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August 29, 2017
Advertising  |  8 min read

Optimizing Your PPC Customer Journey

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Tony Capetola

A great PPC campaign is nothing without a proper understanding of the customer’s journey from paid click to on-site conversion.

Even the most seasoned AdWords veterans often overlook two aspects of managing successful campaigns:

  • Ignoring the conversion funnel from the beginning
  • Forgetting to measure the touch points throughout the customer journey

In fact, a study found that 86 percent of senior-level marketers expressed the critical nature of creating a cohesive customer journey.

Before you can begin improving that journey, you must first ensure that the funnel is wide open and unimpeded, and second, you need to implement a distinct system of checks and balances to analyze and nurture the funnel along.

To help you along, here are some best practices that can (and will) help you get started.

Check for tracking

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Robert Burns

Artfully built PPC campaigns generally start out much like the blueprints to a home or building. They include a foundation, structure/frame, mortar, etc.

However, there is far more to it than campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and targeting. Prior to being able to analyze how PPC-derived visitors make it through the funnel, you must implement any and all required tracking.

Before turning on the lights, conduct a routine health check and look to make sure certain items are, without a doubt, implemented:

  • Make sure you have correctly installed code snippets such as your Universal Analytics Tracking ID. If you connect Google Analytics with Google AdWords you can share Goals (Analytics-based Conversion Tracking) with AdWords and apply them as trackable conversions for PPC campaigns.
  • You may opt to only utilize AdWords Conversion Tracking in which case you should check to see if you have installed the correct AdWords conversion code (because you could have more than one) on the right pages of your site. This would typically be the “Thank You” or “Confirmation” pages. (For example when a visitor completes a form submission or finalizes a purchase on your website).
  • You should consider utilizing Tracking Templates (aka ValueTrack parameters) for your campaigns. This can be done at scale when using tools such as AdWords Editor and Bing Editor.

Apply the AIDA funnel

AIDA is a funnel visualization tool that is commonly applied to digital marketing activities. The AIDA funnel has four components: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

BigCommerce founder Mitchell Harper spoke at length about AIDA and its applications in marketing in a recent webinar which is now publicly available on YouTube. He delves into greater detail with regards to mapping AIDA to your marketing funnel.

When applied to managing and optimizing PPC campaigns, the AIDA funnel can help you visualize each layer of the customer journey, and a unique mindset/emotional state of a potential converting visitor can be applied to each point in the funnel.

AIDA funnel.png


By being able to connect with the mentality or emotional state of your potential customers as it applies to the AIDA funnel, and before they ever even see your ads, you can gain a unique perspective on the steps they take to finalize their path.

With that vital data in hand you can better optimize the following:

  • Ad copy to ensure that your offer stands out in comparison to competitors
  • The landing page experience for an increase in a prospect’s initial “WOW Factor” when they visit the page
  • Your website’s navigation, making it easy to transition from the landing page to site-search/mapping/page hierarchy
  • Check out steps and add to cart functionality

Measure, analyze, optimize

So now that you have an idea on some “preemptive strike” steps prior to launching a successful PPC campaign, you’re probably wondering about the actual measurement of the customer journey itself.

While there are several tools out there that can assist with this, there are a select few that I consider foundational for PPC campaigns.

Related Article:

Behavior: Google Analytics

I must be completely honest with you. If you aren’t using Google Analytics then you are completely missing out. There is truly no substitute in my professional opinion.

In Google Analytics there is a specific section that is literally dedicated to understanding not only the PPC journey but also the journey from any source/medium.

It’s called Behavior Flow and it is a very clean and easy to understand mapping from landing to final interaction.

behavior flows.png

Similar Analytics features you may also find beneficial in your endeavors include Landing Pages, Exit Pages, and Custom Reports.

Session recording and heatmapping: MouseStats

When I first learned about website heatmapping a few years ago I didn’t give it much thought at first because I was so firm in my love affair with Google Analytics.

Fast-forward and today I’m not sure why more people aren’t using this technology. One that I personally recommend is MouseStats.

Their suite of tools includes some of my favorites: Session Recording with Visitor Playback and Heatmaps. You can watch your visitors as they journey through your site and you can also see where visitors are clicking most often. Both of which could be invaluable to your analytics.


A/B testing: Optimizely and Google Optimize

Once the reigning supreme king of A/B testing, Optimizely lets you both experiment with variant page/landing page options and analyze on-site behavior in a comparison environment.

However, Google just released the native AdWords and Analytics integrated Google Optimize.

This free-to-use tool has all the same, excellent benefits of enterprise/paid A/B testing platforms out there, but it also allows for seamless integration with both AdWords and Analytics.

Either way you go: must haves!

2017 Strategic Planning Kit - Download Now

An over 10-year veteran of the digital marketing industry, Tony has built and managed successful SEM and Social PPC campaigns for hundreds of small to large-sized businesses in various industry verticals including national franchises and e-commerce. Today as the Marketing Manager for Sales & Orders Management Software for Google Shopping, he manages the entirety of paid search and inbound marketing efforts for the SaaS company focused on helping retailers succeed online. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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