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PPC: More than Meets the ROI with Tim Jensen

By Site Strategics
January 14, 2020

Our special guest for episode 338 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was guest Tim Jensen, Campaign Manager at Clix Marketing. Host Erin Sparks spoke with Tim about all kinds of practical things people should know if they want to find greater success in PPC (pay-per-click) marketing and advertising. Here’s what we learned: 


Tim Jensen: His Background and Experience

Tim Jensen is the campaign manager at Clix Marketing, with more than eight years of experience in digital marketing. Tim has worked in both B2B and B2C accounts in a variety of different industries. He’s comfortable managing ads on all the major platforms, but he’s also intrigued with the crossover between analytics and PPC, which has been an industry gap for a long time. Anyone who has been doing PPC for a while probably has a grasp of analytics basics, but often don’t have a deeper knowledge of how Google Analytics tracks certain metrics or how to set up tracking for those metrics. If tracking isn’t set up properly, then you’re probably getting bad data and not managing your campaigns as well as you could be.

Tim started in digital marketing about a decade ago at a full-service agency in a fairly generic role straight out of college. When the PPC person left the company, Tim was pushed into that role. It was a niche that suited him well, and he went on to do PPC work for another local agency, which is where he learned analytics as the company’s clients were constantly asking how to track this or that related to their websites. Then, about two-and-a-half years ago, Tim joined Clix Marketing. What appeals to Time about PPC is the immediacy of the data you get back, and the exactness of what can be tracked. And it brings together a variety of types of work from analytics and number-crunching to copywriting to understand markets and niches. 

Tim is going to be presenting at SMX West about B2B advertising, and especially tools and methods you can use to identify keyword strategies because B2B can be a tricky space to figure out what to go after. It will be a very practical session, which SMX is always good for.


Bridging the PPC-Analytics Gap

An important point Tim makes is how incredibly useful it is to deepen your knowledge of analytics in order to understand and contextualize the data you’re seeing. For example, some people get obsessed with bounce rates, which are considered a negative kind of feedback. Just because someone “bounced” away from a page or your site doesn’t necessarily mean they failed to gain something useful. The visitor could have been on the page for a full minute, read the content, and then left. But because they didn’t do anything else to “engage” the page, they’re counted as a bounce. It’s not necessarily the all-negative statistic many people assume it is. But you wouldn’t even know any of this unless you dug a little deeper in the analytics to understand what bounce rate really is and how it is calculated.

What’s that bounce rate really about? It’s about customer intent as expressed by their behavior on a site. And there are all kinds of insights to be gained from these behaviors beyond whether they fill in your lead-gen form or give you a call. For example, you can use Google Tag Manager to track a person’s scrolling behavior on a page, to see how far they scroll down, whether or not they’re watching a video on the page, and so on. You can get a page flow report that shows how people navigate through your site that reveals if you have issues about the sequence of movement you’ve set up and where it seems you’re losing people. 

If your website has an internal search function, that can be some really interesting data to look at. What’s the first thing people search for on your site? How are they searching for products and services on your site? This could reveal keywords you should be used for paid and organic search, what words they’re using for your products versus what words you use. And you should probably be using the words they’re using!


Let the Data Speak!

A PPC marketer needs to be fully familiar with the site they’re advertising. They need to be able to walk through and have a map of the intended user flow, the site’s assets, features, and so on that make the user experience not only worthwhile but the things the user is experiencing. Then you can actually start putting together a user experience map from common elements on every page, as well as different items they will be found along their path. 

Sometimes companies tend to force visitors too quickly to a place where their only option is to check a box to have a salesperson contact them. But what if they’re not ready for that? This is especially true in the B2B space where the sales cycle is very long because customers do a ton of research before they ever get to the point of having contact with sales. You have to enough assets along the way that provide them value without forcing them to have contact with sales when they’re not ready for that – you can have it be an option, such as offering a free whitepaper on a topic, and they can also check the box to have sales contact them, but they don’t have to check that box. You’ve got to have options for where they may or may not be in your funnel. 

