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0 Conversion & $10,000 spent on Adwords

Help with adwords conversions on Travel site



10:36 pm on Apr 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Let me start by saying I have run many adwords campaigns, many as high as $500K a month. But NEVER have a run into something like the travel package industry. I have been contracted by a company &
we have started a great PPC campaign the keywords are all exact match, they are targeted , we have 2-3 version of landing pages, great prices but no conversions : 0. We have spent 10K and 0, I dont get it. Not to mention that the owners are bretahing down my neck for results. I dont know what to do. Can someone help! Please , we are a company specializing in Mexico Travel packages, and from using & competetive research sites, I know Im using the same keywords and even more targeted ones, clicks and traffic not the problem. Conversions are! Please help!

[edited by: skibum at 3:45 am (utc) on April 7, 2007]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]


11:03 pm on Apr 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

There's no doubt that the links will get zapped by a mod.

Here's some general advice.

Have you tried to use the site as a visitor would?

Try the search system, doe it work? Does it return rubbish results? Does it return any results?

Many people will search on the site even if you show them the best results for them, it re-assures them that they are getting the widest choice.


Are you competitive? Is the pricing simple? (don't complicate things with rebates etc.. people can be put off by pricing which isn't 100% clear)

$10K is a lot to burn through without a conversion, I'm guessing you have done all of this research before getting to -$10K. If you have not then you should quit this campaign as the travel industry is very tricky and you have too much to learn.

It's about much more than bringing visitors.


12:17 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Maybe there's something wrong with this company's conversion process. Try a test transaction...


6:28 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Are you using Google analytics? What are the users doing once they arrive at the page? Is the page loading OK in IE, Firefox etc. Are you getting a lot of traffic for one particular keyword that is not converting? Look at their competition - what are they doing that your client isn't.

I'm sure you've done all the above - but just in case. Otherwise $10K and no ROI - why has it got to that level? Are they not feeding back information to you?

Is it possible the traffic is picking up the phone after visiting the site and not using online email etc? Therefore they are not counting that traffic?


3:32 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

A newer travel site might not be trusted by visitors.

Also, most people who go on a vacation might look for 6 months before they book a trip.


6:05 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Wow, I wish I had 10K to burn up! :-) I think the last point is the key, if the prices are competitve, why aren't the visitors trusting you with their money?


7:26 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

yeah, if the ads are bringing in the visitors, then there are only two things it could be 1) it's either got to be a problem with the site itself, in that it's not very good at converting sales, or 2) you are not tracking them through to the end of the sale.

what are the ads promoting. are they promoting one specific holiday? on a certain set of dates? to a specific hotel? or something like that?

because everyone who arrives at the site will have different dates they want to go, different hotels they want to stay at, different airports they want to fly from, different airlines they want to fly with. there are so many variables in travel. it's not like selling a car.

maybe they come off the landing page and end up buying something slightly different to everyone else, and drop off the radar.

or maybe they do buy something - but not until they've slept on it. do you have cookies to track them into the next day? holidays typically cost a lot of money, and people are less likely to spend out on a first visit.


1:00 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

OK I will try to detail the specifics of the campaign and possibly that way, I can get more detailed advice. Thank you all for your suggestions.

I have 5 main campaigns:

Example Campaign:

Hotel names (1500 Keywords) Exact, Phrase $500/Day Avg CPC 1.27
All inclusive (900 Keywords) Exact, Phrase $500/Day Avg CPC 1.27
Vacation Packages (2500 Keywords) Exact,Phrase $500/Day Avg CPC 1.27
Beach resorts (1500 Keywords)Exact, Phrase $500/Day Avg CPC 1.27

Each going to keyword specifc landing pages using dynamic keyword insertion. The landing pages have a special relevant to the keywords, the site is functional, the booking engine is functional. The site is clean and not clutered. We have followed the best practices from Marketing Sherpa's Landing Page Handbook.

I have had our reps at Google look over the account, they gave us the thumbs up! Dont know exactly what to make of that! But in regards to pricing, its as good or better than our top 5 competitors. Which I dont count the larger travel sites because their in a whole other leauge, I am comparing keywords thru competetive research programs, and have a fairly robust list of keywords, compiled thru competitors keywords, wordtracker, google tool, digital point, and seo book tool.

Manualy grouped them into relevent ad groups, developed targeted landing pages with relevent competetive content and specials.

and Inbound: yes , actually this is the research. Thats why Im asking around for some input. The projected daily spend for PPC for our site is 15-30k per day. That seems to be the norm within this industry. Monstrous marketing budgets! And yes, the Travel online marketing industry is very tricky. I mean, ofcourse, it makes up by itself for 40% of online marketing ad revenue.

anymore ideas, feedback or criticism would be greatly appreciated.


1:02 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


sorry to he forum mods for adding the links, Im kinda oblivious to things sometimes. Mea culpa. Now I know not to do it anymore. Thanks-


1:07 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

did you sign up yourself and see that it works beginning to end?


