Thanks for visiting the original Drilling Down web site!  

The advice and discussion continue on the Marketing Productivity Blog and Twitter: @jimnovo

Read the book-
First 9 Chapters: pdf

Get the book at Booklocker.com

Relationship Marketing, Customer Loyalty, and Retention book

Customers Speak Up on Book & Site

Workshops, Project Work: Retail Metrics & Reporting, High ROI
Customer Marketing

Fresh Customer
Marketing Articles

8 Customer
Promotion Tips

Relationship
Marketing

Customer Retention

Customer Loyalty

High ROI Customer
Marketing: 3 Key
Success Components

LifeTime Value and
True ROI of Ad Spend

Customer Profiling

Intro to Customer
Behavior Modeling

Customer Model:
Frequency

Customer Model:
Recency

Customer Model:
Recent Repeaters

Customer Model:
RFM

Customer LifeCycles

LifeTime Value

Calculating ROI

Mapping Visitor
Conversion

Measuring Retention
in Online Retailing

Measuring CRM ROI

CRM Analytics:
Micro vs. Macro

Pre-CRM Testing for
Marketing ROI

Customer
Behavior Profiling

See Customer
Behavior Maps


Favorite Drilling
Down Web Sites

Book Contents

Contact Jim Novo

Questions? Call
(cell) 727.895.5454

 

Drilling Down

Turning Customer Data into Profits

 with a Spreadsheet

Site and Book topic:

Maximizing marketing ROI with customer behavior analysis

 


Learn Methods, Metrics
(site map)

[ Home ]    [ FAQ ]    [ Download   [ Contact / About / Privacy ]

This is the faster loading site for slow connections.  The "pretty" version of this page is here.


Pay per Click ROI: Subsidy Costs with High Ranking Organic Links
Drilling Down Newsletter # 64: 2 / 2006

Drilling Down - Turning Customer
Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet
*************************
Customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection

Get the Drilling Down Book!
http://www.booklocker.com/jimnovo

Prior Newsletters:
http://www.drilling-down.com/newsletters.htm
-------------------------------

In This Issue:

# Topics Overview

# Best Customer Retention Articles

# Pay per Click ROI: Subsidy Costs with High Ranking Organic Links

Topics Overview

Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.

Are you doing any PPC advertising for search phrases where you also have a high Organic ranking in the search engine for the same phrase?  If so, you might be able to save yourself a ton of money using the simple test described in this newsletter.  We've also got a couple of great customer marketing links, one on the art of customer segmentation and one on the analytically-driven enterprise.

Let's get at that Drillin'!


Best Customer Retention Articles
====================

Build Profit With Customer Segmentation
February 12, 2006  DM News

Arthur Middleton Hughes, a legend in the DM business, serves up an extremely complete description of all that should go into a proper customer segmentation plan.  Need some help with defining those segments?  To get the most actionable results, do not start with product and / or demographic characteristics; start with segmenting by behavior.

Competing on Analytics
February 20, 2006  Optimize Magazine

Now you're talking.  This article blends some of the thinking in my "Six Sigma Everything" presentation to the 2005 eMetrics Summit and my article Creating Analytical Cultures, but from a different perspective.  To the traditional list of business differentiators - product innovation, customer intimacy and operational excellence -  can we add "analytics", meaning superior knowledge about customers and processes?  Some in the web analytics community, for example here and here, seem to disagree with the core idea of "enterprise analytics".  Well, I've seen this movie before, and I can tell the difference between "reporting" and "analysis".  The first is non-rigorous and is built solidly around the principle of CYA.  The second yields real intelligence on a macro scale.


Questions from Fellow Drillers
=====================

Pay per Click ROI: Subsidy Costs with High Ranking Organic Links

Q:  Hey, Jim-

I'd like to know HOW the effectiveness of PPC ads can be tested if your site is already #1 or #2 in the organic search rankings.  Let's say I discover that if I spend nothing on PPC, people still see my site on all their search results -- yes, below the three sponsored listings -- but high above the fold.

By opting to go organic-only, sure, you're guaranteed to lose a few clicks.   BUT, if my PPC + Organic -> Organic-Only click drop-off is only 5% or so, can I really justify a $500,000 PPC campaign for my client if I know that number of lost clicks is worth only $25,000?

