Increase SEM spend or optimize your page?

4 01 2008

SEM vs Multivariate Testing

Most decision makers start multivariate testing because it makes sense in terms of ROI. While I may talk about helping marketers make good decisions about their pages, my real job is to make my clients look good by getting them a result that looks good online (a quality web page) and on paper (quality returns.)

The value of multivariate testing and landing page optimization lies in the fact that SEM is rapidly becoming more expensive as competition rises.

How much would you have to spend in PPC to get a sustainable 30% raise in conversions? To be sustainable, you would have to spend that much money month after month.

  • Sustainable lifts even after optimization ends

With testing, the increased conversion rate will typically be sustainable over a significant period of time. Pay to optimize once and you’ll receive that raise in conversions for free for months and even possibly years after you finish your first test. Of course the best way to go is continual testing to squeeze even more out of your pages, but the results from any testing come pretty quickly and make good business sense.

  • More efficient SEM spend

A bonus is the natural cycle that occurs from optimizing. Once your page is optimized, your advertising spend will be more efficient. This allows you to either spend the excess money towards other campaigns or feed it back into the optimized campaign to further drive conversions.

  • Large increases in conversion rate

Lastly, while this only happens occasionally, conversion rates often shoot through the roof after testing. We have more than doubled conversion rates for some pages, which typically is not possible even with dumping money into advertising.

If you have a solid SEM campaign but aren’t seeing results you want or once had, or if you just want to stay ahead of the competition, multivariate and split testing are the necessary next steps.

I work in this field for two reasons: 1. I love marketing and testing, 2. I know that in a few years, every business will be testing.

SEM will be around for a long time and must be done right, but it is not getting cheaper anytime soon and most businesses already participate in it. Testing is still nascent and probably where SEM was 3-4 years ago. Don’t get left behind, the future is in testing.



2 responses

14 01 2008

Hey Billy,

I think it’s important to think about where you are in your PPC optimization lifecycle. The question is: where are your greatest inefficiencies and what is the likely cost/return going to be?

I don’t think PPC and MVT are an either/or proposition. You can do one, the other or both depending on the maturity of your site and campaigns.


15 01 2008

That’s definitely true Alex. I guess I should more clear that I am assuming marketers are pretty far into their PPC campaigns and are looking for where else they can find gains other than spending more money on PPC.

In the end, ROI is the usual metric to measure what should be done and I don’t want to discourage that.

In summary, if it feels like you are run out of ways to improve your PPC or things are getting difficult, optimization should be an obvious choice.

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