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If you’ve been having trouble hitting your PPC Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for the business, or if you are hitting it but you’re not sure why you’re not seeing growth, this could be because you’re working towards the wrong metric.

Getting the right measurement for your sales target together with the right top-level number can transform your performance.


What efficiency KPI is best for you?

Here’s a basic outline of what options you have:

ROI: The amount of money you have made from your ads divided by the money you have spent on them. You come out with a ratio (e.g. $200,000 revenue ÷ $80,000 ad cost = ROI of 2.5)

Cost of Sale (CoS): Essentially the same equation as the above but reversed (spend divided by Revenue) and is a percentage number.

Gross Margin: The profit percentage made from selling a product or service after deducting expenses (e.g. manufacturing costs) often called “Cost of Goods Sold” or COGS before you deduct the cost of ads. This can be used in lieu of outright revenue in the above two metrics for a more restrictive (but technically more accurate from a bottom line perspective) efficiency figure.

Cost-Per-Action/Acquisition (CPA): The average amount of money spent on advertising needed to see a conversion (or specific action).

Cost-Per-Lead (CPL): The average amount of money spent on advertising in order to generate a new lead.

Lifetime Value (LTV): The specifics of this can be calculated in a number of ways but it essentially is the financial value of a user over the long-term, not just the first conversion. The customization of this number can be through if you want to factor in costs, the timeframe you choose to use and whether there is a fixed or ongoing period of relationship with the customer. This too can be used as a substitute for Revenue in the efficiency metrics.



For many businesses, it’s better not to just look at one number. If you do, you risk harming yourself in another metric. For instance, beating a CPA target is easy, you can do that in a heartbeat but doing it this way will mean you reduce your total volume. The hard part – the bit that draws on expertise – is to both reduce CPA and grow conversion volumes (or revenue).

The other part of choosing the efficiency metric, is hugely dependent on what your business is, it’s business model and the pattern of its profitability. In other words, ask yourself:

  • Do I sell a small or large range of products?
  • Are the price points across the products a wide or narrow spectrum?
  • Are the expenses I incur hugely variable from product to product?
  • How likely is repeat business?
  • How long is the buying decision process?
  • How well known is my brand?
  • How predictable is my profit margin?

The more static your margin numbers and product range, the more suitable the likes of CPA will be. The more variable the Average Order Value (AOV) or customer lifetime length could be, the more likely ROI/CoS will make sense. But even then, a single, top-level number might distort your account development and it may be better to stick to product category-level (or your business’s equivalent) efficiency targets instead.

If you are going to go for an ROI or CoS target, then ideally you will not have a marketing budget limit. Profitable is profitable and if you’re beating ROI targets, then by definition, you’re making money on whatever you have spent, be it $100 or $1m.

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So you need to weigh up what level of efficiency metric you want to use as a target but which also does not need to compromise your growth potential. If your PPC account has been running for long enough, you might just have the data to identify this magic nexus.

Use as many data points as you can and set up a scatter chart of Revenue (or gross margin) by CPA/ROI/CoS/ROI/CPL and see what patterns you get. You will probably want to look at Spend vs efficiency in the same way for other reasons.

It’s possible you’ll see a place where revenue plateaus or peaks at a range of the efficiency metric before you see diminishing returns. But beyond this, you can use the data you have to see what the increment costs are of getting incremental revenue/sales by using your real world data and Google’s budget and bid estimation tools.



However, there is another approach to metrics that is too easily overlooked. The volume can grow or be fine but the efficiency is worse – but the account is not actually performing worse. We explain this little conundrum in this blog post.

Knowing this could also help you choose target numbers as well as the KPI you want to aim for.

Do you have more questions about how to choose the correct efficiency KPI for you? Tweet at us @ESV_Digital_UK or follow us on LinkedIn.


Mobile is huge. As we know from “Mobilegeddon”, there is no denying the power that mobile has over an advertiser’s target audience because these users are incorporating smartphone devices into their lives more with each passing day. Serving ads to these mobile users can make all the difference to persuading them to convert on your site, whether it’s on their desktop or not.