2:44 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

yes I have tested the site from home page to completion of sale, as well as from landing page to completion.

Not just once, several times, with several destinations and combinations of services.

Also we are using analytics to track all the traffic and the server logs. I look at top entrance, exit, top content, site overlay, length of visit, depth of visit, funnel process, etc..
It seems as if people are just dropping off after 2-3 minutes. Any idea on avg. bounce rates?


4:34 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

1. Be very careful of where you target your advertisements. If your site is wrote in english, you would not want your ads showing in China.

2. Also, you do not have to be number one in each keyword, try to put yourself at number 2, it will cut some cost.

3. Target very specific keywords, not broad keywords.

4. Look at conversion data, an example of our eccommerce sites typically only convert during the week, Monday through Friday 8am EST- 6pm EST. We made the decision long ago to only advertise during those times and not advertise on weekends. It cut our advertising costs in half and we still have the same conversions.

5. Sign up for the pay per action.


7:35 pm on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just a question, prior to the use of adwords, did they ever get sales processed entirely via the web?


12:40 am on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for all the feedback-

and no prior to PPC , there was nothing. PPC is the initial phase of the strategy. SInce it usually works immediately.

The keywords are fairly targeted, 3-4 words per phrase, except for like: "cancun vacation", etc, etc..


4:10 am on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So the google reps loved the account? LOL

They love anything that will bring them in big bucks.

The travel industry is very tough. Quite a few surfers and not many real buyers. As I am in competition with you, I'm not about to make you and your clients money, but your focus is in the wrong area. Sorry, but I can't expand on that, (not for free anyhow...)

Good luck!


11:40 am on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Are you using Google Analytics to track conversions?


11:51 am on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A good question in this thread that wasn't replied to:
Geo-targeting - US only, Europe? specific countries?

also Language settings - English only?

I would add:
negative keywords:
cheap / discount? (if you are not looking for value shoppers)


1:22 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hey guys,

I am a publisher and an adword user, but here is my feedback to you.

Adword users should really think about the landing pages, there are so many poor landing pages out there.

Poor landing pages will not make conversions.


1:37 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hiccup thanks for the advice-or lack off! Im sure it would really hurt you and your company alot to offer some small kernal of advice.

We are a fairly small company in comparison to other companies. Eben the smallest bit of direction or advice would help.

and yes we are geo targeting soley to the US, and using english as the language.

In regards to the Google guys, yeah they are a laugh! Now they say they to are concerned with lack of conversion, whats their suggestion?

"Have a 3rd pair of eyes look at it"

lets see! some on help!


2:31 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Is this the first time you have used AdW for Mexico travel? We also used to run some travel sites, MX included, and our sales' conversions for travel packages were dismal. PPC just did not work. Probably not what you want to hear but your experience sounds familiar and we never did figure out why no one would buy.


2:46 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Um, no conversions after $10k? You have the traffic, but is it quality traffic clicking on your ads? Since your selling vacation packages, I would not be bidding on hotel terms (per your example), unless you are adding vacation package to the keyword (and vacations, and vacation packages - don't forget your plurals!)
Very little said about negative keywords - a list of negative terms can sometimes exceed the number of keywords your bidding on.
Check your site for the following:
    stronger calls to action
    all links properly working
    have a custom 404 page
    have a visible phone number to call and book
    track conversions off the site (phone orders)
    list assurances (privacy policy, hackersafe, BBB, etc.) near the checkout/buy now button
    offer testimonials
    absolutely no grammatical errors
    improve your sales copy - have it professionally done
    all costs are clearly shown and understandable

Good luck!


3:26 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Is any of your traffic coming from the content network? I would opt out of the content network, and search network, and just concentrate on getting a conversion from pure google search. As much as Google denies it - a lot of bogus traffic comes from their search network.

Also - Have you done any split testing with site design? With that much traffic and no conversions, it sounds like a site design problem to me.

One other thing - If your conversion process involves any type of email confirmations, you may want to check around to see if the site you are promoting is on any of the spam lists - or if the wording of your sent emails has any verbiage that would trigger spam filters.


4:46 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Maybe nobody wants to go there...


4:54 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Understanding our clients goals will eliminate much stress in the end.

A few things that concern me about your current dilemma. First, you are spending $10,000 on a failing Google ad words campaign. Second, your customer is breathing down your neck because you haven't produced results.

Both are easily avoidable with clarity on the project at hand. When everyone above talks about "landing pages" you need to make sure those page are true "landing pages".

1. Easy to understand (written in English or the targeted language.)
2. Gives clear instructions on how to navigate your web pages (The exact web pages the customer needs to navigate to make a purchase.)
3. Has a clear path to the final check out process (closing page)
4. Has an alternative action, if sale isn't made (i.e. User Accounts, Newsletter Registration...) some form of lead generation.
5. Offers are clear, precise and not inundated with other offers. - Many travel site make the mistake of offering too much on one page and lose the customer because the choice just isn't clear.

