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PPC Tip: The Difference Between Sorting and Filtering

Time for another PPC quick tip…

Use Sorting and Filtering Aggressively to Make PPC Reports Actionable

Sorting & filtering are two powerful tools for preventing data paralysis and turning mounds of data into actionable insights. Today’s PPC platforms give you access to so much data that if you aren’t using sorting and filtering it’s virtually impossible to get any value out of reporting.

Do you know the difference between sorting and filtering? They seem similar on the surface but they actually work very differently and are useful in different scenarios.

Here’s a quick rundown of both and how to use them in your PPC reporting…


Sorting takes a set of data and sorts it by a chosen metric or letter. The most important difference is that sorting does not remove entries from the data set. Sorting only puts the data into a new order.

For example, if you want to see which of your ads generated the most conversions you can sort by the ‘Conversions‘ column.

Or if you want to see which ad is eating up the most budget you can sort by the ‘Spend‘ column.

You can also sort by other useful metrics like:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR (click-through rate)

Sorting is a powerful way to look at all the data in an ad group or campaign without feeling paralyzed by the amount of information. Using sorting you can quickly make optimizations to your ads account and find out what is or isn’t working based on your success criteria (clicks, conversions, CTR, etc.)

In the screenshot below the Facebook ads report is broken out by placement and sorted by Spend meaning it will show the placements that spent the most money first. This lets me quickly see if any placements are eating up too much budget for the conversions they’re driving.


facebook-cost-per-lead-reportScrolling further right in this report shows me that there’s a CPA difference of 31% between mobile and desktop devices. If $2.32 were above my CPA threshold I would then know to pause the mobile ads and reallocate the budget to desktop only.


Filtering on the other hand is useful in a different way.

While sorting will give you the option of choosing which metric you want to prioritize, filtering actually removes data that’s irrelevant to your analysis.

For example…

Lets say you’re working on an AdWords account that has 20 paid search campaign and they’re all a total mess. It has tons of keywords, match types, different ad variations, landing pages, the whole shebang. Most AdWords accounts are mangled and mashed like this so knowing how to filter your data the right way is crucial.

One filter I would run on an account with this type of setup is this:

Filter data by:

  • Cost > $100
  • Conversions > 5

This filter will remove any campaigns that haven’t spent at least $100 and generated at least 5 conversions.


This helps me prioritize which campaigns to focus on.

If a campaign hasn’t gained any traction at all and there’s not much data to look at it’s just going to get in the way. Since I filtered the data down to ONLY campaigns that have spent at least $100 and generated at least 5 conversions I know I have something to work with.


The sky is the limit with filtering though – get creative with it and remember the goal of a solid filter is to remove any data that’s irrelevant to making your campaign convert better or become more profitable.

You can filter by…

  • The type of ad
  • The name of the campaign or ad group
  • Ads that started or ended on a certain date
  • Where the ad ran (placements and websites)
  • Ads above or below a certain number of impressions
  • Ads above or below a certain CTR (click-through rate)
  • Ads above or below a certain number of clicks
  • Ads above or below a certain position
  • Ads that ran in specific geo-targets (city, state, country)
  • Ads that ran on a specific network (google search vs. google partners)

One last pro tip: don’t forget you can filter AND sort at the same time. Using both together is extremely useful for accounts with lots of spend and/or campaigns running.

Having trouble figuring out how to use these in your PPC accounts? Ask yourself what the most logical sorting and filtering combos would be for what you want to accomplish with the campaign. It’s pretty simple when you think about it that way.

Well…That’s all there is to sorting & filtering – hopefully you have a better understanding of each and know how to use them next time you’re doing analysis.

What is a Facebook Dark Post? (And How to Create Your First One)

Wondering what ‘dark posts‘ are on Facebook? A dark post is also known as an unpublished page post. Think about ‘dark posts’ as posts on your fanpage that are only viewable to people you’re targeting in ads. The only way to see a dark post or unpublished page post is to get targeted by an ad with a dark post attached to it.

