I’m always happy to hear when clients want to expand their web­site test­ing pro­grams and include other areas like paid search SEM. There are four com­mon ways peo­ple test SEM com­bined with Adobe’s Test&Target test­ing platform.

Sce­nario 1 – Impor­tant first step is to set up a report­ing ‘segment’

This first rec­om­mended sce­nario may not be as intu­itive as the typ­i­cal test sce­nario where all SEM traf­fic gets its own A/B/n test. It is impor­tant to first answer the ques­tion: ‘Do SEM vis­i­tors behave dif­fer­ently than the rest of the vis­i­tors?’ If so, then in what ways are they different?

To gather this data, first cre­ate an A/B/n test to all of your vis­i­tors, includ­ing paid search vis­i­tors. Then set up a report­ing seg­ment for your paid search SEM traf­fic. Once the test runs you can see the win­ning test expe­ri­ence for your over­all pop­u­la­tion and you can com­pare it to the per­for­mance of the SEM traf­fic. If one test experience/variation wins for you over­all vis­i­tors and a dif­fer­ent experience/variation wins for your SEM vis­i­tors, then you now have data show­ing that these two groups behave differently.

One vari­a­tion of this sce­nario is to cre­ate mul­ti­ple SEM report­ing seg­ments inside the T&T inter­face. For exam­ple, set up a report­ing seg­ment for all branded key­words, set up a seg­ment for each product/category, and then a seg­ment for all SEM.

Any page with T&T mbox code on it will auto­mat­i­cally read in the URL text of that page. Cre­ate a report­ing seg­ment inside T&T and set it to track vis­i­tors when their land­ing page URL con­tains the SEM URL track­ing para­me­ter (e.g. “trackingId=”, “SEM=brandedKeywords”, “cid=”, or some other para­me­ter that is unique to all paid search).

Sce­nario 2 – A test tar­geted only to SEM traffic

This is the typ­i­cal test sce­nario where the A/B/n test is cre­ated to only be shown to SEM paid search traf­fic. All that is needed is the T&T mbox code on any page of your site where SEM traf­fic will be land­ing. Sim­ply set up a test cam­paign and tar­get the cam­paign to only show to traf­fic when the vis­i­tor lands with a par­tic­u­lar URL para­me­ter. As men­tioned above, this is typ­i­cally the track­ing ID of SEM cam­paigns but it can also be any text string inside the URL.

The test con­tent above can be shown on just the land­ing page or across the entire site. For return­ing vis­i­tors, you can choose whether to show or not show the test con­tent again.

Sce­nario 3 – A test that excludes SEM traffic

Some­times the SEM test­ing and gen­eral test­ing needs to be sep­a­rated. This is eas­ily done by repeat­ing the steps above but this time tar­get the test cam­paign when the URL does not con­tain the URL parameter.

Sce­nario 4 – SEM ad text is being A/B/n tested and you want the web­site con­tent to match the SEM ad text seen.

In this sce­nario, the A/B/n test­ing is at the ad text level and Test&Target is not A/B/n rotat­ing the con­tent. Instead, that rota­tion is con­trolled by your search provider. T&T is show­ing the con­tent that cor­re­sponds to the SEM ad text. For exam­ple, if you are test­ing the SEM ad text ‘Free 2 week sub­scrip­tion’ vs. ’10% off monthly sub­scrip­tion’, then the land­ing page and other site pages can show con­tent cor­re­spond­ing to those two versions.

The eas­i­est way to imple­ment this is to add a dif­fer­ent URL para­me­ter to the end of each ad text’s des­ti­na­tion URL. (For exam­ple, www.yoursite.com?NormalURLparametersHere&SEMtest=A vs. www.yoursite.com?NormalURLparametersHere&SEMtest=B.) With this approach you can then tar­get each expe­ri­ence in T&T with the cor­re­spond­ing unique parameter.

All this func­tion­al­ity to cre­ate test­ing rules around the URL is all built in and fairly easy to set up inside Test&Target. Addi­tion­ally, T&T offers spe­cific key­word tar­get­ing if you don’t want to use the URL para­me­ter. Fur­ther­more, you can also expand this con­cept beyond paid search to other adver­tis­ing channels.

Paid Search is typ­i­cally a very impor­tant part of a company’s mar­ket­ing pro­gram and a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the mar­ket­ing bud­get is going into it. Test­ing and opti­miz­ing this pro­gram will help you to get the most ROI from it.