Save Money, Increase Sales, Eat Waffles!

It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks and I’ve been quietly hoping I might get a waffle iron. Now with any purchase or indeed decision to seed an idea into the minds of my friends and family I usually find myself conducting a lot of research. This research will touch upon product sites, review sites, coupon sites and comparison engines – before coming away with an idea of exactly what I want and exactly what I should expect to pay for it.
This presented a thought, and I am sure I am not alone in thinking this, but almost everything I look at on the web I analyse with a marketer’s hat. I analyse what it’s doing, what it’s not doing and how it can do better – and my search for ‘Buy Waffle Iron’ cemented my thoughts of widespread inexperience within the paid search industry .

The following shots document the first page paid results for the term “buy waffle Iron” from Google and, using only these paid listings, I reviewed each of them from the initial expectation of the PPC ad copy to the respective landing pages. As a customer, I accessed whether these ‘ads’ and landing pages fulfilled my needs in terms of product descriptions, price and availability. The results follow.


Position 1: TheAluminiumShop.co.uk
Ad copy: The addition of ‘top brands’ is somewhat generic and doesn’t really add value to my search.
Landing page: There is nothing above the fold about Waffle Irons, and after scanning the homepage, I wondered exactly what I had clicked. (Visit landing page)
Action: Immediately Dropped out
My rating (0/10)


Position 2: Amazon.co.uk
Ad copy: The addition of ‘top brands’ is somewhat generic and doesn’t really add value to my search. But free delivery is good, especially for my heavy waffle iron.
Landing page: I am immediately drawn to the picture of the Prima Waffle Maker and the inclusion of price and availablility encourage me to click and “find out more”. Aside from this product, the entire page is full of “waffle” related goods. (Visit landing page)
Action: Went to product page and read reviews.
My rating (6/10)


Position 3: HouseMakers.co.uk
Ad copy: Excellent. Providing a brand name so I know what to look for, it’s available today and I can use Google checkout.
Landing page: Displayed exactly what was promised. The landing page was simple but effective, with a good title, breadcrumb trail and a prominent call to action.
(Visit landing page)
Action: Clicked on “more info”, enlarged the image, noted the price and read the excellent features list.
My rating (7/10)


Position 4: UKEquipmentDirect.co.uk
Ad copy: I didn’t want a crepe or pancake machine! But they do promise the lowest prices, so no harm in looking.
Landing page: Generic search page with no clear title or description, just displaying the crepe and pancake machine search results. No mention of a waffle. But the ‘buy now buttons’ and the display of availability if nice. (Visit landing page)
Action: Dropped out.
My rating (3/10)


Position 5: ThomasGolf.com.
Ad copy: Again I didn’t want Iron, and to be honest I am not entirely clear what this ad is about!
Landing page: Ah.. It’s about Golf clubs.. And here is me thinking Thomas Golf was the owner’s name. (Visit landing page)
Action: Immediately dropped out.
My rating (0/10)


Position 6: LQCommodities.com.
Ad copy: Great! At this rate I’m never going to get a waffle iron. Use your Negative keywords!
Landing page: Very content heavy, and nothing to inspire me to read on. (Visit landing page)
Action: Immediately dropped out.
My rating (0/10)


Position 7: Shopzilla.co.uk
Ad copy: “from over 4000 UK consumer rated stores”, seems somewhat generic as I’m sure I’m not going to be present with 4000 stores. Ability to compare prices is good though.
Landing page: I’m made to wait, whilst the prices are compared, but the landing page does display 2 retailers, the price and free delivery. Although this is only a comparison site, and not a retailer themselves, the call to actions are clear, it’s just a shame there aren’t more retailers. (Visit landing page)
Action: Clicked on both retailers, but I’m still not sure which waffle iron is right for my needs.
My rating (4/10)


Position 8: DealTime.co.uk
Ad copy: Like it. They’ve repeated the term which has somewhat reinforced the ad and it looks like they’ve got a dedicated page.
Landing page: The images are almost below the fold as I’m presented with ads, ads and more ads. Not happy about this… but it does display 3 waffle irons of various prices along with prominent “see it” buttons. This, like Shopzilla, is another comparison engine, but I really don’t think it assisted in my search. (Visit landing page)
Action: Had a look at retailers, but then dropped out.
My rating (4/10)

I had to question how these results would influence my future search behaviour. Would I exclude or subconsciously filter out particular retailers as a result of their landing pages? and if I did, what about other users and their perception of the brand?

