In our last post we looked at how to decrease the CPA (cost per action) of your PPC campaigns, without compromising conversions. By default we talked a lot about increasing conversions as a way to cut your PPC expense and we ended with a brief note about conversion rate optimisation (CRO).

As promised we’re back this time with a closer look at conversion rate optimisation and this is one strategy every PPC advertiser, search marketer and webmaster should practise. Conversions are the most profitable interactions between your brand and its target audience, so it goes without saying you want to maximise this number.

Tracking conversions with Google AdWords and Analytics
Google AdWords works best when you combine it with Analytics and conversion tracking is right up there with the most valuable tools for your PPC campaign. Setting up the two platforms is actually quite simple – but not without its quirks – so check out this starter guide from PPC Hero to get yourself up and running.

Once you’re tracking conversions with AdWords you gain access to a wealth of data which tells you when, where (on your website) and from which devices you get the most conversions – plus so much more. These segments are incredibly useful in pointing out where your PPC campaigns are doing well and (more importantly) where they aren’t.

Take action with A/B testing
Simply watching metrics won’t increase your PPC profits though; to make that happen you need to take action, but you also want to know your changes are having the right effect. This is where something called A/B testing will transform your PPC strategy and you can use the same technique to make your website and wider marketing efforts more profitable too.
A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) simply runs two versions of the same thing – in this case an ad or landing page – to see which version gets the most conversions. Basically, you run the original along side a modified version and whichever one proves more profitable is for keeps.

When it comes to PPC you generally want to start by testing the following of each ad:
• Headlines
• Body text
• Links
• Keywords

Once you get the hang of A/B testing and you’re happy with the above you can use the same technique to optimise your landing pages too. These are vital to closing the deal after users click your ad and this shift from ad to page optimisation is a great introduction to CRO for your entire site – something every webmaster should get involved in.

Best practices for A/B testing
There are a number of best practices for A/B testing PPC campaigns and the key theme is to make sure your data is reliable:
• Always test variations simultaneously so any external influences (and there are many) affect both equally.
• One big influence is the calendar and, depending on the nature of your business, events like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and even the change of seasons can affect conversions – so keep this in mind.
• Test one thing at a time so you know what is responsible for specific results.
• Don’t end your tests too quickly or your data could point you in the wrong direction. It may take a few thousand impressions (depending on your average) to get an accurate picture.
• Run tests often enough to keep your PPC campaigns moving in the right direction.
• Make sure your data is reliable and trust it – don’t go with your gut feeling when good data tells you something different.

More on CRO and A/B testing soon
After such a brief introduction to CRO and A/B testing it only seems fair we spend a bit more time to discuss the pair in more detail – so keep an eye out for our future blog posts and get in touch if you have any questions in the meantime.