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by bjorn

The art of automating winning with PPC bidding engines when you have something to sell

9:00 am in Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog by bjorn

This is a guest post by Bjorn Espenes, founder of several Internet businesses including one that processed over $1 billion in online sales for clients. Most recently he co-founded Finch with Eric Maas bringing 10 years of building optimized eCommerce software experience to the PPC industry. You can read more about how to optimize your Pay Per Click on the Finch Blog.

For every search on Google there is 1 click to be had; sometimes it goes to the organic (SEO) search result and other times it goes to paid advertising results (PPC). The companies with a product to sell who are participating in either organic search or PPC are competing for this 1 click. So, if you know there is only one click to be had, what are you willing to do to get that click? Your answer is likely “whatever it takes,” but reality is likely more “I hope whatever I am doing now will catch that click.” There are mind blowing facts within the PPC world: Companies will spend time, resources, and efforts on exploring SEO strategies to get the click; and they will engage in off-the-deep-end strategy discussions with their agencies and advisors for how the relationship with SEO and PPC works, how the search funnel should be capitalized, and how branded terms should or should not be part of the PPC effort. Those are the facts, but what is so mind blowing about them?

Those facts are mind blowing because they are the little things that only need to be fine-tuned later on. What companies are missing out on it this: The PPC world lives by the CPA model (cost per acquisition/conversion). The more competitive the industry, the more insane this gets. Take the travel or insurance industry; prime examples of why the CPA model is a key illustration of what is wrong with an entire industry. Everyone is setting a target on how much they are willing to pay for a conversion/sale, and of course this is based on the cost of the conversion (click costs divided by number of conversions for your site) in relation to what you are selling. This makes perfect sense and is why everyone is doing it. There are two problems with it: (1) Everyone is doing it (and likely have somewhat the same metrics in the big picture), and (2) It depends on averages which are worthless unless you have one product (one price) to sell.

Am I saying that everyone using CPA as a measurement is doing it wrong? YES!!!

Most companies selling products online have a range of prices for their products. Would you be willing to have a higher CPA for a $5,000 sale than a $50 sale? Of course you would! Chances are that you are in the 95%+ of the companies we encounter that track conversions, but not the Value (Google’s terminology for dynamic tracking of sales or profits). Picture this: Most companies with significant ad spend have had multiple people managing or involved in their campaigns over the past years, and the tracking codes usually illustrate this clearly. Action codes (tracking) get added and sometimes result in double or triple tracking on the conversion count, yet most are not tracking what matters the most (sales and/or revenues).

Do this today: Check your conversion tracking codes (in AdWords go to Reporting, Conversions) and look at what you are tracking. If you have a shopping cart on your site, find the Action that is tracking those conversions, and look in the Value column to the far right to see what the number is. If it is zero (0) or matches the number of conversions by some fixed amount, you need to fix it by inserting the variable that sums up the items in the shopping cart before checkout into your tracking code. You will now be able to associate the revenues each click generates. Why? Because this single action is the key to outsmarting your competitors when you bid for the next click (remember, Google is a live auction for companies that bid on the click from a given keyword, and the display of your ad is a function of how much you are willing to bid and your quality score combined).

Now, back to the example of the $50 product and the $5,000 product. If you did the above, now you will at least track the revenues that are resulting from your live auction bidding on a click. How in the world can you enter an auction to bid on a click if you do not know what that click is worth to you???

Knowing how much the next click is worth when you have thousands of keywords, thousands of products, and thousands of ads gets complicated very quickly and is not a task for humans. It is a task for computerized bidding. Are you doing it? Are your competitors? Find out more about Finch and how computerized bidding can help your online sales at

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Certified Knowledge. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.

How to produce video content that converts

9:00 am in Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog, Video by Peter Rigg

This is a guest post by Peter Rigg, the founder of Hazelnut Films – an animation company based in London (UK). They produce a series of re-brandable videos that help search marketing agencies to explain their services in 90 seconds.

Producing a video and placing it on a landing page will not achieve much by itself. However, the right content can give a massive boost to your conversion rate if it’s well executed. You don’t even have to hire a professional producer to achieve results – you can do it for yourself. In this post, we’re going to offer an introduction on how you can get started.

Which video style is right for you?