Presumably, any online business wants to maintain or enhance their brand equity and maximise conversions whilst reducing the cost of these acquisition through their paid search, but why – as the evidence has suggested – are businesses still aimlessly ‘reacting’ to paid search competition without thinking about converting this traffic efficiently?

Within this in mind I would welcome any of the abovementioned retailers including The Aluminium Shop, UK Equipment Direct, ThomasGolf.com and LQCommodities.com to get in touch with either Amelia or I here at Leapfrogg so we can set up your campaigns correctly. In the meantime however, here are my top 5 tips to increase conversions and get your cost per acquisition down!

1. Take users as far along the buying cycle as possible:
Amazon did this particularly well as they directed me to a list of suitable Waffle Irons, which I could sort by price and then purchase. Now ignoring the fact that their landing page for this ad directed me to the Kitchen page, it was a page populated only with ‘Waffle Irons’, and by doing so I didn’t have to sort through lots of other kitchen products to find exactly what I wanted. The No1forFun website really let me done on this, and as a result, I left immediately.
You should use landing pages to your full advantage through the use of ‘headlines’ to grab attention, (Something only HouseMakers.co.uk did well), high resolution images to stimulate and enhance the comprehensive product description and prominent calls to action (which should be clear and located above the fold.

2. Increase the relevance of your ads:
In light of Google’s Quality Score it’s in your favour to ensure your ads are relevant, not only to the keywords in that ad group but also to the landing page for that ad. If I were promoting “Waffle Irons” I would ensure the keywords I were targeting were specific, and it directed the user to the specific Waffle Iron page of the site. By doing so you are presenting the user with the best quality result, and Google, with reward you for this, in terms of lower click costs.

3. Make use of negative keywords:
If you are selling Waffle Irons then include terms like shoes (Nike Waffle Racers), scrap (Scrap Iron) and Golf (golf iron) in your negative keywords to ensure your ads aren’t displayed for irrelevant searches. Further information can be found at Google and by Richard Ball at the Search Engine Guide.

4. Don’t forget that small is beautiful (and profitably):
A larger number of small but incredibly focused ad groups are more likely to bring you a lower cost per acquisition than generic groups that encapsulate multiple terms. Relevance is the key, so don’t bunch all of your keywords together in generic group. Spend time creating specific groups for each product, and direct the user to their respective product pages.

5. Don’t always be the retailer:
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back from being the retailer and actually act as a customer. By taking the time to search for your products within the major engines, review your landing pages, the checkout facility and the general site navigation you can really begin to recognise where you might be falling down and where users might be dropping out.
1,500 daily unique visits is all very well, but a 1% conversion rate suggests massive room for improvement.

In conclusion:
The major search engines want the best quality results for their demanding customers, so the best advice has to be ‘give it to them’. In doing so, you’re fulfilling need and, it’s inevitable that your traffic, and more importantly, your conversions, will increase!


2 Responses to Save Money, Increase Sales, Eat Waffles!

  1. You’re absolutely right, as advertisers jump in on the action without professional or qualified expertise they are reducing the quality of the results and increasing the cost of their campaigns. Anyone can set up a PPC campaign with ease, but it takes another to set read through Google’s learning centre, sign up to the online webinars, subscribe to the weekly newsletters and talk to the search engine relationship managers who might inform them of new products, innovative developments and techniques.

    But I appreciate that some businesses, particular small to medium sized businesses haven’t a substantial marketing budget to ‘get on board’ with these tools, which makes me even more surprised that these businesses (amongst others) are doing it themselves!, despite not fully understanding the capabilities of the platform.

    PPC is excellent in that you can track exactly what’s converting and adjust your budget accordingly. You can harness offline events, link in promotions and target a wide range of terms – quickly, easily and more responsively than offline or natural search.

    If done correctly, you can reap dividends from your initial investment, and like you say, it contributes to the perception of professionalism by meeting user needs.

    Thanks for your comment, and be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed.

    Simon

  2. Excellent post. This is an issue which I see way too often when I take over PPC accounts. People set up PPC campaigns without knowing what is possible or being lazy. E.g a jewellery PPC campaign I took over recently targeted ‘earings’ and ‘bangles’, without negative words or any expansion of this main word. The result? Terrible click rates and no doubt a bad experience for the user.

    I guess the Google etc have all realised that it needs to help its advertisers with this as, at the end of the day, it reflects bad on them and will mean that people don’t click on the PPC ads so they don’t make money.

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