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Using AdWords Segments To Increase PPC ROI

mackey-melissa
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Most of you are aware of the recent improvements to the Google AdWords user interface (UI), including the ability to run reports in the Campaigns tab. These are great time-savers for PPC managers. However, there's another new and little-known feature called "Segments" that can really take your campaign performance to the next level.

The Segment option allows you to review your campaign performance data in a number of ways:

  • Network: Google Search, Search Partners, and Content.
  • Click type: URL clicks or Click to Call.
  • Device: Computer or mobile device.
  • Experiment: Campaign Experiment results.
  • Day: Performance by day.
  • Week: Performance by week.
  • Month: Performance by month.
  • Quarter: Performance by quarter.
  • Year: Performance by year.
  • Day of week: Performance by day of week (Sunday through Monday), regardless of date.

All data is displayed for the date range selected in the AdWords UI. For example, if you've selected "Last 30 days" as the date range, segment data will display for that time period.

You'll find the Segment option just under the Campaign Management tabs (Ad Group, Ads, Keyword, etc.):

Segment Campaign Management

So, how do you make the leap from "interesting" to "actionable" when it comes to segment data?

Focus on Underperforming Campaigns, Ad Groups, or Keywords

Sure, you could slice and dice every possible data point in your account, but most of us don't have that kind of time. Instead, start at a high level.

Do you have one campaign in your account that's performing worse than the rest? Is one ad group falling behind the curve? Is there a keyword or set of keywords that are highly relevant, yet aren't converting? Start the segmenting process here.

Use Time-related Segment Data to Spot Trends

Let's say performance for one of your top ad groups has declined recently, but you're not sure when the decline began. Start with the "last 30 days" date range, and then segment the data by week. You may be able to pinpoint the week when things went south. You may even be able to associate a particular event that coincided with the decrease.

For example, one of our clients' PPC campaign results fell off the map over Labor Day weekend. We were able to use segmentation data to discover that performance was steady until Labor Day, when it fell off the map.

We then looked at segmented data for Labor Day 2009, and saw that performance fell off during that week last year, too. Based on this, we recommended staying the course with PPC, rather than making huge changes to ads and keywords.

Sure enough, performance rebounded a week later. Without segmentation, we might have made changes that we'd regret later.

Regularly Review Network and Device Performance to Find Under- and Overachievers

For some of our clients, the Search Partner Network performs better than Google Search. For others, it performs much worse. With the Segment feature, we can find this out in seconds.

The same thing goes for performance on computers versus mobile devices. Some of our clients get great results from mobile; for others, it's a waste of money. Again, we know in seconds which clients fall into which category.

Side note: It's a PPC best practice to use separate campaigns for computers and mobile devices. That said, serving ads on all devices for a short time acts as a test bed to determine whether it's worthwhile to set up a separate mobile campaign.

Review Day-of-Week Data to Find Under- and Overachievers

It takes a little more time to analyze day-of-week data, but it can pay off in a big way. Segmenting performance data by day of week can yield some shocking insight.

It's common for B2B advertisers to discover that weekends are a complete waste of PPC budget. Not only do the hottest prospects do most of their searching during the week, but most B2B customer service departments work normal business hours. So even if a hot prospect is searching over the weekend and finds your ads, they won't hear back from you for a couple days -- or, they may wait until Monday morning, do another search, and click on your ad again (doubling your cost per conversion in the process). If you're a B2B advertiser, look long and hard at the weekends to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

The same thing goes for B2C advertisers -- although the weekends may not be your problem. One of our clients advertises apartment rentals. Their worst day is Wednesday. It makes sense, if you think about it: people go look at apartments over the weekend, and follow up online Monday or Tuesday. Or, they start looking on Thursday and Friday for apartments to visit over the weekend. Wednesday is no-man's land -- and doesn't convert as well for the client.

Armed with this segment data, you can use Ad Scheduling to turn off your ads on days that don't convert well for your business.

If you haven't already tried the Segment feature, go do it now -- and watch your ROI increase!

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