This is our second instalment of our three-part blog series on PPC device types: desktop, tablet, and mobile. We will look at areas like bid management, ad types, messaging of ads, ad extensions, landing page design, and understanding Search Engine Results Page (SERP) layout differences. In this segment, we will discuss mobile, how it has changed the PPC landscape, and how you can get the most out of the opportunity it presents.

Best Performance Tips: Mobile

Mobile Preferred Ads

Mobile Preferred Ads is a Google Adwords ad format that allows you to cater your messages to smartphones. Using a Mobile Preferred Ads improves your rank in AdWords auctions as long as you customize the Call-To-Action to the mobile user (e.g. “Call or go online”) and have a mobile-friendly landing page. In addition, advertisers can separately test mobile landing pages from desktop versions and utilise mobile-specific URLs (e.g. to trunk the traffic to the right experience for their device.

App Promotion Ads

If you have a mobile app to promote that you’re excited about, you can target the most appropriate keywords with App Promotion ads. These take users to their phone OS’s app store (Apple or Android) – and to the exact page of the store for your app so it can be immediately downloaded – instead of your website. You should use this carefully based on your company goals but it is a great way of promoting an app that could be a central revenue stream for your business whilst running different ads for desktop users.

Mobile-Centric User Experience

Just because someone doesn’t convert on their mobile device doesn’t mean they are not motivated, through research, to ultimately make a purchase. From our previous blog about Desktop users, we know that many mobile site visitors will initiate their researching process on their mobile device when they have some downtime, but they will continue and possibly follow through with a conversion on a desktop. However, the needs of a user that is willing to convert on their mobile device can also be quite different from a desk-bound, physically static user. For example, a user is searching for “Chinese food San Diego”, if they searched on a PC would probably be interested in ordering for delivery, whilst a mobile user is more likely to be out and about already and looking for a restaurant to go to or a carry out option and, in this case, proximity to them is very important. Also, the conversion experience on a mobile site must be conducive to the fact that to navigate, one must prod the screen with one’s finger rather than using a mouse or touchpad. So easily tappable buttons and options are a must. A click-to-call phone number makes a big difference too, both as an ad extension but also on your site.

Call Only Campaigns

This is an option that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t but is, nevertheless, a custom mobile ad form that, crucially, does not require a website in order for you to use it. You write a normal text ad for search in these campaigns but the only action a user can perform is to call your business. Calls tend to convert at a much better rate than clicks, so this could be very useful for you, but much more so if you have no website – or not one from which you can generate conversions.

Local Inventory Ads

We cover this in more depth in this blog post but these are terrific if you have a network of stores and want to close sales to people searching on their phones for items that you sell. You can offer what is, in real-time, available in their local store, minutes away, and have them buy online but pick it up immediately.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are incredibly important for mobile PPC campaigns as they are to desktop PPC campaigns. Ad extensions allow you to either add a clickable phone number so users can call you directly, add a location link so users can immediately get directions to your business, and add sitelinks to link to specific pages on your site. Because the layout of SERPs on mobile phones is now biased towards the sponsored ads, if you use extensions, you get to dominate even more screen real estate and potentially boost your CTR. Indeed, not using such extensions can cause Google to charge you more for clicks.

How ads are shown on Google on the Mobile View:

Users typically have more than one device type and use them interchangeably every day: research from the Multi-Screen World Research report of 2012 found that 90% of online consumers who own multiple devices switch between them to accomplish different types of tasks. This illustrates the importance of creating an organized and targeted user experience across various devices – especially mobile.
In the screenshot below you can see how dominated by the ads the SERP can be on a phone. You’ll see only ads here, with 2 mobile-specific ads, one of which has a click-to-call link and a third ad that seems not especially mobile-focused.



