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:
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 1 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 2 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 3 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 4 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 5 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 6 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 7 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 8 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 9 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 10 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 11 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 12 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 13 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 14 
- AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 15 
This week’s interview is with Jorn Vriend, a consultant at Oogst, a search engine marketing agency.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been using AdWords? What is your primary goal for AdWords marketing?
My name is Jorn Vriend and I work at Oogst. Oogst is a Dutch SEM Agency. We work mainly for large Finance, Retail and Travel companies who are in the forefront of online marketing. We step in to provide strategy and execution of web analytics, conversion optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine advertising and affiliate management projects. Oogst is accredited by Google and Yahoo! Search.
My daily role at Oogst is based on strategic consultancy and implementation of online marketing strategies for AA-level accounts in Travel, Finance, and IT, B2C as well as B2B. For 2 years I have been fully AdWords and analytics certified.
It is my job to help our customers translate their online marketing objectives into the best online marketing action plan. Oogst combines search engine advertising, SEO, affiliate marketing, performance-based display advertising and email marketing with cutting-edge tools and a high focus on web analytics. This enables me to optimize the online approach and the website (after the click) on CPA, costs of revenue and return on investment (ROI).
There are tons of metrics in AdWords. What are your top 3 Key Performance Metrics in AdWords and why?
Conversion rate: It was a close call between conversion rate and CTR. For us conversion rate and CPA are the leading metrics. Because … you want results right? Therefore make sure that you focus on conversion rate (and logically CPA), because these metrics are the main reason that you gain conversions. Unless gaining visitors is your goal.
CTR: The CTR tells me how relevant my structure, keywords and ads are. Therefore this is an extremely useful factor. Besides these metrics, it also influences your cost per click (CPC) and QS. A high CTR contributes significantly to a better QS. A study from ClickEquations in 2009 proves that a higher QS provides a discount on your CPC.
Make sure that your CTR is high. But your conversion rate and CPA are leading. You want the utmost of conversions, against the most profitable CPA right? Let these factors therefore be your main metrics.
Quality Score: Last, but certainly not least. The QS is a good metric to indicate your relevance. This metric predicts pretty well what your perspectives are in your campaign. When your keywords have a Quality Score  less than 6, you should really consider reviewing your keywords, campaign, ads and landing pages. Because of the fact that Quality Score influencers are several factors, it is a very useful and handy metric to determine relevance. The research above tells you something about the correlation between QS and CPC – specifically, how you pay for low Quality Scores with high CPC.
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?
At Oogst we have a specific workflow. The model above describes this. The start is a good website and a high quality campaign set-up.
- Determine marketing objectives of customer, online marketing goals for Oogst: Conversion scripts, a landing page audit, testing.
- Traffic, Conversion & CPA: Because Oogst works for several customers, we have different challenges. Besides traffic, these challenges are conversions and CPA. These are our key factors. Therefore we always look at CPA and conversion rate. We raise the bids of keywords  with a high conversion rate and good CPA. This way we can enlarge our reach and targeting audience. This is an easy way to gain more conversions.
- Expand the account and campaigns: We use several useful tools (like the AdWords external keyword tool, WordStream , Ubersuggest, etc.) to find new keywords that are relevant for the campaigns.
- Start tests to improve results: Test with different match types of successful keywords. Have you ever tried modified broad match  for your keywords? The successful keywords already have proven to contribute to conversions. These new similar keywords are therefore likely to achieve the same result. This is also an easy way to improve your campaign.
- Optimize high-volume keywords: Any high-volume keywords  are set aside and monitored with more attention. This way we can adjust the ads to improve CTR, and it is also an easy way to monitor successful ad groups.
- Focus on targets (optimize conversions, CPA and traffic): When we are adjusting campaigns to generate more conversions, we start decreasing the CPA. This is a drilldown procedure. First we lower the bids on keywords with a high CPA. When this does not lead to the desired effect we adjust the ad text, landing page or match type. When this also does not work we put the keyword on hold .
