Optimizing Conversion Rates: The PPC Analyst Perspective

Optimizing Conversion Rates: The PPC Analyst Perspective

Surprisingly, as a PPC analyst, I sometimes find that the best use of time in developing an AdWords account is in improving the conversion rate of the traffic that is driven to a site, rather than optimizing the AdWords account itself. As a business owner or entrepreneur, I urge you to also keep in mind the 80/20 principle and focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact.  Often advertisers depend on PPC solutions to improve their inefficiencies and effectively manage the traffic they pay for, and may not realize that the greatest impact may lie in boosting the conversion rate of the traffic once on the site.

Sometimes when prioritizing the factors that have the greatest impact on an AdWords account’s performance, the greatest gain may be in improving conversion rate, rather than applying other PPC-focused tactics.  PPC ad management techniques such as changing bids, keyword build-out, implementing negatives, and others assist with the overall performance of an AdWords account, but focusing on improving a conversion rate may bring you the greatest gains in the overall business picture.

The problem? Impacting the conversion rate may not be directly in the hands of a PPC management team, if they don’t have the site control to alter landing pages.  But, if conversion rate is the problem, there still are some initiatives a PPC analyst can take even if they can’t design or alter landing pages, and of course they can always be the voice of reason illuminating the big picture and advocating for attention to the most important areas of the business.

Just How Big of an Impact Can Conversion Rate Have?

To really give you a feel of how big of an impact these conversion rates can have on your overall performance & CPA, take a look at the example below.

With the same amount of traffic, same amount of cost, but just a slight difference in conversion rate of 0.2%, both conversions and CPA improve significantly.

Total Cost


Conv. %













Now, a 0.2% raise in a conversion rate may not seem like a big difference (and it is actually quite a realistic short term goal for a campaign in real life), but when you look at it with a long term business perspective, this can mean increasing your ROI very significantly. If you are saving $3.45 per conversion while averaging 192 conversions per month, you’ll be increasing your yearly revenue by nearly $8,000!

So, How Can PPC Analysis Help to Improve Conversion Rates?

Here are three useful tactics that you can implement from a PPC perspective to improve overall conversion rates.

1) Diligent Ad Copy Split-Testing

Continuously run split tests on ad copy to create more and more effective ads.  Rotate your ads evenly to get to statistical significance as soon as possible, and monitor your ad copy tests carefully so that you determine winning ads and start new tests in a timely fashion, always seeking constant improvement.

Don’t believe that ad copy can affect conversion rates?  Every ad copy you try filters out a different subset of visitors to your site.  At an extreme, if you accidentally were to run an ad with the headline “Test test test” and similar description lines, you’d likely get a very high CTR from curiosity seekers, but almost no one would convert according to your site goals.

In addition to affecting conversion rate ad copy most obviously directly affects your CTR, which in turn has an impact on your Quality Score, and all of these factors affect your CPA.  Optimize taking all these metrics into consideration. Sound daunting?  Declare winning ads using a profit per impression test balances all these metrics well, although the most profitable ads do sometimes have a lower CTR, which will indirectly affect Quality Score, so be aware of that potential trade off.

2) Choose the Best Available Landing Page

Are you sending your customers to the best, most relevant page on your site?  Make sure you have the most appropriate page possible.  If a customer is searching for aluminum siding, sending them to the specific aluminum siding page is better than sending them to a generic siding page, or your home page. Never make your customer search the page for what was promised to them in the advertisement.

Pay special attention to the landing pages for your high traffic keywords and the specific products they represent. Lobby for or create new landing pages and use Website Optimizer to constantly test them, if appropriate.

3) Utilize Google Analytics:

Dig deep in Google Analytics for useful information on your overall site traffic, and how your customers interact with your web site.  Some analytics tactics that are useful for an AdWords analyst with conversion rate in mind include:

Review your landing pages to determine which are most successful and which need more attention.  Which ones have high bounce rates or unusually low average time on site?

Identify what geographic segments of your traffic convert the best.  Would AdWords campaigns specifically targeted to them in terms of ad copy message help conversion rates?  Would geo-targeting those responsive site visitors at the city or state level benefit you?  Note that state and metro level geo-targeting in AdWords yields a fifth line with your geographic info in most AdWords ads, which may increase CTR and conversion rate.

Create “Advanced Segments” and sort out portions of your traffic to see if they convert differently, and see if you can cater to the responsive traffic. Perhaps a certain time of day yields a higher conversion rate, or maybe visitors hardly ever buy the first time they visit your web site.  Use this information to your advantage and craft an advertising campaign that utilizes your marketing research.

By Jamie Wallace

Paid Search Analyst