landing page? Try removing the phone number to see if this inspires people to fill out the form.

Trust/Credibility symbols: Does your industry have certain certifications that will display your level of expertise and help build trust with your audience? If you don’t have them on your landing page, you should test this out. Also, if you’re accepting any type of payment, displaying safe-purchasing symbols can help improve your conversion rate.

Try out different offers: This is a quick one: you can highlight seasonal  or time-sensitive offers on your landing page. This is pretty straight forward. See which offer generates the best response and use it again at the same time the following year or even the next month.

Mini-site vs. Landing page: Once you have conducted a series of tests on your landing page and you feel that it’s as good as it’s going to get and you’ve hit the point of diminishing returns, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board. By this I mean you may need to completely re-think how you use landing pages. However, at least when you start this process, you’ll have a control landing page that you can test against.

With this tactic, you may to test out a mini-site or a multiple-step conversion process. Or if you’re using one of these longer forms, you may want to go the opposite direction and use a shorter landing page.

If you want more ideas on how to optimize landing pages for higher conversion rates, you can check out our podcast series, PPC Hero Landing Page Optimization Podcast.

For more in-depth information on landing page testing, I highly recommend Tim Ash’s book, Landing Page Optimization. And I also recommend Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar for additional information on Website Optimizer. Very helpful resources!

Keep in mind that there is a cost to landing page testing. Some of your tests are not going to be successful, but your results should improve over time. Optimizing your landing page is a continuous process that will lead to enhanced results when executed properly and with care.


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PPC News Roundup for 11/13/2009

  • Search Engine Land takes a look at the advanced segments feature in Google Analytics. The example compares short & long keywords to show how the advanced tool can be used to analyze keyword data more efficiently. Never hurts to learn a little bit more about Analytics…
  • The next installment in the SEM Beginner Series explains the use of dynamic text and how it can be used to improve some Key Performance Indicators. Ad copy that is customized to what the user searched on can improve your CTR and conversion rates.
  • Searching Beyond the Paid has a nice post this week on PPC and The Advertising Revolution. The post outlines similarities between PPC and old fashioned classified advertising, point to the call to action as the shared, essential feature.
  • Does Zappos have the foundation for future success in this blog post? I think so. Once a company begins to offer these kinds of benefits to both their customers and employees, everyone will eventually have to follow or be forced out of the competition.
  • Wes Walls at the NVI Solutions blog wrote up a good 4 step strategy to optimize your AdWords campaigns. These strategies are geared to help improve your click-through rate.
  • How can you make your PPC campaign awesome? Testing. Sure, you may not know exactly what appeals best to your audience when you’re launching, but you can quickly find out by testing and letting your users tell you what they like.
  • And finally: new AdWords features! Check out Brad Geddes’ post and make sure you know about all of them. Keep up with the times, you know.


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Weed Out Unqualified Traffic with the Search Query Report from MSN adCenter

Finally we’re getting more data about the search queries that trigger our ads to display in Google has had the search query report out for a while now, and Yahoo! has it but you have to request it personally from your Yahoo rep (if you have one). But now you can finally see raw search query data within your adCenter PPC account.

Search query reports show you the actual search queries that trigger your ads to show in the search engines results pages. Because you may have broad match keywords or even phrase match keywords, a user’s search query may not match exactly to what you have listed in your accounts. Therefore, this report will list common occurrences of a query that show your ads.

For example, you may have a broad match keyword in your PPC account for ‘pet album’ and MSN/Bing may end up showing your ad for, ‘pet store’ or ‘pet food’.

If you’re website doesn’t offer pet food or is not considered a pet store, you can add in these search queries as negatives – so the next time someone does type in ‘pet store’ or ‘pet food’ your ad will not show.

Advertisers can save a lot of PPC spend by running these search query reports regularly and adding in negative keywords that aren’t relevant to your product or services.

To run the search query report, simply go to the reports tab in adCenter, click ‘create a new report’, and using the drop down for report type, select ‘search query performance’.

search query report

To add negative keywords to your adCenter account, simply click on a campaign, click on a specific ad group, click ‘add or edit keywords’, and add in negative keywords in the negative keywords column at the bottom of the page.

negative keywords

Hopefully, soon we’ll be seeing many more features coming out of MSN/  But this is one feature that I know can help advertisers save money but not having their ads displayed for irrelevant search queries. Adding negative keywords is a great way to weed out unqualified traffic but still use broad match keywords.


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What Keeps Someone From Clicking on Your PPC Ad?

Sure, paid search ad copy contains only 25 characters for the headline (in AdWords) and 70 characters for the body copy, but this small space can be very complex to utilize optimally.

Within the confines of a PPC ad text you need to be relevant to your keywords, list as many benefits as possible, be unique and stand out from your competition, and include a clear call-to-action. As you strive to to incorporate all of these tactics into your ad texts you shouldn’t loose site of the fact that you’re trying to connect with real people.

While monitoring your click-through rate and conversion rate, also the time-on-site, pages per visitor, percent of new vs. return visitors and a plethora of other available stats, you need to remember that these numbers represent people. These stats are numerical representations of how well you have connected with your target audience, and the individuals who make up your audience.

Paid search marketing, and marketing in general, is all about making the right connections with the right people. People have hopes, dreams, needs, fears, likes, dislikes, and the list goes on and on. Your PPC ad texts should address these core concerns.

Often, when writing PPC ads, we focus on why some should click on your ad. A core concern/emotion that is often neglected is fear (or perhaps apathy). You should also take into consideration why someone wouldn’t click on your ad. What keeps someone from clicking on your ad?

This is the great thing about search marketing: someone is searching for you (or someone like you). Don’t take this for granted; you have to take the next step to convince them that they’ve found exactly what they’re looking for.

When optimizing your ad text performance you should think about this: if a user searches on a keyword that is relevant to your products/services, and they see your ad copy (which is keyword-focused and benefit-driven) but they don’t click on your ad. Seems like everything should be in place. So, what fears or concerns is holding a user back? Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic ball to tell you why a specific user, or group of users, aren’t attracted to your ad.

Of course, the best to way find out what works is to split test your PPC ad copy. However, before you write copy to test, you need to meditate on what your audience is looking for. How does your product/service solve their current problem and what can you say in your ad text that will talk to your audience’s core concerns?

The answers to these questions will be different for every advertiser. However, once you have developed a few ideas, molded them into new PPC ad texts, then I wholly suggest that you split test your ads to see if you’ve addressed these issues.

This brings us back to stats. Yes, that which I earlier suggested you step away from to get some perspective, I suggest that you turn to when learning if you’ve improved ads. This is the best way to know if you’ve enhanced your messaging. So, this is a rough outline of the process:

  1. Think about your customer’s core emotional concerns
  2. Review the ad texts you have running now
  3. Meditate on why certain ads have the best response rate
  4. Meditate on why certain ads are failing
  5. Think about why someone would *not* click on your ad
  6. Review your competitors’ ads
  7. Write new ads that address these concerns
  8. Launch your new ad texts
  9. Monitor the performance of your ads
  10. Repeat the process and continue to refine your messaging

And the same goes for your landing page. We haven’t even touched on landing pages! You should think in similar terms for your landing pages as well. But that is another article for another time.

It could come down to the fact that your competitors are talking to your audience with more success. Reviewing your competition to see what they have to say could be very enlightening. And it could be that the majority of users aren’t finding what they want at all.

The 95 characters within a PPC ad text (not including the display URL) can be very complicated. The success of your campaign hinges on your ability to appeal to your audience on numerous levels. Be the solution to your audience’s problem/query, address their concerns, and you’re well on your way to success.


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