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Getting More from Your Pay-per-Click Marketing
By Kevin Gold, Managing Partner, Enhanced Concepts, Inc.

Because of increasing competition that has led to higher advertising costs with pay-per-click marketing, many businesses have not realized their desired objectives.

Because of increasing competition that has led to higher advertising costs with pay-per-click marketing, many battle-scarred - "do-it-yourself" - businesses have not realized their desired objectives.

Although publicized as a straightforward, self-service marketing tool, pay-per-click marketing involves far more knowledge than most businesses are able to invest themselves "in-house." Faced with a moderately or poorly performing pay-per-click marketing program and the pressure to allocate resources elsewhere, many businesses choose to drop their pay-per-click marketing entirely - leaving a vast potential of sales for their competitors to harvest.

If you face pay-per-click marketing challenges, before you decide to drop the program, try these proven strategies to turn it around and get it producing.

A. Keyword-Level Tracking

Track your pay-per-click marketing at the keyword-level - referred to as the "root". For pay-per-click marketing, it is essential that you know your "per-click" results from the money you spend.

For example, if you have 1,000 keywords active in your pay-per-click marketing program and you spend a total of $3,000 a month - do you know which of the 1,000 keywords produce the best results?

What if 80% of your sales stem from 20% of your keywords? Moreover, what if this 20% accounted for just a small percentage of your $3,000 monthly cost? If you do not have keyword-level tracking you will not be able to make these financially beneficial assessments. Time-tested experience shows that the 80/20 rule applies to pay-per-click marketing.

Does the 80/20 rule apply to your pay-per-click marketing? Get keyword-level tracking.

But Beware of Matching Options!

Although matching options (i.e. broad, advanced, exact, phrase and so on) offered by Google Adwords, Yahoo Search and other pay-per-click search engines provide "convenience" they unfortunately skew your keyword performance results.

If you setup a "broad-match" for the keyword "real estate", you will attract visitors who have entered any possible variation of the term "real estate" including geographically specific "real estate" keywords that may have absolutely no relevance to your product or service.

Here is a scenario where matching options skew your results...

You generate $1,000 in revenue from the broad-match keyword, "real estate" yet the total click cost for it exceeds revenue and because of the keyword's negative return, you label it as a poor performing keyword.

What if the majority of the click cost originated from irrelevant, broad-match keyword variations like "Louisiana real estate" - while one variation, "real estate strategy" generated all of the revenue? By identifying this keyword (hard to do in a broad-match environment so rely on your web stats program), taking this one keyword and isolating it as an exact term you will reduce your total click cost while continuing to generate the same revenues.

How are your broad-match keywords performing? Isolate keywords to save click costs and to regulate individual keyword performance.

B. Landing Page Development

Pay-per-click marketing is unique compared to other mainstream forms of online marketing. In part because marketers have the opportunity to select specific keywords, write specific ads and direct the click-through to a specific web page.

This "connect-the-dots" structure creates the need to develop consistency among the visitor's expectation from the keyword they enter to the ad that draws their attention and down to the web page they "land-on." Relevancy and consistency are essential for an effective pay-per-click marketing program.

One of the reportedly major reasons why pay-per-click marketing programs fall short of its intended purpose is because businesses direct all of their click-throughs to their home page. Since most businesses' home pages are designed to serve mutliple audiences (i.e. media relations, investors, current clients, potential prospects, customer services, etc.) they do not provide the level of relevancy and consistency expected from the visitor to get them to act confidently.

Even directing pay-per-click to specific product pages does not always provide the solution. Pay-per-click visitors possess different search behaviors and intent than users clicking through from a natural search link. An effective landing page caters to these differences and helps generate higher outcomes.

What are Landing Pages?

Landing pages are web pages designed specifically for a keyword or related group of keywords. They are highly relevant to the keyword search and consistent with the ad's claim. They immediately focus a visitor's attention to a primary call-to-action (most wanted response). In essence - landing pages ask your visitors to take an action and do not distract them with other offers, links or other "not-relevant-to-the-visitors-search" content.

If your pay-per-click marketing is not living up to your expectations, consider which web pages you are sending visitors to. Are they relevant and consistent with your pay-per-click ads and keywords? Do they offer too many calls-to-action? Do they "fit" the expectations of the visitor searching on the particular keyword?

For example, are you sending a visitor searching on the keyword "Sony LCD TV" to a web page with twenty varieties of electronic products? An effectively designed landing page would present the visitor a "Sony LCD TV" with customer benefit oriented copy, an immediate "buy now" call to action and all applicable guarantee, shipping, customer service and return policies.

How do you know exactly what is relevant to your visitors? The best way is to learn as much as you can about your customers then test, test and test various landing page variables like headlines, call-sot-action, images, copy and call-to-action images until you hit your expectations.

C. Keyword Selection

Keyword selection is essential. The keywords you select provide access to "pools" of visitors at different stages in their buying process. By selecting the right keywords for your products or services, you can open an opportunity to attract and sell to ready-to-buy visitors.

Make sure that you thoroughly canvass your marketplace using strategies such as:
  •  Your competitors' websites
  • Blogs, forums, and other Web 2.0 vehicles.
  • Your website's copy
  • Third-party tools - Yahoo's Suggestion Tool, WordTracker, and others
  • Your website analytics (look for "natural search engine" keyword phrases)
  • Search engines like Ask Jeeves or Alta Vista (who suggest keyword variations)
Most importantly, "THINK" about your potential customers and what direct or indirect keywords they may use to find your products or services. Never give up searching for new keywords to setup and test. Continually analyze seasonal and trend-influenced keyword performance fluctuations and study potential associations people make to find your products and services.

What about you - have you selected the right keywords?

D.  Bidding Strategies

All pay-per-click search engines possess unique bidding nuances. Do not get fixated on always attaining the top bid position. Test how each keyword performs against your website's sales or lead conversion metrics up to the seventh bid position. Although the top positions typically generate the most click-throughs, your business does not achieve success from more visitors but from more sales or lead conversions. If the fourth position generates less click-throughs but more sales (at a lower cost) than stay with it. You will not know without testing and measuring your results.

E. Writing Effective Ads

Finally, always test different ads by interchanging words in the title and description. For Google Adwords (add the new Yahoo release), try split-testing two different titles and descriptions and add a unique tracking code to each one so you can identify the one generating the leads or sales.

Notice that I did not state, "the generating the "highest click-through rate."  Why? Because "a lot of nothing" (i.e. a lot of traffic without sales or lead) is not a financially viable solution. Consider that even a single word change on your ad can create a significant jump to your sales or lead conversion rate.

Follow these strategies to boost your pay-per-click marketing results. Spend the time to gain the leads and sales.

Kevin Gold is Managing Partner of Enhanced Concepts helping businesses increase their online leads and sales through improving conversions and gaining greater visibility. Download "20 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Website

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