Search Engine Marketing can be a great way to reach your target audience, but can take a significant financial toll on a company. Whether using Google AdWords, Bing Ads or any other SEM platform, you want to make the most of the money you spend. What tactics can you use to improve your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), CPC (Cost Per Click) and CTR (Click-Through Rate) performance to maximize your return on investment?

Lower your CPA by improving the likelihood that a visitor will complete a given action

Your CPA is the price you pay for each desired action by a user

Your CPA or Cost-per-Acquisition rate is the price you are paying per conversion or action. These conversions are set by you, and can be as varied as visiting a specific page, signing up for a mailing list or downloading a piece of trial software. Calculating CPA is as simple as dividing the cost spent on the campaign by the number of conversions that happened. Lowering this cost helps you get more conversions for the same budget, giving you a better return on investment. What strategies should you be using to lower your Cost-per-Acquisition rate?

Landing Pages: Dedicated landing pages for specific keywords and phrases can improve your CPA. Visitors are more likely to stay and complete actions if the page they visit is related to what they are searching for. Relevant landing pages also boost your Quality Score.

First CTA: Make sure your fist call-to-action is above the fold. Meaning make sure that the action you want users to take is visible when they first open the page, without having to scroll down. This is often done in the form of a button or link to “Download Now” or “Sign Up Today”, tailored to the specific action you want leads to engage in.

Secondary CTA: A secondary call-to-action should be placed below the fold, if your landing page has content below the fold and visitors may lose the ability to click on the initial call-to-action as they read on.

Improve your CPC to raise traffic without increasing budget

Lowering your CPC rate boosts your traffic without increasing budget

The CPC or Cost-per-Click rate is the price you pay each time somebody clicks on your ad. If you are using a CPM (Cost-per-mille) or Cost-per-Impression structure (with mille being latin for 1,000), you can calculate the CPC by dividing the number of clicks in each CPM by the cost of the CPM. You may also simply be paying per click, without having impressions counted. Lowering your CPC rate will bring more visitors to your site while spending the same amount on search engine and other forms of digital marketing.

The overall cost of search engine marketing has been growing strongly in recent years. In 2016, the average cost-per-click was $2.14, up from $1.58 in 2015 and $1.02 in 2014. These rises are well ahead of inflation, and the cost of search engine marketing is increasing every year. It is therefore essential to keep your CPC rates as low as possible. How can you do that?

Vigilance: Even daily monitoring of your CPC bids may be necessary to maximize your CPC and make sure you are getting the most from your SEM campaigns. Watch to see how your positions adjust as a result of bids, and lower them where you can. A second or third place ranking can still bring traffic that converts without exhausting your budget as quickly.

Negative Keywords: Maintaining a negative keyword list is essential in making sure that those who click on your ads are potential leads. SEM services like AdWords and Bing Ads will show you what specific phrase people searched for when they saw and clicked your ad. Make sure that these people are searching for products or services that you are providing, and not something completely different.

Relevance: This is the most critical thing to focus on when creating and managing your SEM campaigns. You must ensure that the ad and the landing page you are sending leads to are relevant to what you are searching for. The more granular the better, but also the more time consuming. You can of course use only one keyword per ad group, but that’s where you have to make a cost-benefit analysis. By keeping your ads and landing pages relevant, you also improve your Quality Score and increase your CTR (Click-through Rate), thereby also lowering your CPC.

Improve CTR with relevant and engaging ads

Relevant and engaging ads result in higher Click-through rates

Your CTR or Click-through Rate is the rate at which people who view your ad click on it and visit your landing page. You can calculate CTR by dividing the number of times your ad is clicked by the number of times it is displayed. You can improve your click-through rate in the following ways:

Special Offer CTA: Put a special offer as a call-to-action in your ad to entice visitors to click. Offering a free trial, product, or service encourages visitors to click and examine what is on offer. We ourselves offer free digital marketing assistance to get you started.

Include Keywords: By including your target keywords in your ad copy and URL you are reinforcing the idea that clicking the ad will solve the problem the searcher is trying to solve. Instead of simply providing a URL like you can show a URL like when people search for SEO. The target URL may of course be completely different than the display URL.

Write Compelling Ads: A simple statement, but this is the lifeblood of successful search engine marketing. Writing good ads results in people clicking on them. This is something that can be accomplished through trial and error, in the form of A/B testing. Use ad rotation settings to try multiple ads, and learn which ones are successful and which ones are not.

These are just a few of the myriad of strategies that are used by search engine marketing professionals to maximize their SEM performance and return on investment. Vigilance is critical throughout, as is testing. You will need to pay attention to your performance, and make adjustments regularly, to ensure you are delivering the most relevant and engaging ads to your potential leads. Trial and error is required here, as is keeping detailed records of statistics to know which strategies work and which ones do not.

It’s also important not to ignore the importance of proper reporting and data visualization. Google Analytics is a powerful tool to analyze data, but can often be overwhelming. An effective SEM strategy will also include easy to read data visualization to help you identify successful strategies and target markets and audiences, while highlighting problem areas.

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