Pay More & Go With A Better Hosting Provider

Hosting Provider Data Center

Your hosting provider is a crucial partner in the success of your business. Make sure to do your due diligence when deciding which host to use.

You will find a lot of fly by night companies offering the best prices possible. It will make you think “look how much I can save”. Think again. The amount you’ll save by using a cheap host instead of a reputable one such as RackSpace is negligible.

With a proper host, you will get a very high level of support. They would go above and beyond what is contractually required of them. When and if there is downtime, how your host handles it defines the quality of their commitment to you. I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with some hosting companies. One host had an outage that lasted for 13 hours, during which you couldn’t get through to anyone at their company. Is that worth saving $100 a month? How much business was lost?

Bottom Line

Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

Image Credit: Steinar Johnsen

Landing Pages Can Increase Your Conversion Rate By +50%

Never assume your typical consumer will click past the first page (or even scroll down the same page). It is your job to sell the consumer and convince them to click further. Your page needs to have all pertinent information displayed right when the page loads. It should be displayed in a nice easy to digest format.

Landing Pages

If your landing page is selling products from a specific brand, you will want to include the brand name in a large typeface, and specific reasons to shop by you (i.e. Authorized Dealer, 110% Low Price Guarantee, Quick Shipping, Free Shipping etc…).

If your landing page is selling a specific product you should display the product name and the price prominently. The product image should be large and clear with the ability to zoom in for bonus points. The add to cart button should be very big and above the fold. Colors make a big difference as well, generally green and yellow work well but feel free to test different colors.

Good vs Bad

B&H Photo Video Product Landing Page

Good: B&H Photo Video Product Landing Page

Bad: Where Is The 'Add To Cart' Button?

Bad: Where Is The 'Add To Cart' Button?

Get Extra Mileage By Tweaking Your Ad Copy

Ad Serving

Ad Serving

When creating a new campaign, it is always good to create several ads in each ad group. By default Google will serve your best performing ads more often than the others. With a brand new campaign that doesn’t have enough data, I’ve found this to be skewed towards the ads that performed well during the first couple of days. To counteract this, you can set your campaign to display ads evenly for 2-3 weeks so that you can collect a decent amount of data and then switch it back to serve the best performing ads more often.

Ad Copy

You should always put at least three different ad copies in each ad group. Although you know your product the best, you don’t know what people tend to click on. The bottom line is that consumers are hard to predict.

Try using similar ads such as:

Red Shirt – Free Shipping
110% Low Price Guarantee. Order Now.
3 Day Sale. Fast, Free Shipping

Red Shirt – Free Shipping
110% Low Price Guarantee. Order Now.
3 Day Sale, Huge Selection Of Shirts.

Red Shirt – Lowest Price
Large Selection, Authorized Distributor.
3 Day Sale. Fast, Free Shipping.

After a few weeks, see which ads performed better and tweak the others with similar styles. Every few weeks you should rinse and repeat.

Should I Spend Time On Yahoo! Search Marketing & Microsoft adCenter?

Judgement Day

It is a well known fact that Google AdWords commands more than 80% of the Paid Search market share. With that being the case, is worth the time managing campaigns on Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter? This question is even more important considering the somewhat recent news that Microsoft Bing will be merging with Yahoo! Search.

Cost vs Results

One thing is for sure, keywords on Yahoo and Bing will cost a fraction of what they cost on Google. The main reason for this is that there are much less advertisers on Yahoo and Bing. This can be a benefit to you though because of the keyword bidding competition, or lack thereof.

The Big Test

The easiest thing to do is download an export from your Google account using Google AdWords Editor and upload this into the Yahoo and Microsoft consoles. They both offer the ability to convert Google campaigns.

Once your campaigns are live in the second tier engines, lower your bids and daily budgets and let the ads roll. Keep your eye on keywords that are getting way too many clicks. I’ve seen keywords which didn’t perform too well on Google, get overclicked on Yahoo and Microsoft.

Day Of Judgement

After accumulating 3-4 weeks of data, check your return on investment (ROI), if it looks like your’re making a profit, then go for it. Make sure to calculate the cost of the extra time it takes to manage a triplicate set of campaigns.

