14 Apr 2015

3 Practical Tips You Can Take Away from AdWords Search Funnels

Does AdWords play a significant part in your business’ online marketing presence? If so, how well do you understand how your potential customers search for your products? If you answered this question with anything but “Like the back of my hand!,” this article is for you.

In this article, I will cover 3 actionable items you can immediately take away from AdWords “Search Funnels” and implement into your AdWords campaigns to improve their performance. Let’s make sure you know where this feature is within your account.

conversionspaneYou can find the dashboard by clicking Tools, then Conversions. Once you’re on the Conversions subpage, on the bottom left-hand side will be Search Funnels.

To start, Think with Google’s rundown of AdWords Search Funnels defines the Search Funnels as a dashboard that “show[s] the entire search path leading up to a conversion, including search ad clicks and impressions.”

With regards to why you’d use Search Funnels, Think with Google later states that “the data you see in [them] can help you understand how users search for your products by giving you insight into the ads your customers interact with during their entire conversion path… [which ultimately allows you to] increase the efficiency of your AdWords accounts by discovering and prioritizing assisting keywords, ad groups, and campaigns, as well as those that convert.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself! Follow along in the process below to see exactly how you can make Search Funnels improve your campaigns.

In the initial Search Funnels overview you will see a quick snapshot showing you a few key things:

  • Total Conversions
  • Conversion Value
  • Days to Conversion
  • Ad Clicks per Conversion
  • Ad Impressions per Conversion (within designated date range)

This is a nice high level account overview that can give you a general idea of where you want to dig deeper to optimize.

Overview

Keyword Bidding

Beware: Keyword performance may be deceiving if you only look at the conversions column. AdWords uses the last click attribution model, which means several of your keywords’ value may be overlooked if they weren’t responsible for your most recent ad click. To get a better idea of performance use the Click Assisted Conversions report to show you Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords that have led to conversions even if they did not produce the most recent click. This report will show a “hidden value” To your keywords that can be enormously useful when optimizing your keyword bids.

Take for example a promotional products company whose AdWords campaign includes the keywords “custom coffee cup” and “custom coffee mug” with data in the below table:Keyword table

While conversions is the most important piece of the data, there are other KPIs that matter when looking at overall keyword performance. Looking at this table, I can make a more informed decision about these two keywords. If I only looked at the conversions for these keywords I would probably lower my bid on “custom coffee mug.” This depends on the value I give to Click Assisted Conversions. If I value Click Assisted Conversions as much as or just half as much as a Conversion, then “custom coffee mug” would be more cost effective than “custom coffee cup.”

Structuring Your Remarketing Campaigns

If you’re unfamiliar with the “Time Lag” report within AdWords, I strongly suggest taking a look. This report shows you the amount of time it takes a customer to convert after seeing or clicking on your ads for the first time. The benefit of this data is that it can help you do things like make a determination on lead time for things like seasonal campaigns and other similar items. This ultimately helps you establish your average customer’s research behavior and purchase cycle.

What can you do with this data?

The options are innumerable, but for the sake of this article, we’re going to look at how Time Lag data compares to the research and sales cycle you’ve identified in other revenue streams. The ultimate goal here is to use those findings to dictate the structure of your remarketing campaigns.

Where do you start? Here are some example questions to ask yourself while reviewing the data:

  •         Are your AdWords campaigns converting quicker or slower than organic searchers?
  •         Do searchers convert at a higher rate after a certain number of days?
  •         Do searchers who wait longer make larger purchases?

Determining the answers to these questions can help you begin to construct a remarketing campaign that is data-driven and not aimlessly thrown together.

For example, let’s say you take a look at the Time Lag report and see that searches that convert after 10+ days tend to purchase more high-end products than those that convert in less. From this data, it’d be wise to set up a remarketing campaign that is shown only to those who have interacted with your ads 10+ days ago that point just to your more high-end products. An offshoot of this campaign would be something like a remarketing campaign that begins to serve up ads pointing to those high-end products a few days prior to the 10+ day mark.

In doing the above, you can make strides towards maximizing the total number of conversions you receive via remarketing. What’s more, the Time Lag report can help you identify searchers who are unlikely to convert after a certain amount of time. In that case, you would simply set a constraint on your remarketing campaigns that stopped showing to people after that unlikely-to-convert time threshold has been crossed.

Optimizing Paths

Another great way to optimize your campaigns using the Search Funnels is by looking at the Top Paths and Path Length reports.

The Top Path report tells you the common paths a searcher took to convert on your website, providing data on everything from clicks to impressions, queries to transitions. This again can be broken down by keywords, ad groups, campaigns to show the patterns of someone converting.

For example, if you look at the Keyword Path (Clicks) report, you may find that most of your conversions start with searchers clicking a keyword in an ad group that is broader and by most measures poorly performing. Then the same searchers search your company name, click on a branded ad, and ultimately convert.

Before looking at this report, you may have thought that the broader ad group was not valuable, while the reality is that it makes searchers more aware of your company and entices them to come back and convert. From here, it is up to you how valuable that path is based on the cost of the clicks in the broader and the branded campaign.

The Path Length report shows you how many clicks or impressions a typical searcher completes before converting. Here at Vertical Measures, we’ve found that this report has a tendency to show that we can narrow down keywords and ad groups to be more specific, and ultimately more profitable.

If a searcher is converting after several clicks, it may be that they were broad in their search and thought your first ad was what they were looking for but wasn’t. Maybe their search term was for research and not a transactional query. After the information query, however, they then searched a narrower search term over and over until they found what they were looking for.

If you are specifically advertising for quick purchases, then it would be a good idea to narrow down your keywords and ad groups to what searchers are looking for right away. Optimizing according to the Path Length report can help lower costs by eliminating clicks for research or keywords that are too broad.

Ultimately, the Search Funnel options can get very granular and, while you can dive deeper into the data, I think these three strategies are the most valuable and easiest to use to optimize your campaign. From finding value in your keywords and ad groups to structuring your remarketing campaign to optimizing the paths in the search funnel, you can really help your bottom line by reviewing data that is often overlooked.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.