ClickEquations – Complex Paid Search Campaign Management, Simplified

Last week Alex Cohen, Marketing Manager at ClickEquations sat down with us to give us his first hand insight on the benefits of their paid search product and why marketers should give it a test drive for themselves.

[Manoj]: Give us a brief description of what ClickEquations does and some of its greatest benefits

[Alex Cohen]: ClickEquations is the tool we dreamed of having years ago when we managed paid search accounts directly using other tools or working directly in the engine interfaces. It’s a complete paid search management platform, proving detailed reporting, powerful analysis capabilities, full campaign editing, and bid management. This means that a paid search manager can build, manage, and report on all of their campaigns, in all search engines, from a single interface while both saving time and delivering better results.

We were a paid search agency managing large and complex campaigns in retail, lead gen, and media. So we know the frustration of not being able to get the data you need, of slow reporting interfaces, and of the frustrating multi-step (and often multi-tool) repetitive processes that fill the days of many PPC professionals. Our old pet peeves are directly responsible for the best features in ClickEquations. This is true within our of data, reporting, and editing features.

For example, we aren’t big fans of ROAS as a success metric, so in ClickEquations you can define the actual profit margin for every conversion event and then see net profit and actual ROI results at the keyword, ad group, or campaign levels. This allows much better keyword and bidding decision making. And we knew that search queries are the only way to know which keywords need to be added, which negatives are required, and how to best use Match Types, so we collect and display nearly every search query that drives visitors to your site and let you see the keyword and match type that they were matched too – and we do this for all three search engines. This allows our customers to save money and grow campaigns very quickly.

We went to great lengths to make our reporting interface highly customizable and extremely fast – paid search managers need to slice and dice their data all day long. Looking at different metrics for a single ad group, or rolling up data across campaigns, comparing one date range to another, etc – it’s too painful to have to sit and wait for screens to redraw at each step. Our performance not only saves time, I think it actually encourages or allows managers to do the type of analysis and gain the insights they really need. When the interface is too slow my experience is that after a while you just stop navigating reports, you get worn down by the process.

Even with rich data and a fast, flexible reporting interface, we know paid search managers face a mountain of data every day. It’s nearly impossible to really examine hundreds or thousands of ad groups and tens of thousands of keywords for problems or potential changes. So we have tools and analysis reports that call out these risks and opportunities. A simple one shows all the keywords that are currently below Google’s First Page Bid Estimate. It’s easy for these to go un-noticed for days or weeks without such a report. Another shows you which campaigns are leaving money on the table due to low Impression Share metrics. A more complex example lets you see where keywords are producing great results in one search engine but not in another – offering a quick win by simply copying the winner from engine ‘A’ to engine ‘B’.

[Manoj]: ClickEquations is known for its slick interface, so what makes your interface so good

[Alex Cohen]: I think the core of it comes from the fact that we managed search campaigns ourselves. The most frequent comment we get from people who see us at trade shows or on our weekly webinars is “it’s so clear you guys really understand ppc”. There are all kinds of large and small aspects of our interface and product that come from our deep practical experience in the space.

The other thing about our interface is that we realize the importance of context. Most tools seem to developed with the goal of replicating the AdWords or AdWords Editor interface, supporting three engines, and then adding a few bells and whistles. We think this is a fundamentally flawed approach. The engine interfaces are utilitarian at best, and designed by the seller. They’re trying to make it easy for you to spend money, not necessarily to understand how you’re spending it or spend it wisely. They also over-compartmentalize components – add keywords here, set bids there, edit text ads there – when these element interact and smart changes need to consider these interactions.

[Manoj]: How does attribution fit into your solution?

[Alex Cohen]: This is a great example of where a lack of the right data and clear access to it can really make it hard to make smart paid search decisions. We all know that some users visit sites multiple times before making a purchase. Yet the conversion tracking features from the search engines and most analytics and even paid search tools, give 100% revenue credit to the last keyword.

ClickEquations supports four attribution models – first click, last click, linear, and weighted (which overweights keywords which occur more frequently in successful chains) –so our users can both choose how they want to distribute revenue among keywords and more importantly see and make choices based on the differences. We’re the only vendor, to my knowledge, to allow you to change the attribution model retroactively – you can switch from one to another on-the-fly and then go back and look at historical reports to see the impact.

We also let you apply different attribution models to each bid rule, so you can use a last-click model for your brand terms for example, and a linear model for your category keywords. And finally, we have reports in ClickEquations Analyst (our excel plug-in) that let you see individual keywords and the impact of each attribution model on them for any time period, with helpful conditional formatting to highlight big shifts. All of this drives a better understanding of keyword performance, which can drive better decisions about which keywords to pause or delete and how to set keyword bids. Without visibility into this data, a lot of those decisions are just guesses.

[Manoj]: Tell us a little bit about some of your product specific metrics such as ClickShare and ClickVariance

[Alex Cohen]: Part of our quest for clear detailed data produced the not-so-surprising realization that the search engines aren’t telling us everything we’d like to know. A lot of what they keep private is data that only they have, but some of it is buried in all the data they do provide.

We have developed a series of proprietary metrics that offer additional information and insights to our clients. ClickShare and ClickVariance are two of them. ClickShare is our extension of Impression Share, taking the concept of ‘wh
at you’re missing’ from the Campaign to the Ad Group and Keyword levels. It looks at your CTR, average position, and the CTR of the text-ads being used, and calculates the potential for improvement in clicks. So if an Ad Group had 10,000 impressions and 500 clicks, ClickShare would give you an idea of how many more clicks were possible, and the relative role position and ad-copy play in causing the missed clicks. What this helps you do is prioritize effort – it can call out the ad groups where text-ads are under-performing and you should consider spending time writing new copy to test. Without this metric, if you just looked over the Ad Group report, it would be impossible to tell that in these specific Ad Groups testing could have a 50% impact on click volume, while in those Ad Groups at most it would be likely to only have a 2% impact.

ClickVariance provides a similar service in terms of highlighting Ad Groups where there are too many keywords – not against some arbitrary number that is good or bad – but based on how the keywords in that Ad Group are performing. What we recommend is looking at groups with high ClickVariance numbers, and seeing if there are natural segmentations for the keywords they contain. Usually when you review an Ad Group with a moderate to high ClickVariance, it’s pretty obvious where and how you could split the keywords into two or three groups. This makes it possible to better match the keywords, search queries, ad copy, and landing pages – which leads to higher Quality Scores, lower costs, more profit.

[Manoj]: What is the cost of ClickEquations?

[Alex Cohen]: The ClickEquations fee is based on how much you spend on paid search. It’s typically in the 2%-3% range with a minimum fee of $1,000 per month. Check out our pricing page for full details. Agencies get a discount, because all of their clients’ spend counts toward their total. We have no setup costs and support is free.

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