Conversions Are Not One-Size-Fits-All

Let me start by painting what is likely a familiar scenario: You kick off with a new client. They tell you their goal is to drive ‘contact us’ leads. You also talk about the business, CPL goals, specific lead growth goals and a slew of other things so you can walk away from the meeting ready to build the PPC account.

You use all the great information, build a killer account and hit the launch button. A few months down the line you’re driving killer results overall but find that there are groups of keywords you swore would be a perfect match but you recommend pausing as they ‘just aren’t working.’

Sound familiar?

Here’s the problem with this scenario: We often operate under the idea that conversions are one size fits all.   What exactly do I mean by that?

I mean that because our client gave us the directive that they want ‘X’ leads, we assume that every keyword and campaign has to drive ‘X’ leads or it’s not a good fit.

However, potential customers are much more complex than that.  The AIDA concept of marketing helps demonstrate this:

These all represent varying levels of engagement that a potential customer may be in when they reach your site, depending on the device they came from (Computer vs. Tablet vs. Mobile Device), on the keywords they used to find us (check out this recent post by Greg Meyers speaking more on this) and on the way they reached our site (search vs. display vs. remarketing).


So how do you address this?

Your client has told you that ‘Contact us’ leads, for example, are the holy grail.

First, ask questions.  Find out WHY Contact us leads are the holy grail.  Ask questions such as:

How does the sales process work?

How long is the sales cycle?

Are there multiple touch points throughout the sales cycle?

Do different touch points have different values?

Second, do some digging.  Show results of user engagement by using Suggest, SERPs and ads for different types of keyword and campaigns.

At the campaign level, content and search and are often referred to as ‘push’ and ‘pull’; meaning users seeing your ads on the Google Display Network, are being pushed your ads versus users seeing your ads on the SERPS who are pulling your ads.  This inherently leads to a different engagement level between these users.

At the keyword level, for example, the query ‘led tv’ is followed using suggest with ‘reviews,’ ‘deals,’ ‘ratings’.  Likely an indication someone is doing research.

Versus the query ’42 inch led’ which is followed using suggest with specific brands, likely an indication someone is closer to making a purchase.

For these campaigns and queries you may want to consider different landing pages, content and call to action that speaks more directly to each user based on their implied intent.

Third, find potential conversions on their site.  After you’ve asked your questions and have done your digging, if the client is open to testing a different conversion, try to utilize conversions they already have available on their site for testing.  For example, do they have whitepaper, case study, sign up or get a demo content/forms on their site?

Fourth, conduct A/B tests.  Make sure you conduct an A/B test if you’re recommending a switch in the call to action.  You can utilize ACE in AdWords for a nice, quick way to conduct your testing!

In summary, make sure that you are driving the right traffic to the right conversion – the same conversion may not apply to every keyword and campaign!

About Crystal Anderson

Crystal (Anderson) O’Neill (@Crystala) is the PPC division lead for SEER Interactive, a Philadelphia based Digital Marketing Agency.  Prior to joining SEER in 2007, she worked at an International Media Agency as the VP of Business development, where she focused on developing and managing international media and PPC campaigns.

As the PPC division lead, Crystal oversees a team of experienced PPC search professional to ensure they are strategically using search as a means to drive leads and sales for local, national and international businesses across industries, from B2B and Education, to E-commerce and Entertainment. Crystal has dedicated herself to ensuring the PPC division is at the forefront of the industry and is executing strategic tactics that drive a positive ROI for all clients.

Crystal has spoken at industry conferences including HeroConf and Acquisio User Summit, and has been featured in various industry blogs such as PPC Hero, WordStream and BoostCTR.

SEER has been working with Acquisio since 2008 and my favorite feature is the customized reporting.  It has saved our team countless hours over the years, allowing them to spend time on the strategy that drives results for our clients.


  1. Jon says:

    Hey Crystal , love the info on conversions. I deal with many service based clients that do not have true online conversions, but more of awareness building, gaining trust. After many A/B testings I’ve concluded that viewing the users behavior onsite of pages viewed. We sort of figure what their true search intent was.

    The big challenge has always been the audience of different markets (industry) some are socially engaging, these are the easy ones to work with. But, some big brands, their audiences seem to shy away from engagements. This has been a huge challenge to gain trust. May be due to past negative online presences.

    Anyways, just my 2 cents worth, sometimes true conversions takes place more than 1 visits to gain trust in the audience before they make contact or purchase.

  2. Hi Crystal,

    Didn’t I see you at the PPC hero conference in Indianapolis earlier this year?

    Definitely the most important point about lead generation is – what is the final dollar value of the completed conversion?

    This is often the biggest and most common issue that lead generation advertising faces, particularly for those companies who fulfil their own leads rather than acting as a broker and selling them.

    I typically will not work with clients who fulfil their own leads, because most often they find it impossible to assign a realistic cost per acquisition for me to spend their money in achieving, particularly since my long-term goal is to achieve unlimited budgets and accelerated delivery to buy every conversion possible at profit.

    One of the most important things the client manager can do is help the advertiser understand their CPA before even launching any campaigns. This doesn’t need to be deadly accurate to start with, but at least a reasonable initial target to aim for and refined over time.

    But without it, I will not even consider spending a clients money…

  3. Crystal says:

    Jon – thanks for your comment! I agree with your comment entirely – finding the conversion isn’t always so easy and as you move from industry to industry and even within industry from brand to brand, what may work for one company doesn’t work for another. I’ve always found that’s the great part about PPC – you can get the data back so quickly you can start to hone in on what the level of engagement is and optimize from there!

    David – Yes I was at HeroConf last year and will be speaking again this year. Will you be attending as well?
    Great comments from you! Interesting take on only working with clients who do not fulfill their own leads – I’d love to hear more about this if you’re at HeroConf this year!. I agree that it can be tough to get clients to nail down a true CPL or CPA, which impacts how you can manage their campaigns, but there are definitely some gems out there that know their numbers and are great to work with! One way I like to open these conversation is with something like ‘If we drive leads at $X will you come chasing after us that we’ve wasted your money’ – very simple conversation starter, but it seems to help clients get into the mindset of CPL goals and understand why they are so important. Thanks again for your comments!

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