There is significantly more to targeting mobile users, but this article serves to provide you with a grounding in the core differences, strengths and opportunities mobile marketing offers businesses. Mobile traffic (and the share of traffic that is on mobile devices) is continuing to grow exponentially so not being there is no longer an option. If you’re looking to take your mobile marketing strategy to the next level, send us an email at


Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns can bring your business the success it needs to grow in this ever-evolving digital world, but it can also bring you a headache if you find that if you are actually losing money on your PPC investment. In order to ensure you won’t lose money on your next PPC campaign or turn around performance on your current one, you should go back to the drawing board and ensure that you have the three PPC basics down: Ad Copy, PPC Bids, and Landing Page. For any PPC campaign, having a basic understanding of these three basic elements down will allow for your campaign to stop losing money and start gaining conversions.


1.Your Ad Copy

Ad Copy is the message that attracts users to read and click your advertisement. Using terms that clearly describe your offering and drive a strong selling point are often the terms that see more clicks and conversions. The marketing message (e.g. “10% off”) must be consistent throughout the entire ad click-to-landing page process so as not to confuse users because they may be deterred by an inconsistent message. A consistent message throughout the click-to-landing page process will boost conversion rates.

In addition, the relevance between the specific keyword you bid for with the wording in the ads (and landing page) is extremely important. What this boils down to is to try your best to feature the whole keyword in the ad, if at all possible. This will only be possible if you have only the most tightly related keywords in the same ad group (keywords which share the same ad set). Commonly, this is 10 or fewer keywords and for the highest-spending keywords, just one keyword per ad group.

Not only will improving CTR through better ads increase your sales volumes but you will also pay less for each click (through Google’s Quality Score algorithm) and so make more profit on each conversion you get.


2. Your PPC Bid and Ad Position

An ad’s position on a Google search result page is based on the PPC campaign’s Ad Rank. The Ad Rank is a combination of the bid, the quality of the ad and landing page, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats (AdWordsHelp). In order to get a prominent search ad placement, the Ad Rank needs to meet a minimum threshold of qualifications, mentioned below.

Ads at the top of a page generally have the following qualities:
High relevance: The ad text and landing page are relevant to a user viewing your ad campaign.
Steady performance over time: The ad consistently generates clicks over the length of the campaign.
Competitive CPC bids: The ad’s bid is competitive with other advertisers.

However, some advertisers believe that one should never bid for the very top spot on a search result page. There are limited ad spaces on each search, with a maximum of 7 text ads on Google. Research shows that conversion rates do not radically change by position but CTR certainly does along with CPCs. Therefore, when bidding on keywords that do not incorporate your own brand, it is best to cater bids to a mixture of visibility and efficiency (i.e. if you are paying $0.80 for a click but the conversion rate means you lose money unless you spend $0.60 per click, you must either increase the conversion rate to make $0.80 clicks profitable or reduce your bids to ensure you do, in fact, pay no more than $0.60 per click).

If you are new to PPC and you have a limited budget that you consistently hit, increasing your bids will reduce your traffic. Therefore, if you are ranked above 3rd place (1 or 2) and you are hitting the budget, reducing bids (and, therefore, CPCs) should have the effect of increasing traffic simply because if clicks cost less, you get more clicks for the same budget. Simultaneously, of course, paying less for those clicks will make sales more profitable too.


3. Your Landing Pages

The landing pages on your website are the most important content a user views in their conversion process. These should be the main aspects you should consider when setting up pages for PPC purposes:

  • The message on the landing page has to exactly match the message on the ad as to not confuse or deter the user from furthering their purchasing process on your website.
  • Ensure the call to action on the page (buy, sign up, download, request a trial) is crystal clear and extremely prominent so a user knows exactly what the next step should be. Again, any user confusion in this matter can crush conversion rates.
  • Make the page engaging, pleasant and easy to understand and look at.
  • Provide enough information for the user to make a decision as to whether to buy.
  • Minimise distractions that could take a user away from the buying process, keep the page low on such “noise.”
  • Make the page load quickly and be compatible across browsers; a slow-loading page kills conversions.
  • Provide at least one engagement option short of buying for a user to choose. This can be signing up for a newsletter or reading reviews. These actions can be measured and having an email address, for instance, can be invaluable. These actions can be used for other remarketing projects down the line to make more use of the visitors you get through PPC.


