The Most Actionable Takeaways from the 2016 HERO Conference

Sam Maugans

Sam Maugans

05/03/2016

For three consecutive days in late April, the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia was home to some of the greatest minds in the Pay Per Click Industry. The HERO CONF Philadelphia, which was produced by Hanapin Marketing, consisted of over 50 speakers, four keynotes, 10 networking events and 40 sessions, as well as over 700 PPC attendees.

At every one of their HERO Conferences, you can expect takeaways that can be used or implemented immediately within your paid search accounts to further increase performance. The PPC topics are always the most up to date content, strategies currently being used across Bing and Google. If you’re afraid of asking questions publicly, they have an app which allows you to discreetly ask each speaker questions.

These conferences are far from all work and no play, as the conference help ten networking events where attendees got to experience the Philadelphia nightlife. Breakfast and lunch were provided each day, and of course, what would a visit to Philadelphia be without a Philly Cheese Steak Break brought to us by SEOM Interactive. The Bing bar take over after party was without a doubt an amazing experience. The entire PPC crowd had a chance to converse with minds from all over the world. There was even an appearance by Ben Franklin and Rocky Balboa, two Philadelphia icons.

The Knowledge Gained at PPC Hero

Now that my HEROCONF experience has come to an end, I have decided to share with you some of the great takeaways I was honored enough to bring back to the office with me. Each of these takeaways below was acquired during the classes I had the privilege to attend, and the amount of information shared by the greatest minds of Google and Bing throughout those 3 days were truly eye-opening.

Hyper-Targeting

The first class, taught by AJ Wilcox and Rod Richmond, pertained to business to business pay per click guides and strategies, in which the main topic focused around what is known as “Hyper Targeting.” When it comes to hyper-targeting, customer match will be the key factor to your success. To implement hyper-targeting, it is best to use separate customer match lists and create various ad groups to make sure each list is targeted with a much more customized ad. This will allow for the best user experience and also help increase conversion rates while decreasing the cost per acquisition. For example, set it up so that you target newsletter subscribers differently than those who simply filled out a contact form and those who viewed a demo or made a purchase.

Customer Match is not just limited to Google, you may also implement into Facebook and Twitter. On Twitter, you need to have a minimum of 500 email users that are following your site before having the ability to target them.

When it comes to LinkedIn advertising, data shows that contact forms and other lead sheets are not converting. Instead, using phone numbers as your call to action converts 9x that of a contact form. Live chat is also an amazing tool which should be implemented when advertising on LinkedIn, and it should be noted that converting on LinkedIn is a much longer cycle than that of Twitter or Facebook. In some cases, a business may not convert for months or even over a year before deciding to take the next step.

Other forms of hyper-targeting include IP Tracking, which will allow you to see the geo areas that surround these IP addresses, and then modify or optimize your geo-targeting accordingly. This is done using any number of tools such as StatCounter. Finally, to ensure conversion goals are working to their fullest potential, be sure to have contact forms, phone calls and live chat on your site and recording conversions separately.

LinkedIn has the most precise targeting when compared to Facebook or Twitter, as well as a 10x higher conversion rate for B2B services. When advertising on LinkedIn, your targeting is found to have better performance than Facebook or Twitter due to the fact that LinkedIn profiles are updated a lot more often. The downfall to LinkedIn, however, is that you cannot perform day parting, remarketing, or even track conversions. The cost per click is much higher than that of FB or Twitter because the conversion rates are also much higher, according to business owners who currently convert on LinkedIn. E-commerce is also not an option, and most likely will never be one on this particular platform.

Targeting options include Job Title, Department Leaders, Seniority, Skills, # of Employees, and even Company names. For the best performance update, it’s recommended you change out ads every 28 to 30 days. Also, Lead Forensics currently tracks IP addresses in which you can use to see where the traffic is physically located when they visit your site, and implement that into your hyper-targeting strategy as well.

Broad Range of PPC Tools

The second session was led by Brad Geddes, who went through in extreme detail the use of indispensable PPC tools every advertiser should not go without. He started off with some simple things that you may otherwise overlook, such as its best practice to keep your desktop icons limited as much as possible. Having icons on your desktop will actually slow down your computer dramatically, thus causing slower productivity and performance during the daily tasks and projects you are responsible for. If that isn’t bad enough, he also explained that while your computer is running slower than its optimal ability, your average office employee gets interrupted from their work every 75 seconds. It then takes that same employee at least another 25 minutes to get back on track before the initial interruption occurred.

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Brad also taught us about energy and productivity levels within the office on a daily basis. During your work day in, let’s say your typical 9-5 office, you and your co-workers or employees have an optimal window to produce high-quality work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He says, and I too agree, that between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm is the window of highest productivity and energy. When scheduling out or planning higher priority projects or tasks to be completed, it would be most beneficial to do it during these peak hours, and leave the remedial tasks such as email responses and smaller projects for the afternoon.

The biggest takeaway I found was that Google Calendar is one of your most important tools, followed by your Email Inbox and its filters, archives and deletions. The better your inbox is organized, the higher performance you will get out of it with the least amount of effort. The Classic Basecamp, GoTo Meeting, Google Docs, and Drop Box are all beneficial tools to be used as well as Excel, AdWords Editor, Bing editor and Keyword Planner.