To simplify that explanation: A dark post looks the exact same as a normal fanpage post or newsfeed ad, it’s simply unpublished from public view. Think about fanpage updates like photos, statuses, offers, events, etc., dark posts are just private versions of these same post types.

What’s the Point of Dark Posts?

There are several…

The most common use is for split testing newsfeed ads. Lets say you want to test 5 different styles of newsfeed creative but don’t want to clog up your fanpage timeline with all the different variations. Publishing each variation as a dark post lets you create & test all 5 variations without alienating or annoying your existing fanbase and adding a bunch of the same content to your fanpage.

The other use for dark posts is if you only want certain people to see the newsfeed ad. For example if you have a special offer for fans that live in California you can create a dark post and target people who are connected to your page that live in California. That way only people that meet the targeting criteria will see the ad and fans from other states will have no idea you’re running the promotion.

How do I Create a Dark Post?

Dark posts can be created in Facebook’s Power Editor.

Step 1: When creating an ad in Power Editor, click the “+” symbol next to your fanpage name:


Step 2: Choose which type of dark post you want to create.

You can create a few types of dark posts on your fanpage:

  • Page Post Link
  • Page Post Photo
  • Page Post Video
  • Page Post Status
  • Page Post Offer


[highlight background=”#333″ color=”#fff”]Remember:[/highlight] these will look the exact same as normal page posts, they just won’t be visible to normal fanpage visitors.

Step 3: Fill in the required fields amd click “Create Post

Step 4: Push your campaigns using the green “Upload Changes” button.


Andddd that’s all there is to creating dark posts on Facebook 🙂

5 Simple Testing Elements That Can Create Huge Conversion Lifts

People tend to overcomplicate conversion rate optimization and think they have to make large scale changes to see any real lift. I like two things in particular: systems and simplicity, those in conjunction have always yielded the best results for the least amount of time in my business. When starting a conversion rate optimization campaign for a new website or client sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to test first and what might make a difference in the KPI you’re trying to improve (sales, leads, engagement, etc.).

When I start working on a new website I run through this list of testing elements first for one reason: these are the easiest tests to implement that have consistently shown the biggest lift in conversions. This testing order will help you incorporate the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule into your testing efforts, isn’t CRO about efficiency after all? If you haven’t started testing yet or haven’t tested any of the elements below, try them out and see how much of an impact they make for your particular website or product.


1.) Call to Action Color

This is probably my favorite element to test on this list because it can make a huge, huge difference in response and conversion rate. If your current call to action blends in with the page or isn’t a contrasting color prospective customers might have a hard time figuring out what they’re supposed to do (and that’s never a good thing, by the way.) This should be the first thing you test on your page if you haven’t already, try a wide array of colors and styles to see what’s really optimal.

Here are 3 call to action buttons that stand out and make it clear what the page wants the visitor to do:



Skype has definitely done their share of testing and landing page redesigns so paying attention to element/design changes they’re implementing over time can give you some great testing ideas. Notice the green in the call to action is the only time that color is used on the page in design elements – this is one of the tried and true best practices of conversion rate optimization. This isn’t exactly a “trade secret” but so many CTA’s use colors that blend with the page, Skype makes it almost painfully obvious how to get started.


Unbounce is another great example of a clean, uncluttered, clear messaged landing page with a strong CTA. Even if you’ve never heard of Unbounce, this one above the fold frame tells you exactly what the product does and what you need to do to start. The orange call to action really sticks out on blue/white/black color scheme and draws the eye immediately.


I can’t forget about the undisputed king of testing…Amazon has tested so many button combinations and page elements it’s almost overwhelming to think about. Even though Amazon product pages have a ton of information you can still clearly see the action you need to take to move forward with your order. The “Amazon button” as some people call it has proven to be effective for Amazon and reaffirms that high contrast is usually the way to go for call to action buttons.

In my personal experience, high contrast buttons outperform buttons that blend in about 90% of the time. (that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test it though!) See what kind of results you can achieve with both types and base your future experiments on your findings.