Different products and services lend themselves to different video styles. The key to selecting the right one is understanding the search intent of your visitors. Here are a few of the most commonly used styles in action:

Product demonstration videos

Ideal for online stores where you need the viewer to get as close as possible to experiencing a tangible product. Video demos are far more persuasive than still images or even panoramic tours, and provide a great way of converting cautious customers on the spot. Credit: Kiddicare

Explanation videos

Short, punchy, usually animated and under two minutes. An excellent way of simplifying ideas that are difficult to convey through words. Credit: Hazelnut Films

Screen capture

Visuals recorded from your screen accompanied by a voice over. This gives users a hands on feel for what it’s like to actually use your product without having to sign up. Credit: GeckoBoard

Case study videos

Real customers talking positively about your offer can be incredibly persuasive. Short case study videos help your audience to identify with your existing customer base, and connect with your products and services on a human level. Credit: Intuit

DIY production tools

Production tools are now very affordable (often free) and in most cases you can orientate yourself with the basics within a few hours. For example, you can pick up consumer video camera for under $300 and editing software such as Adobe Premiere Elements and Apple’s iMovie for under $100. Snagit and Camtasia are great for screen capturing, and CamStudio provides an easy-to-use open source alternative.

Explanation videos can be created through programs such as After Effects and 3D Studio Max, however animation is a much more complex discipline that usually takes months (or even years) to learn. However, you can you can find a range of talented producers to suit different budgets through Wistia’s 50 Grove and Commoncraft’s Explainer Network.

Our top tips

  1. Keep it brief: Web users have short attention spans. Think Vitamin increased their conversion rate by 24% through a tiny change to their sign up page – they swapped a 5 minute video for a 50 second overview. There’s a huge lesson in this.
  2. Build it around people: Viewers will be more engaged if they can relate to people in your video. Even if you’re using animation, build the story around the benefits to real people rather than merely describing your offer.
  3. Set the right tone: A sales pitch might seem like a great idea, but most viewers will switch off instantly. Try to make it educational and entertaining so that people actually enjoy watching (they might actually share it then too!).
  4. Choose a great video thumbnail: Don’t use a randomly generated thumbnail – take time to handpick a still image that’s both indicative of the content and enticing to the audience.
  5. Clear calls to action: Firstly for the user to actually play the video, and secondly, from within the video itself for the user to complete the conversion.
  6. Re-think the page layout: Forcing a video into an existing page rarely works. Re-evaluate the entire page layout and follow established landing page principles to achieve the best results.
  7. Measure and refine: Don’t embed it and forget it. Study the video stats in addition to your page analytics – how many people are actually clicking play? How much of the video are they watching? Tweak the video content and the page to further enhance your conversion rate.
  8. Utilise new player technologies: Don’t assume that YouTube is the best option. Tools such as Wistia provide excellent analytics for understanding how people interact with video, while Mixpo allows real-time customisation of your video to match the demographic and location data of individual viewers.


Video is often seen a mysterious art form that’s best left to professionals, however it’s not so daunting once you learn to see it as an extension of your conversion toolkit. You probably won’t win any Oscars for your work, but people don’t expect Hollywood production values on the web.

So, why not try some producing some content for yourself? Or if you have done already, then please share your experience with us :-)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Certified Knowledge. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.

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by brad

How to Design the Perfect Form

9:00 am in Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog, Usability by brad


Almost all conversion activities end in some type of form:

                • Ecommerce checkout
                • Contact form
                • Whitepaper download
                • Newsletter subscription
                • and many more

Yes, most forms are not well designed. The best traffic you can buy will not help you out if your form doesn’t work properly.

However, designing forms isn’t that difficult if you know the major problems to avoid. In this video you can learn some of the major pitfalls to avoid with your forms.

If you avoid the bad stuff, and increase the good stuff – then conversions will go up. And that’s what we all want – more conversions.

The video is recorded in HD. So feel free to increase the resolution to 720 and watch in full screen. If you are reading this in an RSS reader or email; you’ll probably have to click through to the site to see the video.

I hope you enjoy.

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by brad

How to Video: Getting Started with Website Optimizer is Easy

9:02 am in Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog, Video by brad

Google’s website optimizer is an amazing tool, at a great price point – free. It allows you to do A/B testing or multivariate testing of your pages to see which ones increase conversion rates.

It sounds complicated – and on the backend it is. However, it’s not that hard to get started with website optimizer and get tests up and running. Google recently did an hour and a half webinar on the Website Optimizer with a live demo of creating actual experiments so you can see how to get up and running.

If you haven’t used the optimizer yet, or you are scared to use it as it sounds too technical – then this is a great video for you to watch. It’s pretty long, so if you just want to see an actual experiment being created jump to minute 41.