Ad copy Tools to look into:

Competitor Research Tools:

Display Ad Preview

Display Ad Designs

Landing Page Testing

Ad Ideas

Quality Score

Reporting

Automation Tools

  • API
  • Scripts
  • Excel Macros
  • Desktop Macros

The Process of Capturing Conversions

My third session consisted of capturing conversions, which was led by Mahyar Salek and Vishal Goenka. Back in the beginning of paid advertising, one converted click equaled one conversion—and that was that. That is no longer the case as Google will begin removing the converted clicks column in the near future.

Currently, depending on your set up, you can report one conversion per click or multiple conversions per click. Since the amount of conversions is in most cases the key metric for ROI, it is most beneficial to track one click and multiple conversion. For example, if a user clicks on an ad and performs two conversion actions—such as makes a purchase and sign up for the newsletter—you will see one click and two conversions. If they click on an ad and buy three products, you would see one click and three conversions, etc.

By doing this and tracking all conversions rather than just converted clicks, you are then also able to track what is known as “cross-device conversions.” However, this feature is only available when your AdWords conversion tag is being used to track the “All Conversions” rather than importing goals over from analytics.

When it comes to the actual “conversion tracking” you can have what is known as hard conversions and soft conversions. Hard conversions are contact forms, phone calls, subscription sign-ups purchases, and any other action completed by users that would be deemed a good lead or sale. Soft conversions, on the other hand, would be such things as time spent on page, number of pages visited, and other behavior tracking actions of site activity you wish to measure.

Hard conversions are your optimizable conversions where you’re able to increase the conversion rate of the account through routine maintenance and optimizations. Soft conversions would be for educational and understanding purposes about how your site’s user experience, and may lead to site changes such as on-page and call to actions.

Monitoring and tracking conversions rather than converted clicks will allow you a much greater deal of control over separating hard and soft conversions for clearer reporting and optimizing an account.

It will allow you to then provide the client both optimization strategies not just for their paid search accounts but for their website as well. The one thing you need to keep in mind when reporting or optimizing is what is known as conversion lags. This is the instance in which conversions occur on site but take time before showing up within AdWords. In most cases, the lag time is 6 to 24 hours, but has been known to be almost 2 weeks behind in rare occasions.

Location Extensions

Caleb Donegan and Joshua Graham hosted a session that shows overall search’s including the phrase “near me” have increased 2.4 times year over year.

This means the importance of location extensions is just that much more crucial to implement into each campaign and ad group of your account. By doing so, Google’s algorithm will show your ad first to the users closest to your physical location when your services and products are being searched for.

In-store sales, which is when Google tracks a mobile device used to search and click through an ad, then proceeds to walk into your store and make a purchase is still in the beta test phase, but you can get whitelisted for this now.

What’s Coming in Q2 of 2016

Alan Coleman and Brendan Almack presented us with “Essential AdWords Innovations in Q2.” In this session, we went through how to drive more phone calls and the importance of different keyword bidding strategies.

For phone calls, they recommended that each campaign have mobile preferred ads with specific ad copy that is more enticing for users on mobile devices.

For example: Call Now for expert help, Call Now to place your order, etc. They noted that 70% of all searches use Call Extensions to make phone calls, and that Call Only should be implemented immediately if the site is not mobile friendly. You should always have a Call Button. The lack of this call to action will be detrimental to your mobile campaigns.

Keyword bidding strategies that were discussed included Day Parting, which is when you look at a campaigns performance activity during the days and hours it is running. It is best practice to then increase or decrease your keyword bids during the higher and lower performing hours.

They also explain that there may be a limit by budget on one device, while not on the other. Search query mining for the highest converting keywords and then making bid adjustments regarding position and performance of those keywords. They suggested performing keyword separations based on conversion performance, and then placing them into high priority campaigns. This will allow you to allocate your daily budgets for the most exposure, and to allow those highest converting keywords a more competitive edge within each auction.

At the same time, you will want to place a decreased bid adjustment on all keywords that accrue costs but no conversions/returns on investment. Also, allocate a lower portion of the budget to this non-converting campaign to ensure the money being spent on ad spend is optimized for conversion return as much as possible. Thus, this tactic will ensure your return on ad spend is going to be at its fullest potential.

Also, when it comes to obstacles or issues during the lifecycle of a campaign, once a solution is found, then it immediately should become a rule for all other campaigns. This will help cut down obstacles and issues across accounts moving forward.

Preventing Mistakes with Your Campaigns

The final session I was able to attend was called “The Best PPC Mistakes & How to Prevent Them,” hosted by Lance Bachmann and Purna Virji. They were able to point out very big and very common mistakes that any of us could make.

These mistakes included conversion tracking codes being placed on all pages of the website rather than the remarketing tag. Thus, your clients ROI metrics are completely skewed, which leads to that unwanted conversation about the misleading data. Improper imports of AdWords campaigns into Bing in which geography, bids, budgets, ads, and a number of other metrics, could be affected if not monitored and checked during and after these imports.

All the information covered by the 1SEO.com Digital Agency President covered not only the mistakes, but more importantly, how to correct them or avoid them altogether.

Wrapping Up the Three Days

Tthe HERO Conference in Philadelphia was an amazing event. The like-minded PPC professionals and individuals you get to be surrounded with, the educational sessions hosted by pay per clicks biggest names, is something I will never forget.

For all of you who could not attend, please try to do whatever it takes to make the next one. HERO Conference will be taking over London from October 24 to the 26, 2016. I know my team and I will definitely be there, and we all would love to see anybody who can make it.

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