Test and Tweak

Once your ad campaign has touched on the 3 basics mentioned above, it is important to constantly test and tweak page content, bids, keyword lists and ad copy. However, in order to understand the success of a change, features of an ad campaign should only be changed one at a time.

Medium or large enterprise and need help defining your PPC campaign goals? Send us an email at


In the last few days, Google has announced they have united the ad layouts for text ads on Google search results pages across devices. This means that there will now normally be 3 ads above the organic results but none to the side other than Google Shopping ads plus some knowledge graph ads.

For “highly commercial” searches, there will be a 4th ad shown above the organic results. There will also be 3 further ads shown below the organic results. These ads at the bottom are unlikely to get a lot of traffic, however.

In addition, the number of sitelinks will be reduced to 2 per ad but they will more often be extended (which is a sitelink title with 2 description lines).

The main advantage to advertisers is that the average rank metric will be more representative of rank across devices because all devices will show the same number of ad positions.

There are challenges presented here too, however, in that the total number of ad positions is being shrunk dramatically from 11 to 3 or 4 in effect. This ramps up competition for the auction – in a supply and demand sense – and so logic would dictate that CPCs will rise. However, we don’t know if there are other algorithmic changes that are taking place which may temper these rises.

The other factor is that a greater emphasis will be given to Shopping results in commercial searches because there’ll be so many fewer non-shopping ads.

As a result, we will have to keep a close eye on client accounts over the next few days and assess the impact. If you are responsible for running Google AdWords ads, you should also do the same.

As the fallout from this becomes clearer, we’ll blog more about this.

Google’s AdWords Customer Match lets advertisers upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. This feature has been available since September of last year; however, few have realised the untapped potential this tool provides. This AdWords enhancement comes from Google’s push to cater to advertiser first-party data in order to drive clicks through search ads rather than organic results.

First, the advertiser uploads an email list to their AdWords campaign and once the campaign is launched, Google matches the email addresses against those of signed-in users. The individual addresses are hashed and anonymized because Customer Match was designed around user privacy. This advertising method presents the advertiser with a unique opportunity to set bids and create ads specifically geared to audiences built from their in-house email lists. Additionally, Similar Audiences for Customer Match lists can be targeted on YouTube and Gmail.

Another product that has been available for a little while, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), allows users to bid on and serve ads tailored to custom audiences of previous visitors to their site when they search on Google. These remarketing lists are built with cookies, which users can delete or block, and aren’t suited for mobile, and so, advertisers can miss a proportion of site users. However, email addresses and user sign-ins are more reliable and can be tracked across devices, making AdWords Customer Match so valuable.

AdWords Similar Audiences already exist for retargeting lists on the Google Display Network. The audience lists built this way are based on user browsing patterns on sites in the Display Network as well as contextual comparisons to users in the advertiser’s traditional remarketing lists. This data is used to find new users with shared interests and characteristics. Now, those Similar Audiences lists can also be built based on the activity of CRM audiences.

To get started with AdWords Customer Match, advertisers perform the upload of their email lists to audiences within AdWords. There is no limit to the number of lists you can upload, however, you have to be careful when using it, as there are rules that prevent you being able to use this feature with impunity.

The core benefit of AdWords Customer Match is the enablement of utilizing an advertiser’s wealth of first-party data they have accumulated. You, as an advertiser, can make these lists as large as you want, and segment them in any way you want – the possibilities are endless. Since you have a suite of information for each email address (shipping address, name, website behaviour), you can peg patterns (or value) to each Customer Match audience that you construct which allows you to refine ad messaging and bidding.

Our platform (ESV Digital) supports Customer Match lists, along with other forms of remarketing audiences, so that we can scale up remarketing efforts and enhance granularity of structure. Interested in using your first-party data? Send us an email to