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Yorkshire in March 2013 When planning and optimising PPC advertising, it's important to look at how external factors can effect its success. 

In this post I'll look at some oft-overlooked factors which can affect the success of your PPC campaigns.

The weather

I find we will often talk about seasons without actually considering what the weather is. If you’re trying to sell barbecues then it might be a fair assumption that the weather would start getting better in March so that’s when people would be buying.

Consequently you may start to ramp up PPC expenditure at this time of year to capitalise on sales. However, when do you think people actually buy barbecues?

They don’t get to March and suddenly decide to invest (especially this year, as the below picture of the weather last month shows).

People become interested when it is warm outside and the current conditions justify the purchase.

Yorkshire in March 2013

Likewise, if you are selling electric blankets, the main reason why someone would want to buy one is because they were cold in bed last night. Not because they anticipate being cold in the future or because they were cold a month ago. It is a very reactive purchase.

If you can quickly react to changing weather situations and develop your PPC strategy accordingly then this could really put you a step ahead of the competition.

There is a sample script on Google about how to make automated changes as a result of weather.

Don’t just take my word for it though, actually analyse your accounts and check that there is an impact before making any wild changes.

Other advertising forms

It’s important that you’re aware of other advertising surrounding your clients and the industry. If your client suddenly starts up a massive TV advertising campaign then make sure that your PPC budget can support the additional traffic.

If they are pushing certain messages in print advertising then try and reflect these in the PPC ad text and landing pages.

Likewise, if a competitor starts a large advertising campaign, be aware that this might make the industry grow as a whole.

Let’s say Music Magpie advertises its “sell your old music CDs” service on TV. I’m sure this will have some great effects for its own business, but other competitors can potentially gain from this as well.

It is likely to serve a huge boost to the volume of generic searches around these terms.

Similarly, if you have certain advantages over the competitors doing this advertising then your ad texts are a good opportunity to boast about these.

Period in the month

I find that we regularly discuss seasonal elements of an account and modify the strategy based on this. This would generally include the month, the day of the week or the hour of the day.

Each of these often have some fairly fruitful rewards and can lead to a decent increase in account performance. However, the one that people seem to overlook more often than not is the actual period of the month.

With a lot of B2C customers you tend to see a bit of a spike at the end of the month. Of course this is most likely due to payday. Making a small increase in bids to properly value this traffic can prove to have a noticable boost in performance.

You may also see peaks at various other period of the month. For example if you regularly have sales ending in the middle of the month does this effect conversion rate

Make sure you analyse this over several thousand conversions to get the most accurate output.

A recent study on a client with fortnightly promotions.

Historical quality score 

Quality score has undoubtedly become a vital metric in PPC over the last few years. It’s easy to review your current scores, but looking at the current timeframe alone can be a somewhat misleading metric.

If you have an account full of fours and fivess then this could look pretty bad. However, if these were twos and threes last month then you’re actually making great progress.

Ocassionally there are times where, for whatever reason, accounts are just stuck with low quality scores. It’s important that you don’t just focus on this as a negative but actually look at what you can do to keep on improving these in the time to come.

Keep a record of what actions you are taking and how quality scores develop as a result of this. This could provide a basis for optimising the account moving forwards.

However, don’t focus too much on quality score. Never forget that conversions and revenue are the real metrics you need to focus on! 

Pete Whitmarsh

Published 18 April, 2013 by Pete Whitmarsh

Pete Whitmarsh is Head of PPC at Search Laboratory and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)

Heledd Jones

Heledd Jones, Head of Search Marketing at Confused.com

All useful tips, just thought I'd flag up a grammatical error - should be affect not effect (period of the month para)

over 3 years ago

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Joana Ferreira, FWM Marketing Executive at Fast Web Media

Hiya, your comments about reacting upon real-time weather conditions are spot on. And great that you also linked to the article on weatherFIT which I was just about to mention until I noticed that you'd already linked it. Good post!

almost 3 years ago

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