How to experience a 50% drop in CPA with the right keyword strategy

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Brian Lewis
Brian Lewis

Perhaps the most crucial part of any pay-per-click campaign is the implementation of a sound keyword strategy. Think of your keyword strategy as the foundation that supports all of the other elements of your pay-per-click campaigns.

Many online marketers focus on building out their keyword list with every possible combination of words that might relate to their service or product.

That's a great start, of course, but to really ensure your campaigns will perform to their most profitable potential, it's important to focus on creating the most “exact match” keywords and ensure that your ads don't appear for terms not related to your products or services by utilizing negative keywords.

A case study

PensRUs Corp., a leading provider of personalized and logo-branded pens, pencils and promotional products, experienced strong growth during the early and middle parts of the 2000s from its Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns.

Early on, due to lack of competition in PPC, simpler bid changes and account management, it was easy for PensRUs to manage the optimization of their campaigns in-house.

However, with increasingly competitive pressures on bid prices and the added complexity of ad testing, day-parting and geo-targeting, it was becoming more difficult for PensRUs to do an effective job of keeping its PPC campaigns profitable.

PensRUs hired Engine Ready in late 2005 to completely overhaul its existing search marketing campaigns and optimize the accounts to improve ROI. At the time, the average cost per acquisition was just under $150.

One of the largest areas of opportunity that was quickly identified was improving the keyword strategy. And the most comprehensive source of information for directing Engine Ready's keyword strategy was the Web analytics data available from the PensRUs site activity. PensRUs was using a marketing Web analytics application called Conversion Analyst to track click costs and online revenues by campaign source and keyword. Its search phrases report shows the exact phrases visitors searched that displayed the PensRUs paid ad.

Within 3 months after implementing exact match and negative keyword strategies, CPA dropped almost 50 percent from $150 to $80, while conversion rate increased 65 percent.

Brian Lewis is vcie president of marketing for Engine Ready Inc., San Diego. Reach him at


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