Drive Quality in PPC with Day-Parting: When and How It’s Effective

Many PPC clients and marketers see value in volume when it comes to paid search. We get a little excited when we see an account set a new record for clicks in a month. We wish it were that easy and that every click resulted in a desired action. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case.

It’s not always about clicks - it’s about what happens afterward. The timing of that click has a huge impact on whether or not searchers are taking action on your products and making your cost-per-click result in a return on investment.

Day-parting is one way to control your paid search budgets and get an optimal return during peak hours of the day. Wondering if your ad schedule is in need of an update? Are conversions lagging at 3 a.m. or are they right on par with noon? Use these reports in Analytics and Adwords to find out if day-parting is right for your account and take action.

Find Out if Day-Parting out Weekends Is Right for You

Consumers behave very differently Monday-Friday than they do on the weekend. For some businesses, the weekend is an excellent time to run paid search. For others, the weekends are much slower. Dig into Google Analytics and create a custom report with “day of week” as your secondary dimension. Take a look at the traffic. Is weekend traffic comparable to the work week? What about user engagement metrics?

For one of our B2B clients, the weekends (in the graphic below, 0 = Sunday, 7 = Saturday) receive far less traffic than the work week. Traffic isn’t everything, though. For this particular client, the bounce rate is noticeably higher Saturday and Sunday, while Pages/session and Avg. session duration are much, much shorter than the work week.

Human nature doesn’t exactly have people thinking about B2B products and services on weekends. Even if CPC is lower on the weekends, these engagement metrics almost guarantee a low conversion rate and unnecessary costs piling up two out of seven days a week. Set up this report and know from the start whether or not your ads should be running seven days a week.

Day of Week Day-Parting

Conversion rates are also an important metric. On weekends, most sites generally receive less impressions, so naturally, your conversions will decrease as well. This is where conversion rate – or the number of conversions divided by clicks comes into play.

It comes down to quality vs. quantity when deciding on a day-parting strategy. If the bounce rate is significantly higher on the weekends, your conversion rate will most likely be significantly lower and cost/conversion will be higher. Don’t throw money away just because your audience isn’t as attentive on the weekends.

To find this in Adwords, go to the Dimensions tab and add columns for conversion rate and cost/conversion.

Weekends can positively impact paid search, particularly for e-commerce businesses. In the example below, notice the conversion rate is relatively consistent seven days a week, as is the average cost/conversion.

day of week day-parting

Figuring Out Your Optimal Hours

Just as it’s important to filter out days of the week from your paid search advertising efforts, time of day is an important metric to take into account as well.

Find out when clicks are the most affordable, when engagement is the highest and when individuals are the most likely to convert.

You may want to run ads from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but what if a core group of your audience is searching for your products before and after work? Find out when people are visiting your website in analytics and when people are clicking your ads in Adwords. Make adjustments when necessary. You may find visits are relatively consistent between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and then drop off considerably after that. You never know until you look, and the results may surprise you.

Use the exact same Dimensions report in Adwords, but change your view to “Hour of Day.” Look at average cost-per-click alongside your cost-per-conversion. Generally speaking, you should avoid high CPC hours of the day and high cost/conversion hours of the day. Don’t let average position scare you, because you can implement bid modifiers to support a higher average position during peak, conversion-friendly hours.

In this example, it’s no surprise CPC is higher after midnight, likely because branded traffic is down significantly outside of the work day. Given the higher cost-per-click and number of conversions from midnight to 8 a.m. (when conversions spike considerably) a campaign like this one may benefit from a good night’s sleep.

conversions by hour day-parting

Change your strategy for peak seasons

During the holiday season, many advertisers ramp up their overall efforts considerably. You may notice more Toys R’ Us commercials on TV right after Thanksgiving. You may get more circulars in the mail. Those circulars may also advertise that Best Buy is extending their store hours until Midnight on Christmas Eve.

Your PPC, just like any other form of advertising should do the same, especially if you market an e-commerce business.

If you have a typical day-parting schedule in place, but ramp up business in time for the holidays, review last year’s traffic in analytics and compare it to a typical month. Consider changing your day-parting strategy accordingly. Day-parting is an excellent way to conserve your budget and eliminate unnecessary clicks that don’t drive conversions. If you are able to identify the most cost-effective times and days to run your paid search campaigns and then take action on those insights, you are a step ahead of many advertisers.

Want help developing a paid search strategy that drives more than just clicks? Partner with SteadyRain and let us create a thorough PPC plan for your business. Contact us today!