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Sometimes Low Click-Through-Rates are in PPC Campaigns are a Good Thing (gasp!)


Sometimes, search advertisers get a bit too focused on looking at overall account and campaign CTRs for search campaigns. Typically, increasing your CTR can really help your account by improving your quality score, lowering CPCs, and increasing conversion metrics.

In most cases, this is part of the day-to-day campaign optimization search marketers perform. Search managers are always testing ads, looking for improvements in CTR, trying to reduce irrelevant impressions by changing keyword match types, and adding irrelevant terms as negative match keywords. By doing this, you can increase your CTR which will often drive more relevant site traffic at a lower cost.

However, sometimes having an intentionally lower CTR can substantially improve a more important metric- cost per conversion (or lead, acquisition etc…).

If some of your critical terms are not exclusive to the products, services, or solutions you offer, a low CTR can often indicate your ads are doing a good job at weeding out irrelevant clicks from the wrong user base. This means that you are not wasting money driving non-converting clicks to your landing pages, and in turn, a lower click-through rate leads to a higher conversion rate, and ultimately a higher return on investment.

For example, take a look at the term “wireless security”. If you are a B2B company offering wireless data security solutions for large enterprises, this might be a very critical, early sales funnel type term. Stakeholders in your organization might want to be sure the ads are running for this type of term, despite the potential for a higher than average cost per conversion.

The problem with this type of term however is that the vast majority of users searching on this are likely not the target you are looking to reach. Most users searching for this are likely looking for basic encryption for home networks, as opposed to enterprise solutions. So, how can you make sure you show up for this query while at the same time not wasting a lot of money on non-converting clicks? By making highly specific ads to weed out the non-enterprise audience you are not trying to reach.

See the sample below of how a scenario like this could look:

Click for Larger Image

In some cases, intentionally working on lowering your CTR can lead to substantial gains conversion rate and an improvement in cost per lead.

Here are a few tips you can use to get started testing your approach to critical terms that might be used in a different context by an irrelevant audience.

1. Negative match any popular queries that obviously don’t relate directly to your offerings.

  • –In this example, many people also search on “wireless security cameras” which is not related to the enterprise  offering, so make sure to negative match “camera”, “webcam” etc…

2. Disable dynamic keyword insertion

  • –Dynamic Keyword Insertion typically helps boost CTR because the user sees their exact query in the ad
  • –In this scenario, this could be costly and can lead to many non-converting clicks from an irrelevant audience
  • –By disabling dynamic insertion, you can hard code a more specific ad that can help weed out clicks form the wrong audience
  • –Instead of having an ad reading “Wireless Security” in the headline, you can decrease the CTR and increase the conversion rate by hard coding a more specific “Enterprise” message

3. Utilize specific benefit statements and offers that are not relevant to the “wrong” audience that uses the term

  • –Don’t use broad calls to action like “Learn More”. Instead, provide an asset that would not be relevant to the larger audience you are not trying to reach. Make sure you highlight this enterprise specific offer in the ad copy.
  • –Use benefit statements that wouldn’t apply to the irrelevant audience if possible

4. Test various keyword match settings for terms that have overlapping audiences

  • –Exact match might result in lower volume but can also improve efficiencies
  • –Phrase match can result in more irrelevant clicks but will cast a wider net. By looking at query reports however you can continue to add additional negative match terms, and identifying opportunities for additional variations of the term more likely to be used by the desired audience

In some cases, these tactics can help you maintain visibility on critical, early funnel terms without sacrificing too much in terms of overall campaign cost per conversion.


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