AdWords Tips

AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 14

By Elisa Gabbert January 10, 2012 Posted In: AdWords Tips Comments: 0

This is the latest in a series of interviews we're conducting with AdWords advertisers who got unusually high scores using our AdWords Performance Grader. We're reaching out to high scorers to find out what strategies contribute to their strong AdWords performance. For more in this series, see:

This week’s interview is with Vasilis Katsikadis.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been using AdWords? What is your primary goal for AdWords marketing?

I am an online marketing executive at E-Travel, an online travel agency that operates mainly in 10 countries in southeast and central Europe. I am responsible for all the marketing channels for two of the top three countries that E-Travel operates in, Greece and Cyprus (pamediakopes.gr). In the past I have run SEM and SEO projects for other sites/markets, like trip.ru (Russia) and airtickets24.com (Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Portugal).

My primary goal for AdWords marketing is to maximize sales in the most efficient way. That is why I base my strategy and my tactics as well on metrics such as CPA and Conversion Rates.

There are tons of metrics in AdWords – What are your top 3 Key Performance Metrics in AdWords and why?

Quality Score: Definitely one of the most important metrics in AdWords. Quality Score implies relevancy, and relevancy is rewarded by Google with better placements of your advertisements at lower costs. I keep track of the fluctuation of this metric at all my campaigns and focus on getting  Quality scores greater than 7.

CTR: With the Click-Through-Rate metric you can see by what percent your ads are relevant. As referred to above, the higher the CTR the more relevant your ads are, which leads to a better Quality Score and lower costs. If you experience a drop in revenue, have higher CPAs and lower transactions, you can take a look firstly at your CTR metric. If CTR is decreased, then most probably your Quality Score is lowered which will lead to lower visibility and higher average cost. Some ways of improving your CTR are:

  1. Add negatives from the search term report.
  2. Include keyword in Ad Text (Headline, Description, Display URL) or with Dynamic Key Insertion at the headline of the ad text.
  3. Add relevant Sitelinks to your advertisements.

CPA: Cost per acquisition is a key performance metric for every marketer. With CPA you can evaluate the performance of your campaign in terms of profitability and efficiency. Low CPA figures can always be a target for your campaign, but you should keep a balance between total conversion value and CPA. Despite what your primary goal is, from maximizing ROI to increasing brand awareness, having a target CPA may help you structure your optimization strategy in a more calculated way.

Can you describe your AdWords management strategy? How do you set your campaign objectives, and how do you know what’s realistic or not?

Depending on the level each campaign is optimized for in terms of testing and expanding, my management strategy differs. For the campaigns that spend the largest amount of my budget and for those that I have ensured contain the right keywords in the right match types along with a significant number of long-tail keywords, I focus more on bidding management and ad text experimenting (including ad extensions testing).

On the other hand, for the campaigns that I have built either to increase brand awareness or to expand in order to include more niches in my account, I mostly concentrate on keyword management in addition to ad text management. For these campaigns my ultimate goal is to identify new opportunities with different variations of keywords and with the detailed deliberation of the search term report, to add the right negative keywords to produce more efficient results in terms of ROI.

Describe your AdWords management workflow. When you’re doing your account optimization work, how do you decide what to do next in your account? How do you prioritize your work?

I have scheduled a specific program where I optimize a different campaign each day of the month. The most important campaigns in terms of budget spending, and of course ROI, are optimized more frequently, but in general I try to optimize all my campaigns at least once per month. By optimizing each campaign in short timelines (e.g. once every 1-2 weeks) you I get an idea of what is happening with the competition, offers, prices, and general performance of each "product" (that is related to the campaign) and gain automatically a perspective of what is happening with the searches and the direct competition in the short term.  

I also keep track of the same figures in longer timelines (e.g., once every 50 days), where I am able to reach a more integrated conclusion concerning the fluctuation of metrics (conversions, cost, CTR, Quality Score etc).

While I am working on campaign-level optimization, I note down all the tests and experiments I have launched. At the time I get back to this campaign I track the results, compare the metrics and if the experiment was successful I use it on a different campaign and start a new one in the current campaign. In this way, I am continuously experimenting, while at the same time I am using both positive and negative results from the experiments, to improve the performance of all my campaigns. Experiments may vary in adding new keywords, or trying different combinations of ad texts and sitelinks, new targeted ad groups or even landing page optimization. Even if you think that you have created a perfectly structured campaign, there is always room for improvement. I never stop testing at all levels, but in order to keep the data efficient so that it will generate safe conclusions, I focus on testing in single and not multiple parameters.

Any advice or tips for AdWords marketers that didn’t score as well as you?

In general, manual campaign management requires more hard work but in the long term rewards you with greater ROI in comparison with campaign management using automated tools in all levels.

  • Work constantly on optimizing, having as a goal to drill down, create highly  targeted ad groups and discover valuable long-tail keywords that will give you the opportunity to gain advantage over your competitors and maximize your ROI.
  • Minimize cost and increase relevance by adding negative keywords with the right match types. Each time you create a new ad group or campaign use “Diagnose keywords” to check that all your keywords are triggering the right ads. Use the Google Ad-Preview Tool to check on your competition both on CPC and organic level.
  • Always check conversion search funnels from Google Tools, to identify not only the direct but also the assisted conversions. Especially when you are planning to pause a keyword, ad group or campaign or proceed to bidding management you should take this valuable data into consideration before making a decision.
  • As mentioned before, never stop testing and experimenting at all levels. Test on a single parameter (e.g changing the headline of an Ad text or using a different  landing pages on two identical Ads) and use the valuable results you will get in other campaigns.
  • Make decisions solely based on data and not on personal assumptions.

What did you think about the categories we included in the AdWords Grader – anything missing?

The AdWords Performance Grader generates fairly comparative results regarding the performance of any AdWords account. A different column for e-commerce metrics could be added to the categories list, containing a percentage on how much the user has taken advantage over assisting conversion campaigns. This would make it even more complete as a PPC audit tool.

Location targeting AdWords




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