You may have more visitors than you think who arrive to a landing page, but they don’t like landing pages and the way they tend to force you down into filling out a form, so that visitor might bounce out of that and go to your main home page to learn more about the company. The fact this particular visitor bounced off the landing page is necessarily a bad thing, depending on what else they did on your website. 

And speaking of landing pages, get a load of this. Do a search on “landing pages best practices” and you’ll get all kinds of conflicting advice: Some will say long-form is best while others say short form is best, some will say put the contact form at the top and others will say at the bottom, some will say use videos and others will say don’t use videos. The problem is that people are reading articles and just doing whatever the article says they should do rather than actually digging into the data and letting the data guide what they do. There is no single set of best practices for landing pages that applies to all sites. What works vary by client, it can vary by the time of year, it can even vary among different product lines within the same client. You have to get in there and experiment, track the data, and learn for yourself what works for each specific application.


What’s the Story with ROI?

The big problem with the whole concept of ROI is that it’s very linear and one-dimensional. You need to know more than you get from a simple calculation of cost per customer for filling out a form. Knowing what you’re paying for that lead just doesn’t give you much. How much time passes between a prospect filling out a form and becoming a paying customer? Hopefully, you can track that through your CRM. If you’re a SaaS business, you want to track customer retention. What kind of value will you get from that customer over the long term? You want to understand what their long-term value is, not just the cost of acquiring them as a customer. 

It’s also frustrating when a client says they only want to pay ten dollars per lead, but the service they’re selling costs five figures. That’s simply not realistic. Instead, it may be very worthwhile to run a highly targeted campaign that’s going to cost several hundred dollars for a lead, say on LinkedIn. That’s reasonable for a five-figure service! Will your finance people do a double-take on those costs? Probably – but if it pays off big down the line, then it’s worth it. You have to keep in mind that because LinkedIn is for business professionals, it’s a highly qualified audience that’s going to cost more, but also return more if you’re successful.


GTM: Google Tag Manager

Some of the analytics being discussed here are available through Google Analytics very easily, but many are not. This is where something like Google Tag Manager (GTM) can become very useful. Any tag manager is a product that allows you to add one code to your website that then opens up a whole world of deploying multiple tracking tags to specific pages as you desire through the tag manager’s user interface. You have total control over what tags go where throughout your site. 

You can do scroll tracking and video watching tracking as previously mentioned. There’s also click tracking. Google Analytics will only track page views for URLs that are part of your site, but with GTM you can track if someone’s clicking a link off to another site. Something like a PDF is not going to show up by default, so you can track if someone’s clicking to download a PDF if there’s a button you want to track – tons of potential opportunities!

Think about this for a minute: Those downloadables, like white papers, for example, are touch-points where a customer is getting something of value from you, so of course, you should be tracking that! And Google Tag Manager can do it when Google Analytics can’t. And there are plenty of guides out there to help you learn the basics of how to do this. It’s important because it takes website data to a whole new level, allowing you to see the specific elements that visitors are finding useful (or not) beyond just visiting a page. 

Here’s how it ties back into the PPC world. Anything you decide to track with Google Tag Manager can be linked to a retargeting audience. In other words, Google Tag Manager is how you can directly tie Google Analytics to Google Ads. It’s brilliant. It allows you to really hone in on the people who more engaged. For example, based on default Google Analytics you could set up a retargeting audience for anyone who visited your blog page. But that would include people who bounced off after two seconds, which means they weren’t engaged. But with Google Tag Manager you could set it up so the retargeting audience is made up of only people who actually read at least 50% of a blog post, which makes sense because they were clearly more engaged than the visitor who immediately bounced. It’s a way of turning a broad audience into a more targeted and qualified audience based on their behavior on your site.

Connect with Tim Jensen and Clix Marketing

Twitter: @timothyjjensen (https://twitter.com/timothyjjensen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothyjjensen

Clix Web: http://www.clixmarketing.com

Clix Twitter: @ClixMarketing (https://twitter.com/ClixMarketing)

Clix Facebook: @ClixMarketing (https://www.facebook.com/ClixMarketing)

Clix LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/clix-marketing

Speaking of ROI – What’s Yours?

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