- Keep optimising: Because we use several match types most of the time, it is important to keep adding negatives to our campaigns. This improves both your Quality Score and your CTR. Eventually this will affect your CPC as well.
This is a weekly procedure. For high-volume campaigns/accounts we do this three times a week.
Can you describe your AdWords management strategy? How do you set your campaign objectives, and how do you know what’s realistic or not?
Our key factor is relevance. A good campaign set-up is the beginning. Determine high-volume keywords with Google’s keyword or traffic tool and separate these keywords in your campaigns. Define your target audience and decide whether to target the search or display network. Never use the search and display network in the same campaign . The results of the display campaign will have a huge impact on your search campaign. Try to set up 3 completely different ads. This way you can test with these ads and determine the most successful USP.
When you have completed your set-up, start the campaign. Optimize your campaigns by increasing or decreasing your bids, depending on the ROI and traffic of this keyword. When keywords are not successful, lower these bids or pause the keyword. When a keyword is successful, try to increase the reach. Adjust the bid, adjust the ad or add new similar keywords.
Our campaign objectives are always determined together with the clients and, of course, depend on their marketing objectives.
Any advice or tips for AdWords marketers that didn’t score as well as you?
1. Numbers tell the tale
Use conversion tracking . Otherwise you don’t know where to put your money. What is effective and contributes to conversions, and, also important, which keywords should be paused. Use Google Analytics or another analytics program (Google Analytics is free though) for additional analysis. Google AdWords is limited in its insights. With another analytics program you can monitor the behavior of the visitors on your website. It is also possible to gain insights into the possible conversion attribution of your AdWords campaigns.
Try additional techniques like location targeting  and time planning (dayparting ). Why not? With the new features of AdWords it is possible to see which hour is the most profitable. You can test this by raising your bids at that hour and see if you are gaining more conversions. This also applies to location targeting. It is very likely that a specific location contributes to a substantial share of your conversions. Try a specific campaign and see if this improves your conversion rate. You can also adjust your message to visitors, which improves the user experience and conversion rate.
2. Relevance is key
Make sure that your Quality Score (aim for a QS > 7), CTR and conversion rate are good. CTR is an important metric. Always improve and optimize your ads and add negatives to your campaign. Allocate high-volume keywords to separate ad groups. This way we can adjust the ads to improve the CTR and it is also an easy way to monitor successful ad groups. Avoid the usage of broad keywords. Mostly broad keywords lead to a low QS and low CTR. Then you have to have a high CPC to compensate for your QS. Try to be more relevant and offer the visitors a custom made ad and specific landing page . This leads to the best effect.
3. Pick low hanging fruit
Raise the bids of keywords with a high conversion rate. This is the most profitable and easiest way to gain more conversions. Split campaigns on a low level. This way you can present the most relevant ad. You can also add some relevant sitelinks, which improves your CTR. This is also an easy way to monitor your successful ad groups/keywords and improve these results.
4. Test and optimize your campaigns
Try a sandbox-campaign. Sometimes these campaigns offer a lot of useful insights. Mostly this is a common way to improve your keyword set and discover negative keywords.
Test and optimize your ads. Keep repeating this process. Strive for the ultimate ad, based on both CTR and conversion rate. This also applies to the landing page. Continue to focus on the landing page with the best user experience and conversion rate.
Have you ever tested other positions for your AdWords keywords? Which was the most profitable? If you never tested your keywords on other (probably higher) positions you should consider to test with another position. What is the effect? More visitors, better QS or even a lower CPC (due to the effect of the better CTR and QS)?
What did you think about the categories we included in the AdWords Grader? Anything missing?
I would like to see an overall Quality Score index. For several clients we noticed that the importance of the QS is rising. More and more QS leads to a lower/higher CPC, which has dramatic impact on performance. Furthermore a benchmark for the vertical (per country) would be very useful. This is hard, probably only Google can tell.