Keep it Simple!

If you purchase "cancun vacation" keywords, land the visitor on the Cancun vacations page that sells just that. Do not push Cabo San Lucas or some out of the way destination like the Carribean, the visitor wants a Cancun Vacation, so give it to him.

Limit the customers choice to 2 or 3 options, you don't want him/her to have too many options that they decide they can't decide and want to shop around. (In the travel industry, shopping around is a natural occurrence - we all do it.)

Delving into your second dilemma, many search marketers make the big mistake of over promising and under delivering. If you take a website that has had few or no results through organic search, that's a flag that need to do some research, before you start plugging that money away. (You should always research regardless of that flag) Research will help your client understand the issues that might affect a Search Campaign. The travel industry, the search habits of the potential customer, the major competitors websites, and the pricing and offers should be a part of your research.

Before you sit in front of your client with your research, you need to come up with what I call a "CMA" (Cover My A**) plan. The CMA plan doesn't mean, lie and hide behind the research - it's essentially a plan that deploys another form or forms of conversions (see above.) I do this mainly due to market research results "the average time it takes to make a sale online is 30-90 days". That's a long time after that initial ad click and not something that can be easily monitored without some sophisticated analytics. I monitor Bookmarks and utilize those numbers to show that I'm actually performing the act to conversion, I take in newsletter registrations, I do sign-up for more discounts etc... there are more than one way to convert users, and lead generation is perhaps the most forgotten aspect of the end sale result.

Go back and look through your campaign(s) and determine what's going on, visitors are obviously clicking your ad! Now you need to determine where they are clicking out of your landing page. Use crazyegg dot com to assist here, and make sure you have Google Analytics as well. Both are very helpful in determining what is truly happening with these visitors.

By educating your customer on the research you've done, you'll eliminate the finger pointing and blame at the end. Often times, your client may stand up during the discovery/research meeting and give you more ideas and ammunition to help you make those conversions.

[edited by: Asianne at 4:56 pm (utc) on April 9, 2007]


4:56 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

yes I have tested the site from home page to completion of sale, as well as from landing page to completion.
Not just once, several times, with several destinations and combinations of services.

OK, but you need to test by clicking on an ad and then going through the entire process to completion.

From what I've been reading so far, it sounds like sales may be made, but there could be some problem connecting sales to visitors that came in through AdWords.


6:24 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a few comments. I work in a different industry, but I think the principle is the same.

1. Always opt out of the content network. The traffic you get is generally bad. If there are specific sites you want your ad displayed on, do a site-based campaign and specifically define those sites.
2. Make sure your sales pages are tagged properly with the Google conversion tag. It's not clear whether you have done this, so I added this.
3. Make sure your web analytics platform is correctly triggered when a conversion is made.

Until you figure this out, I would recommend stopping your campaigns and running some tests. Make sure conversions are tracking correctly before spending the amount of money you are discussing. The last thing you want to do is spend your client's money needlessly.


7:09 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

how much is your average cost per click


9:08 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Got any testimonials from actual customers? If these are specialty vacations maybe people would like to hear from those who have purchased from you and their experiences.

When I travel for business more often than not I just look for the cheapest flight and the most convenient hotel to the airport.

But when I travel for pleasure with the family I do a lot more research and really like to hear from other people who have been there or have chosen the EXACT SAME package I am thinking of.

Of course without knowing your site you may very well have this in place.

Another thought, what about having comparison charts with your prices and those of your Competition? If you are less expensive it may really help out. People love to see things compared even for no particular reason. I have tested this out a lot. Find an angle that is important to your customer base that you outshine the competition and then setup some comparisons. People eat it up in my experience.


11:23 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Didn't read the whole thing, but remembered an incident worth postin.

We run a niche portal, and a number of months back a company purchased direct banner advertising on our site. I've looked at their landing page, and couldn't figure out what it actually did...yeah, I did after a few minutes figuring it out, and knowing the advertiser ... Ads were clicked, users went to their site... Advertiser never came back to extend, I guess conversions were next to 0.

A few months later, the same company came around again, different marketing guys. They've purchased another round...err..month of advertising :) (we are one of the biggies in the niche). I've looked at their landing page, and again it was again completely unclear, they've added voice recording in a language native to our visitors...

I guess they've spent so much time on their website and campaigns, that they don't understand that someone from outside might not understand what they are offering.

You can guess how the second campaign went - they didn't renew.


11:50 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I might be tempted to put something like livechat on the landing page and see where and why you are losing them , doesn't matter to much if they are not converting anyway but may give some feedback.

Also I think you may be the wrong person to check or at least not the only person , pull somebody off the street if you have to or 2 or 3 ranging in age demographics to go from add to order etc even with big discount on the holiday package , there has to be some show stopper that only show to the unweb savvy


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