Always go with the data

Continuing on the subject of targeting adverts to different geographical regions, it’s worth a reminder to not make the common mistake of confusing response volume with value for money. We occasionally hear new clients saying things like: “We get a lot of website visits from the West Midlands, so we should target the budget there”, or “We don’t need to advertise in Scotland, as we never get many visits from there”.

The obvious error here is forgetting that you only get charged for the clicks, so if you never get many in a certain place (or for a certain keyword), you’re not being charged much and won’t save anything worthwhile by stopping it anyway. If you’re advertising in Scottish Blue Widgets magazine and English Blue Widgets magazine, and the latter gets ten times the response of the former but the ads only cost twice as much, you may be right to concentrate on the latter. But with pay-per-click ads, the cost of the Scottish clicks would probably be a tenth of the former, so applying traditional thinking doesn’t work. It could even be counterproductive if the Scottish cost-per-click was cheaper.

That’s the easy mistake to make, and you’re probably thinking it’s an obvious point. Far more important is analysing the value of the clicks. It’s all about the ‘conversions’! After all, if you advertised in Scottish Blue Widgets magazine and English Blue Widgets magazine, and the Scottish advert got the same number of good enquiries as the English one but at half of the cost, you’d be happier with the Scottish advert. Similarly, with pay-per-click ads, it’s all about the conversions – and these can be as simple as counting the clicks resulting in a visit to the site which can be classified as “engaged”. Suppose you spend £10 in Scotland for 5 clicks (£2/click), and £75 in England for 50 clicks (£1.50/click); the English campaign may seem better value for money. But if 50% of the Scottish clicks result in the visitor showing interest, compared to 25% in England, the Scottish campaign (£4/conversion) is better value than the English one (£6/conversion).

I know this is all pretty basic stuff, but it’s surprising how often we see people making the same mistakes. Always go with the data.