[originally posted on Search Engine Watch by Miranda Miller]

Ad optimization is key to lower CPC prices, higher click-through rates (CTR) and conversions, and a greater ROI. Even the lowest budget campaigns must be scalable and balance top-notch creative with ongoing analysis and optimization.


Small and large PPC advertisers alike struggle to find just the right formula for their paid search campaigns. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but best practices can help any campaign; to that end, Marin Software and BoostCTR have shared tips for marketers looking to optimize the performance of their paid search campaigns.


Back in December, Marin and BoostCTR joined forces in a partnership that brought the power and scale of Boost’s crowdsourced ad copywriting and optimization army to Marin’s online marketing platform. Each published a case study sharing results of their work with W3i, an application network and joint client. Through their partnership, Marin and Boost were able to lift W3i’s CTR and conversion by 27 percent and 45 percent, respectively.


Here are Marin and BoostCTR’s top eight recommendations.


Diversity in Creative & Testing


According to BoostCTR, you should:

1. Get multiple writers to write for the same ad group. This allows you to test multiple perspectives simultaneously.


2. Attract attention using DKI (dynamic keyword insertion) in headlines.


3. Test stronger calls to action (“Search in Seconds,” as seen above).


4. Test benefits vs. features. Shift the focus to user benefits to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”


5. Test multiple theories to find out what works and what doesn’t. Once you find that you are gaining traction with a theory, disseminate the insights learned across other similar ad groups.


BoostCTR has become a major player in ad content optimization, with more than $250 million in ad spend to their credit. At the end of February, they launched Boost Enterprise to combine human creativity and optimization with advanced technology for larger-scale advertisers. Their self-serve platform is still available for SMBs, offering access to their network of over 500 copywriters/optimizers, automated split testing, and other features.


Ad Group Optimizers & Goal-Based Bidding

W3i uses Marin Software to manage their pool of over 165,000 keywords and hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in spend. In a one-year period, they lifted conversions from paid search by 45 percent, which in turn drove revenue from paid search up 28 percent.


Marin recommends:

6. Use an ad group optimizer to evaluate the relationship between creative and keywords within ad groups. This will provide you with a workflow to do things like clustering keywords by quality score, moving keywords with low CTR and quality to new groups, etc.


7. Set up goal based bidding. This will allow you to maximize performance objectives, such as cost per lead, ROAS, margin, or custom targets.


8. Set up performance filters and alerts to help you manage large-scale campaigns by exception. This lets you identify high-impact keywords and creative for analysis, and get alerted when performance drops or spikes in order to address issues proactively.


Marin offers one of the more complete online marketing management platforms in Marin Next, launched in September 2011. That release added prioritized recommendations and workflows for previously unidentified opportunities to their previous campaign management edition. Marin Next is designed for large-scale advertisers and agencies in social, paid search, and display.