I guess what I'm saying is that the only results from a PPC campaign that matter are the incremental clicks that paid search provides beyond organic search.  And if those incremental results aren't significantly higher, it's a lot harder for me to justify the spend... 'ego spending' of course aside.

A: Yes, ego spending and the "best practice" from offline media of "allocating credit" for a sale to a certain media despite a lack of proof the media should get any credit at all...

The question you are begging if you are optimizing profits as opposed to sales or "exposure" is this: where is true breakeven on the PPC?  This of course depends on the margin of the business and the cost of the click, but there are several other dynamics in play, including the following:

1. The tendency of a 1st ranking PPC to deliver sub-optimal ROI due to "sport-clicking" by causal / newbie "surfers"

2. The tendency of lower-ranking PPC to deliver higher ROI due to bid gaps and (often) dramatically lower costs

3. The tendency of "deep searchers" - people who click on lower ranking organic and PPC links - to be further into the research cycle / more likely to convert to final objective

So, for example, take this 2003 test.  A page ranked organically as #2 for a certain high volume phrase.  This same page content was used to create a landing page for a PPC campaign using the same search phrase.  The test was conducted in March, neutral seasonality for this business.

With a #1 PPC ranking, the PPC campaign generated 11% in incremental sales with a 60-day latency tail but had a negative 12% ROI on margin minus overhead (note specific use of the word incremental, which I will explain further below).  When this same listing was dropped down to "deep shoppers" at PPC rank #4 (in this case, 1st ad at bottom of Yahoo page), it generated 4% incremental sales with a 1786% ROI on margin minus overhead for the same 60-day latency tail. That's almost 18 : 1 payout.  Without the tail (first conversion only), it was 623% (~ 7 :1).

In addition, the "deep shopper" segment on average had a 70% repeat purchase rate as opposed to 58% for the #1 PPC position.  So even the "tail of the tail" was better at position 4.  This was on the highest volume search phrase for the site, so it made a huge impact on overall profitability.  Remember, the landing pages for both the high ranking Organic link and the #1 ranking PPC link were exactly the same - layout, copy, all of it.

Now, the reason I specifically used the word incremental is we had control, which allowed us to prove out the real financial dark side of using PPC with Top 3 ranking Organic listings.

When the #1 ranking PPC ran with the #2 Organic link, the sales volume coming from the PPC link ran about 43% versus 57% for the organic link.  This ties pretty closely with some recent studies on click behavior (on average, 60% click organic, 40% click paid).

But dig what this really means: if incremental sales are 11% versus control (no PPC) and sales volume with PPC is 43% PPC, that means nearly 77% of PPC sales were stolen from the organic side - they would have happened anyway without the PPC link.  So about 3/4 of the PPC clicks are pure subsidy cost - costs incurred to make a sale when the sale would have been made anyway.

Factor this "media cannibalization" into ROI, and now we're down around negative 48% ROI for the test #1 ranking PPC with organic at #2.  For every $1 we spend we lose 48 cents - 12 cents in tangible ROI, and 36 cents in "Opportunity ROI" - ROI we won't get because we wasted the click budget by not using it to buy "real" incremental clicks.   

Hey, just increase the budget, we'll make it up on volume!  This is what makes me insane about the "best practice" of allocating credit to a certain media when a visitor has been exposed to both.  Most of the time, it simply drives inflated budgets.  Oh, let's not forget the "ego spending"...

But honestly, I'm not sure the average person doing web traffic reporting would even think about the possibility of subsidy costs, because they have never done subsidy analysis and probably are not even aware of the issue.  They just report on what the traffic is up to.  

Heck, even most marketing folks probably don't know about it, unless they are database marketers.  It's a common issue in many programs, especially best customer programs and the costs can be huge, so I guess I just have an eye for seeing it and testing for it.

Q:  Can you think of a solid way this incrementality could be tested for?

A:  "Solid" way?  Well, I guess that would depend on the technology that was available and the sales volume you are talking about. Not sure you can truly "A / B / C" it without some significant bid management / search engine API technology.  I'm not sure the engines would give up that kind of control - though I bet THEY have tested it at some level.

The above test was a 3 week manual "alternating days" test on Overture for a store with 500K - $1 million annual sales and average order size about $72, so there wasn't a lot of room for high tech tools.

