What feels like an eternity ago, I wrote an article titled, “Are Your Internet Goals Leaning Against the Right Wall” that told a story about a website company’s miserable experience with a well-known third party PPC management company. The point of the story asked if businesses were setting the right performance objectives for their online advertising campaigns. From my experiences, it seems most agencies and businesses alike tend to focus on impressions and click-through rates versus conversions and cost per actions.
Fast-forward a few years and wouldn’t you imagine…
Here I was having a similar conversation with an emerging e-commerce company about their PPC management provider but in this case the third party provider was a Paid Search Engine’s Optimization team!
The e-commerce business was in disbelief after reviewing their absolute dismal results. They couldn’t believe how their PPC campaign performed so poorly even though the Paid Search Engine’s own optimization team had setup and managed it. Still shocked, the business asked me if I had ever experienced something like this.
It was Deja Vu (and thanks to Denzel Washington, I started to get the feeling that I was being watched.) How could the business have expected anything different than high volumes of traffic and low conversions? The optimization team was focused on generating relevant traffic (although “relevant” can be seriously debated) with an eye on click-through rates. It is really not their role to focus on what happens after the visitors are delivered to the business’ website where the conversion actually occurs. From a purely business perspective, the optimization team is satisfying the business’ objective by generating more traffic while also helping themselves to more ad revenue.
The business’ responsibility is to receive the traffic and steer it towards a conversion while managing the ad cost through proper budgeting. It should be a win-win if both sides know and accept their responsibilities. Unfortunately, too many businesses still don’t grasp the concept of measuring conversion and cost per action. Somehow conversion is expected – BUT in my experience over the past seven years – conversion is earned.
Now, to the debatable point about “relevant” traffic – it is also the businesses responsibility if they choose to use a Paid Search Engine’s optimization team to also verify the channels (e.g. search versus content), keywords and ad copy the optimization team is planning to execute. Sure – they are the experts, right? Wrong! No one knows your market and customers better than you unless the provider takes the time to learn and understand.
I recently had an experience where my team was severely short on time and we needed to get a new Paid Search campaign active for a client. I decided to leverage the Paid Search Engine’s optimization team to setup the campaigns (including expansion and ad copy) knowing that someone on my team would circle back within a few days to adjust.
Wow…I couldn’t even believe the mess we entered into. The ad copy was so far off target that it was using a call-to-action not even present on our landing page. Out of the 100+ keywords only 25 or so were relevant with the client’s actual service or market. Other keywords were only slightly relevant (e.g. vague/broad reach keywords) or just completely off base. I expected some level of ineffectiveness and had planned to improve effectiveness after the initial laborious setup work was completed. We accepted the responsibility and certainly don’t blame the Paid Search Engine team for a less than effective campaign. However, many businesses appear to expect effectiveness and are surprised when it doesn’t happen.
What’s my new point after this recent experience? You have to work for conversions.