Andreas Vogt, Business Development Manager (Search), from Facilitate Digital outlined four common scenarios that lead to bad performance in an SEM campaign.

The scenarios are based on having high or low levels of impressions, click-through rates (CTR) and conversions. Each scenario raises issues to do with either the setup of the search engine campaign or the landing page.

Scenario One: High impressions + low CTR = low conversions

If your SEM campaign has high impressions, but a low CTR and low conversions then you can probably tell that users are not attracted by the creative that you are using. The keyword that you have selected is competitive and generates a high number of impressions, but the low CTR means that the creative of your campaign is not attractive or appealing.

Another potential reason is that the keyword and creative used do not fit together.

There are a few different actions that you can take to try to lift the results of your campaign. Firstly, try changing the creative by using keyword insertions: “{KeyWord:Example} – advertising text”. A keyword insertion is a standard function from Google AdWords, where a placeholder is being placed directly into a creative text to insert the client’s keyword. Keyword insertions give your campaign a more individual touch for each search that is performed, but do make sure that every inserted keyword fits to your standard text.

Another method to improve your creative is to experiment with different creatives and compare their results regularly. Use true and positive targeted terms such as “better than you expect”, “20% cheaper than”, “as secure as you need”, etc. as these terms are more effective in attracting attention and generating click-throughs.

Scenario Two: high impressions + high CTR = low conversions

You might have a situation where your campaign appears to be going well, with high impressions and click-throughs, but for some reason you have a low number of conversions. In this situation the keyword that you have selected is competitive and generates a lot of impressions. Additionally, your creative is appealing and this is reflected by a high CTR, however your campaign is dogged by a low number of conversions (i.e. no one wants to buy).

To investigate this scenario, take a close look at your product and website landing page. The low conversions may be due to a combination of the product type and/or price might not be appealing or match the keyword and creative, or the landing page layout is not optimal and this stops potential clients from completing a sale.

Have a good look at your landing page(s). One reason for low conversions could be that the look and feel of the landing page is not great or that a product is not presented well. A better description, better pictures, better price, etc. could make a huge difference to the conversion rate.

Another potential cause is that the landing page does not reflect what the potential client is looking for. This is hard to gauge, but try to avoid having all products on one page. Create a more specific landing page for individual products, so your client is led directly to the product or service they were searching for.

Scenario Three: low impression + high CTR = low conversions

A common SEM campaign scenario is that a low number of impressions is generated, but there is a high number of click-throughs and a low number of conversions. This is indicative of using a very specific keyword where potential clients search for a certain product. Specific searching can generate a low number of impressions, which in itself is not bad. The problem occurs because there is a low conversion rate, meaning that either the landing page or the product itself can’t fulfill the potential clients’ expectations.

As above, have a closer look at the landing page for your campaign. If the product or service does not fit with the potential clients’ expectations, then try to change the content of the offer or the layout of the page.

Another possibility for the low conversions is that the specific landing page for the product is broken (you would be surprised how often this happens), so check that the deep links to your website are correct and change if necessary.

Scenario Four: low impression + low CTR = high conversions

The final scenario that you might encounter in your campaign is a result of low impression and low click-throughs, but a high conversion rate. The low impressions are most likely the result of a selecting a very specific keyword (e.g. a specific product name). The low CTR indicates that the creative is not very appealing for the keyword and does not generate much activity. On the positive side, the high conversion rate means the keyword and the creative fit well to the landing page because the users clicking on your creative are buying the product or service.

Try changing the creative to something slightly less specific to multiply the traffic coming to your website through the search engines. Experiment with different creatives and utilise keyword insertions: “{KeyWord:Example} – advertising text”.

Another option would be to include product specific details in the different creatives for different keywords (e.g. regarding the color of the product, etc). Tailor your search engine advertisement as best as possible for every client search, and take care that every keyword fits exactly to the creative text, to the landing page and to the product.

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