If you run A on Monday, B on Tuesday, control / C on Wednesday, then start over with A on Thursday and continue this rotation, the following Monday B will run and on Tuesday C will run etc., so by the end of 3 weeks you will have A, B, and Control data normalized by day - both campaigns and control ran on every day of the week.  Not a statistically pure method, but not horrible practice, for sure - and cheap!

If the result spread (test versus control) is significant enough, as it was on this test, I'll give up points in accuracy to get closer to the "directional truth".  Each of the top 30 search phrases where there was a top 3 organic ranking for the phrase was optimized in this way with the results very directionally consistent across all phrases.  It was almost always more profitable to have a lower than #1 paid ranking when a top 3 organic ranking was present.  Below the Top 30 phrases, some of the lower volume phrases produced inconsistent results which was probably a result of test method error / lack of frequency.

While it may not be "practical" for large scale retailers to test like this, you would think for certain high volume phrases it would be worth poking around it a bit given the potential for cost savings.  Definitely not worth thinking about if sales is the focus, because (probably unprofitable) sales will be lost without the #1 PPC listing, for sure.

Of course, changes in the way paid listings are displayed (often related to how many bidders there are) can change the outcome of this test.  The results on Google were also directionally consistent though less dramatic.  I assume this is because of the different PPC display approach versus Yahoo, but perhaps also due to some of the "alchemy" Google uses to rank PPC ads, which are more difficult to control on Google.

And for sure, there are reasons people buy PPC other than to drive profits, so being #1 may be worth it, but the true costs should be quantified through a test like this.  Without question, if I was going to "allocate credit" for conversion to a media, I would insist on doing a test like this so that the allocation does not turn out to be pie-in-the-sky.  

In this case, credit was being given to PPC using an allocation model, as opposed to the true incrementality, with the result that the PPC budgets were tremendously inflated.  Web analytics reporting would not uncover this issue; you have to understand the potential human behavior involved and be able to conjure up the thesis for an analysis.  Then you have to figure out how to test the thesis.

Not that I'm a genius or anything, I'm pretty sure other professional database marketers and analysts have already discovered this subsidy effect.  But what happens a lot in a data-driven environment is the discoveries are so mission-critical, so potentially valuable from a competitive standpoint that they are not discussed in "public" because of the liability and potential company backlash.  Me, I don't have that issue because it's not obvious where the data is coming from.  However, you'll notice I waited until 2006 to talk about a test that happened back in 2003.... ;)

Jim

-------------------------------
If you are a consultant, agency, or software developer with clients needing action-oriented customer intelligence or High ROI Customer
Marketing program designs, click here
-------------------------------

That's it for this month's edition of the Drilling Down newsletter.  If you like the newsletter, please forward it to a friend!  Subscription instructions are top and bottom of this page.

Any comments on the newsletter (it's too long, too short, topic suggestions, etc.) please send them right along to me, along with any other questions on customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, and Defection here.

'Til next time, keep Drilling Down!

- Jim Novo

Copyright 2006, The Drilling Down Project by Jim Novo.  All rights reserved.  You are free to use material from this newsletter in whole or in part as long as you include complete credits, including live web site link and e-mail link.  Please tell me where the material will appear. 

What would you like to do now?

Get the book with Free customer scoring software at:

Booklocker.com     Amazon.com     Barnes & Noble.com

Find Out Specifically What is in the Book

Learn Customer Marketing Models and Metrics (site article list)

 
 

Note: This is the "slow connection" version of the home site.  It's intentionally sparse design allows faster page downloads.  To access this content in what some say is a more visually appealing format, click here.

Questions about any of the concepts on this site?  Call (cell) 727.895.5454.  Or e-mail me.

What Will I Learn
in the Book?

About the Author
Newsletter Sign-Up

Example of the
Drilling Down Method

See Drilling Down
Results in Action

Relationship Marketing
Customer Retention

Customer Loyalty

Get the Book
with Free Software!
(Booklocker.com)

Fresh Drilling Down
Related Articles

Advanced Customer
Modeling Articles

       [ Home ]    [ FAQ ]    [ Download ]    [ About / Contact / Privacy ]  

Welcome to the original Drilling Down web site;
recent advice and discussion are on the Marketing Productivity Blog and Twitter.

Contact me (Jim Novo) for questions or problems regarding this web site.   
Copyright 2000 - 2018  The Drilling Down Project. All rights reserved.  Privacy Policy.