If you are reading this post outside of the blog (such as in email) you may need to click through to the website to view the video.

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by brad

Integrate Phone Call Tracking and Google Analytics with Mongoose Metrics

7:53 am in Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog, PPC Tracking by brad

I recently wrote a long article at Search Engine Land on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of phone call tracking solutions. Many companies are spending a significant amount of dollars on PPC, SEO, banner ads, etc and do not understand how many phone calls those marketing channels bring in. To really optimize your advertising efforts, it is essential for most companies to track phone calls.

The article generated a lot of buzz among phone call tracking providers; which was good as it enabled me to finally catch up with Mongoose Metrics; a solution that lets you see phone calls in Google Analytics as well as other analytics solutions. I had originally heard about Mongoose Metrics from the Google Analytics blog post on GA integrations.

I talked to one of the co-founders, Jeff Tirey, who will also be speaking at Pubcon this year if you’d like to talk to him directly about their solution; and found their approach quite unique.

While some companies use a reverse proxy solution, correlate phone numbers to campaigns, or use a 1 phone number to 1 campaign solution; the conversation always comes back to pricing.

Unique Pricing Approach

Mongoose Metrics has taken a very unique approach to their pricing strategy which gets away from the cost of total phone numbers, and minutes used: it’s a session based pricing model.

This means that you do not have to determine how many numbers and minutes you will use. You can choose what types of sessions you wish to track, and then on those sessions show a call tracking number. The implications?

You can track:

  • PPC by keyword, ad copy, landing page, or anything you desire
  • SEO by keyword, engine, etc
  • Banner buys
  • Email blasts (once they hit your website)
  • Or any channel you desire

To determine pricing, determine an estimate on the number of user sessions that occur for which you wish to track, and then talk to Mongoose about pricing and implementation. It’s pretty easy.

Once a user calls one of your call tracking number, Mongoose Metrics will serve a user session to your website with your defined parameters. This lets you see your phone calls within your analytics system. You do not need to marry up a phone call tracking interface with your analytics system, their system will do some of the work for you.

If you are a small company who can’t afford a large implementation, you might consider using it for a few months – determining exactly what keywords, ad groups, engines, etc are leading to phone calls and then turn it off.

If you’re a large company; this is a solution you should at least price versus other possibilities.

Their pricing model alone makes then an interesting player in the space. Their solution (which I have not tried yet) looks like it might solve issues for many businesses attempting to understand what makes a user pick up the phone and call them.

Optimizing for No Phone Calls

During our call, Jeff mentioned an interesting approach one of their customers’ is using to not receive phone calls. Yes, they do not want phone calls. The customer is a web based knowledge help system. Their goal is for their customer’s to find their answers on the web based system and not have to call in for help. Therefore, they examine the searches and pages which are resulting in phone calls in order to make their knowledge based system better. Creative.

Mongoose Metrics Screenshots:

Phone Call by Keyword (Click to enlarge):


Phone Call data in Google Analytics (Click to enlarge):



If you’re in the market for a phone call tracking solution, I’d recommend including Mongoose Metrics in the conversation. They do have an API; but I didn’t go into much details as to it’s specs.

As with all website optimization solutions, you need to determine what you need to learn to make actionable business decisions – and then find the best solution that helps you gain the proper insight. They won’t be the best fit for everyone; but if you want an easy pricing model, phone call tracking, and/or analytics integration; include them in the conversation.

As usual; none of these posts are paid endorsements. I found the solution interesting and thought it was worth raising awareness of a different type of call tracking solution.

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by brad

4 Hours of Video that Will Increase Your Conversion Rates

5:35 am in Analytics, Conversion Optimization, PPC Marketing Blog, Usability by brad

Google has quite a few excellent YouTube channels that are relegated to the back corner of YouTube in favor of short, non-informational clips. If you ever want to see all of Google’s YouTube Channels, you can subscribe to the bgTheory YouTube channel, and look through our subscriptions as we subscribe to all the official Google channels. 

There are four excellent videos that range from 30 minutes to more than an hour, which contain excellent tips on creating, testing, and analyzing landing pages to increase conversions. Learn form both experts in the field to Google employees about possible ways to increase conversion rates.

The first video is by Tim Ash. If you like the video and would like to learn more, Tim, Brian Massey, and myself are conducting a training session at Pubcon in November.

Enjoy the videos.





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