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Recently, I was speaking to a prospective client about their Google CPC campaigns – they’re relying on the usual suspects: Branded Search, Unbranded Search, Retargeting Display, Contextual Display. . .

As this company is a business-to-business marketer, they’re not looking to capture sales directly on their website. Rather, they are interested in building their brand (and potentially generating leads).

This led to a conversation around campaign optimization – I inquired as to how they were optimizing their campaigns to make sure they were spending as efficiently as possible.  Their response was that they had dedicated a certain budget to these efforts and were working to get as much traffic as possible within that set budget.

I suppose that is one way to do it, and I hate to tell anyone that they are doing it wrong, but. . . Isn’t the goal to get quality traffic and build your brand with site visitors that are actually relevant to your business??

Here is what I told them:

“As with any website, you need to determine what your key metrics will be – only then can you properly measure and optimize your marketing efforts. In this case, this KPI should not be a raw traffic number – “engagement” is what we are looking for here.  Let’s instead focus on engagement metrics such as Average Session Duration and Pages/Session.  My logic here is that the longer a visitor spends on the site absorbing content, the more likely they are to truly be interested in what you have to offer AND the more likely that they will ultimately be a customer.  Traffic Quality vs Traffic Quantity”

The question then comes up how I would actually do this from an operational standpoint – I was sorry to say I did not have any proprietary tricks or tools up my sleeve. Rather, this is something that anyone with a website, a google adwords account and a google analytics account can (and should do).  Note to self – perhaps I should not disclose how easily this can be accomplished in future conversations with prospective clientsJ

Anyway, here is what I would do to start improving spend efficiency:  This is just a first step and really focuses on getting rid of the low quality traffic that is eating away at your marketing budget – but trust me that this can go a long way towards meeting your overall engagement goals.

For this example, I will talk about Contextual Display ads, but the same thing applies for all Google campaigns (for search campaigns look at keywords rather than placements).

  • Open up Google Adwords and navigate to your Contextual Display Campaign.
  • Click on ‘Display Network’ and then ‘Placements’ in that nav section.  You are now looking at every site where your ads have been placed.
  • Open up another window for Google Analytics and navigate to ‘Acquistion’,  ‘AdWords’, ‘Placements’
  • Click on ‘Automated Placements’

You should now be looking at the same list of placements – assuming that you have the same date ranges and are sorting both the same way. (I like to sort by Sessions in Google Analytics and Impressions in Google Adwords)

In Analytics, just start working your way down the list paying attention to the Pages/Session and Avg.Session Duration. You’ll probably notice some high variances from one placement to another on these metrics. As you get used to looking at these metrics, you will have to determine what you deem acceptable – and by this I mean traffic that you are willing to spend money on.

When you find a placement that you no longer want to have as part of your campaign – and my experience tells me you will find a bunch – simply find the same placement in your Google Adwords account and “exclude” it from your campaign.

That is really it. It’s Google Analytics basics. It takes some time to weed through the lists the first time you do this. But, after the initial clean-up, doing this once a week or so will go much faster.

And, I guarantee that you will start getting better traffic to your site and do so much more efficiently as you stop spending on low quality traffic and instead spend your budget on driving the most engaged traffic that you can!

As mentioned, this is a low tech and easy way to start improving traffic quality from AdWords.  Do others have another (perhaps faster) way of tackling this challenge?

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