What If Yahoo! & Bing Merge?

They have already finalized the deal on paper. However, they still need to get regulatory approval, which can take a while. Even when they do get approval, they will need to integrate their two systems, which can take even longer.

Can’t Handle It?

If you can’t handle managing three sets of campaigns for Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter and Yahoo! Search Marketing, try a third party tool that gives you the ability to manage all three from within one interface. Some of the better ones are Kenshoo, Acquisio and Clickable.

Use Google AdWords Opportunities To Broaden Your Campaign Reach

Google Rubber Duckies

In the (relatively) new Google AdWords interface, there is a new tab called Opportunities, in here Google will periodically offer you campaign optimization tips.

The best idea is to go and review these suggestions on a monthly basis as these tips are constantly changing based on consumer search behavior and patterns.

Keyword Opportunities

On the left side, you can select a campaign the same as you would in the Campaigns tab. When you select a campaign it will show you a list of ad groups with suggestions. Click on each ad group and you will see a list of search terms that Google suggests you add to the ad group. You should always review before accepting because they will suggest many keywords that may be to generalized for your campaigns success.

By doing this monthly, you will keep growing your campaign target audience based on Google’s historical data and metrics.

Image Credit: Yodel Anecdotal

Go For Break-Even In Google AdWords & Raise Your Budget

Google Daily Budget

When you are first starting out with your Google AdWords campaigns you will tend to be concerned about your ROI. A good trick to help progress your campaigns performance in terms of ROI, is to aim for your break even point.

Break Even

First you will need to figure out what that point is, once you have the magic number — whether it is $25 per sale or 20% of the total sale amount — you will need to set up your campaigns budget to get a decent amount of traffic. As your campaign starts collecting data, keep optimizing and tweaking it until you reach the break even point.

Shot In The Arm

Once you come close, you should raise the daily budget as much as you can. This will do two things simultaneously: first, it will bring you more traffic which you can optimize better and second, it will help bring up your click through rate and conversion rate. This works by simple logic. If your conversion rate is 1.5% and you only have 100 visitors, you may miss out on the 1.5 sales you would have got. If you have 1,000 visitors, you have a better chance of finding the 1.5% of visitors that will convert into customers.

Image Courtesy: Danard Vincente

How To Boost Traffic & ROI With Your Daily Budget

Google AdWords Daily Budget

The daily budget in Google AdWords is kind of confusing for some advertisers. If you set your budget to $50, you will notice some days it will spend $48 some days it will spend $59.32.

Even though it is called the daily budget, the way Google actually calculates it is slightly different. They will take your daily budget and multiply it by the number of days in the month to get a monthly budget. This is the magic number that your campaign will not spend more than. I believe anything over this number Google will actually refund you. (Can anyone confirm this?)


It is important to look at the daily budget and see if you are hitting your daily budget on most days. If you are, chances are you can get more traffic for your campaign if you raise you budget. As long as your ROI is ok, you will want to raise your daily budget where you will not be losing out on traffic.

In addition to bringing more traffic, you will probably see an increase in overall ROI. When you have more traffic you have a better chance of turning conversions.

Image Courtesy: Darren Hester

Use Search Query Performance Report To Reduce Extra Spend

Although broad match keywords should be only be used sparingly, there are many instances where you will find the need to use them. In such cases it is a good idea to look at what terms Google matches your ads to and what terms are getting clicked on.

Search Query Performance Report

In the new Google AdWords interface this is relatively simple. When you are in the keyword tab select a few broad match keywords or select all, and click the ‘See Search Terms…” button and select show all. This will pop open a new window with a list of the terms that trigger your ad. From this list you can check of specific keywords and select exclude. You have the ability to exclude terms on the campaign level or ad group level. These keywords will be added as negatives to you campaign or ad group depending on what you selected.


Bottom Line

Best practice is to run this every two weeks or so, especially if you are constantly making changes to your campaigns. You will find that you are shaving off significant chunks of your spend which you can reallocate to better performing keywords.