2.) Call to Action Copy

You understand why testing the design (color/shape/size) of the call to action is important but testing the copy on the CTA can make just as big of a difference when it comes to conversion rates. Different words evoke different emotions and thought processes for certain types of people so testing call to action copy heavily is recommended.


For example using the word “buy” can evoke a negative response because it can make people think about separating themselves from hard earned money. In this example a good CTA copy test would be something like “Buy Now” vs. “Order Now” vs. “Send My Order”.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Buy Now
  • Download Now
  • Download
  • Get Started
  • Order Today
  • Rush My Order
  • Complete Signup
  • Complete Order
  • Reserve My Spot
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Bag
  • Get Your Free Trial
  • Get My Free Trial
  • Submit
  • Start My Subscription
  • Send It Now
  • Sign Me Up

Also test using exclamation marks in your CTA copy – these may or may not work depending on your particular business and industry. For example if the copy “Rush My Order” is working well for you test it against “Rush My Order!” with everything else being identical. The use of the exclamation mark can either be exciting and lift conversions or it can be annoying and turn people off, it all depends on the scenario.


3.) Headlines

Sometimes the headline on your landing page is the only chance you have of capturing a visitors attention so don’t waste the opportunity. There is really no “rule of thumb” that I follow for headlines because so many different types have been proven to work so you need to test this element for your particular business, product, or service.


Try testing:

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  • Long headlines
  • Short headlines
  • Questions (“Who else wants  ___ ?”)
  • Benefit driven headlines (Save money, convert more leads, improve productivity, work from anywhere, etc.)
  • Feature driven headlines (20MB download speeds, lightweight design, 100% cotton, etc.)
  • Time sensitive/urgent headlines (While supplies last, next 30 customers, etc.)
  • Scary headlines (Warning: slow website speeds can kill conversions)

Crafting the perfect headline is an art form in itself and generally takes a lot of testing before you find a true winner. Test your headlines thoroughly and aggressively if you want to really see a lift in conversions.


4.) Sub-Headlines

Even more neglected than the headline is the almighty sub-headline. It’s a shame how many CRO teams don’t even try testing this element and choose to ignore it completely. If used correctly sub-headlines can be both extremely useful and effective; it gives you another chance to reaffirm the prospect is in the right place. The sub-headline is also a great place to establish your value proposition and solidify the prospects decision to do business with you or your company.

For example if your headline was:

“Get the Best A/B Testing Tools Available for Only $49/month”

A sub-headline I would try testing is something like this:

“Our proprietary conversion tools show you the path to higher profits from the same traffic in a way that no other tool can” 

See how that makes the product more appealing? This is where you can really sell prospects without selling – just tell them why your product or service is remarkable and the landing page will do the rest. In this example my headline makes the bold claim of being the best tools available for A/B testing then my sub-headline establishes my value proposition and why you should choose my product over all the competitors. When you have a legitimate value proposition – like proprietary tools that aren’t available anywhere else – you can sway “on the fencers” from doing more research and potentially working with a competitor.

Just like the headline I don’t follow any kind of “rule of thumb” for sub-headlines because I’ve seen all different kinds work effectively – this is just one area where you’re going to have to be creative and test, test, test.


5.) Headline Color


Manipulating color is my favorite way to make visitors look where you want them to. Using different colors in your headline and sub-headline can either improve conversions by drawing the eye to the headline or hurt conversions if it takes away from your call to action.

One trick that I’ve seen work effectively is using the same color on your headline and call to action, the colors matching up tell the visitor what the next most important element is they should pay attention to. However, this can hurt your conversions so that’s why testing different headline colors is critical to finding what really works on your page.

Try testing lots of different colors and variations like:

[bullet_list icon=”check” indent=”10px” style=””]

  • Blending colors
  • High contrast colors
  • Highlighted
  • Headlines with gradients/shadows/borders/etc.


These 5 simple elements can help make huge strides in your conversion optimization efforts if tested properly and thoroughly. What are your favorite (simple) testing elements that I missed? What kind of lifts have you seen from these small tweaks on your landing pages or website? Let me know in the comments below!


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