Get Your Products Listed First On PriceGrabber

Being a new merchant on most comparison shopping engines can be frustrating because when you have no click through history or ratings your products show up pretty far down on the page. There some tricks you learn along the way, here is one that can be helpful for comparison shopping engines that group merchants offering the same product on to one page. PriceGrabber is the first to come to mind.

Product Research

The first thing to do is research your product category and look for trends on how the search results are displayed. You are looking for this:

PriceGrabber: First Result From Group Of Sellers

PriceGrabber: First Result From Group Of Sellers

Most consumers will click on the first result, that’s where you’ll want to be.

Top Placement

In order for PriceGrabber to show your product with the first results of grouped merchants, you’ll need to make sure that you are using the same SKU as well as brand name spelling. If you have the same info, you’ve done it, you will now be in the first result.

Stick Out

Now you are on the first search result, you’ll want to try and get you products to stick out from the other merchants on the pages. You can do this by adding your logo or a discount promo message.

PriceGrabber: Compare Products Page

PriceGrabber: Compare Products Page

Track Sales With Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking

Google Analytics is a very powerful and free tool. It’s as good (if not better) than some of the enterprise tracking tools out there.

Standard Tracking

The standard Google Analytics tracking pixel will get you all the basic data such as visitors, page views, referring source and keywords. This is essential for any website, especially an online retailer.

You can get the code for this sample Google Analytics standard tracking pixel from Analytics Settings > Profile Settings > Check Status (top right), or copy from here and replace the UA-XXXXXXX-XX with the ID from your account on the same page.

<script type="text/javascript">
	var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www."); document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
<script type="text/javascript">
	try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXXXX-X"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}

Setup Conversion Goals

The next thing you’ll want to do is set up conversion goals. For an ecommerce site, the primary goal will be a customer’s purchase. However, you can set up additional goals like customers who used the contact form or signed up for your newsletter or mailing list.

You can set up a Goal under Analytics Settings Profile Settings Goal Settings. In the first section fill out the requested fields as follows (see screenshot below):

  • Active Goal — Yes
  • Match Type — Generally use Head Match
  • Goal URL — For the goal page “” enter “/thankyou.html”
  • Goal Name — This can be anything you choose
  • Case Sensitive — Better leave unchecked unless you know what you’re doing
  • Goal Value — If your goal has a set price, enter it here. Otherwise, leave it at 0.0.

Google Analytics -- Goal Set Up Section 1

In the next section, you will need to outline the pages that a consumer must go through to place an order. I have used the page names from Magento Commerce as an example. The first step will generally be required, the best place to start will be your shopping cart page. You can assign any name to these pages.


Google Analytics -- Goal Set Up Section 2

In Google Analytics, there is a section with many reports on your goal funnel. you can see your conversion rate as well as a Funnel Visualization. This will also help you see where people are dropping out of you checkout flow.

E-Commerce Tracking

Tracking your sales is by far the most important part of this guide. Without knowing where to attribute your sales you won’t know where your ad spend is being effective and where you you are losing your pants. Google Analytics’ ecommerce tracking allows you to track data such as purchase quantity, items ordered, product category, sale referring source and much more.

Here is a sample Google Analytics ecommerce tracking pixel. Note the comments in the JavaScript code. There are two parts, one for the order info (order number, total, city, state zip etc…) and one for the product information (model, description, quantity, price etc…) — the second part must be looped once for each item in the order. Ahain, make sure to replace “UA-XXXXXXX-X” with your ID.

<script type="text/javascript">
	var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));

<script type="text/javascript">
	try {
	var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXXXX-X");

	// Main Order Info //
		"1234", 		// Order ID
		"Mountain View", 		// Affiliation
		"11.99", 		// Total
		"1.29", 		// Tax
		"5", 		// Shipping
		"San Jose", 		// City
		"California", 		// State
		"USA" 		// Country

	// Loop Once Per Item //
		"1234", 		// Order ID
		"DD44", 		// SKU
		"T-Shirt", 		// Product Name
		"Green Medium", 		// Category
		"11.99", 		// Price
		"1" 		// Quantity
	} catch(err) {}

Note: One limitation of most analytical software is the inability to track phone sales.