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Does PPC Spell Pay Per Click to Your Business?

By Carl Weiss

When you think about it, it’s amazing that the bulk of Google’s revenue is derived from Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.I say that because many small business owners whom I speak to, who have used PPC ads, are dissatisfied with their results.  It’s not that they aren’t appreciative of the fact that PPC can generate a Page One position for their business.  It’s more that using PPC does just that and little else.  Generating a click doesn’t mean generating a lead or a sale.  It simply means generating a click, every one of which erodes your ad budget.  While some clicks are spurious at best, before you decide to declare your PPC ads DOA, there are a few things you should consider.

#1: Have You Fine Tuned Your Ad?

One of the things that many neophyte PPC advertisers don’t realize is there are a number of ways to fine tune their campaign.  Adwords, along with most every other PPC engine will leave the pipe wide open unless you specify otherwise.  This means is that you need to determine when, where, and how often your ads are displayed.  If you aren’t the kind of business that offers 24-hour service, why run your ads all night along?  Simply by specifying you only want your ads to be displayed form 9 5 p.m. will literally cut the burn in half.  If you don’t sell your products or services worldwide (or in every state in the Union for that matter), you need to tune your campaign to specify its geographic scope.  Keyword selection is also key.  Not only is it important to choose the keywords and phrases that best describes your business’ products and services, you also need to add negative keywords to exclude your ad being displayed for similar keywords that will generate browsers as opposed to buyers.

#2: Why Being Number One Isn’t the Best Bet

Other than failing to test and measure your keywords effectiveness, the second biggest blunder that any PPC advertiser can make is to insist on being the number one result.  In the first place, since all PPC advertising is based on an auction, jumping right to the head of the line only assures you that you are going to pay top dollar for every click you receive.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to generate the most results.  Far from it, since you will burn up your ad budget the fastest this way.  All that shooting for the top slot means is that you run the risk of creating a bidding war that you can’t win.  

What we aim for is position number three for our clients that use PPC.  The third from the top means that your ad will display at the top of Google.  It also means that your limited advertising budget will go further before your ad reaches your daily limit and goes dark.  

#3: How Strong is Your Offer?

If you really want to get the biggest bang for the buck, you need to spend more time working on your message and offer, and less time worrying about being atop the pile.  In fact, a world-class, text-based ad can help you generate more clicks in the number three spot than a weaker ad can at the top of the page.  Since PPC ads are the only thing online that requires you to be more succinct that when you use Twitter, less is definitely more.

The key to maximizing results is to thoroughly understand the demographic and psychographic profile of your ideal customer.  What age brackets do you wish to target?  Which income brackets are representative of your ideal prospects?  Where do your ideal prospects shop?  Knowing these factors will not only help you hone your ad to a fine edge, but it will also aid you in selecting the best keywords and phrases from which to campaign. 

Once you have a complete profile of your ideal prospects then it’s time to create the ads that are designed to appeal to this group.  That’s right, I said ads.  The beauty of working online is that every click can be tracked.  In order to maximize your results in any PPC environment you want to design and test a number of different ads.  What sounds good on paper may quickly prove to be next to useless in the fast-paced world of the Internet.  Unlike print ads that are fixed in stone for a set amount of time, online ads are imminently adjustable.  Within a few days of launching any PPC campaign, you should be able to determine which ads are pulling their weight and what ads need to be either tweaked or pulled out of rotation altogether.  You should also do the same for your keywords, as well as the networks upon which your ads are displayed.

Unless you intend to shred a mountain of money in your initial attempts to locate and appeal to your ideal prospects, all of the steps above must be accomplished before your campaign is activated and the first click is produced.

#4: Looking for a Happy Landing?

Unlike in aviation, where it is said that any landing you can walk away from is a good one, if you want to have a high probability of converting clicks into cash you need to look at the place you intend prospects to land.  The single biggest mistake advertisers make is to send the prospect to their homepage.  Your homepage is designed to showcase your business, not to create new customers.  As a general rule, it’s too busy.  It offers too many choices to prospects. It wasn’t designed with the express purpose of dangling the bait and reeling in the fish.  In short, if you send a prospect to your homepage you have just reduced your ROI by as much as 90%.

Just like your ad, your landing page needs to be customized to funnel the prospect through the buying process with the least amount of speed bumps to accepting your offer.  It needs to contain a short series of selling lures that will make your landing page stickier.  In short order, you need to answer the following questions:

    1.      What need or desire are you trying to fulfill?
    2.      How does your offer remedy a problem or ease a pain?
    3.      How does your offer stack up to the competition’s offer?
    4.      What counteroffer are you promoting in case the fish doesn’t take the bait?

The best way to crystalize the process is to take a look at your existing landing page.  From a visual standpoint, what catches the eye?  Are you wasting valuable real estate above the fold with nebulous graphics or fancy Flash cells that do little to entice the prospect into taking action?  What type of funnel have you created to limit the prospects’ choices and lead him or her inexorably to agreeing with your marketing message and taking the bait?  How much sales resistance is your offer likely to cause and how does your copy address it? 

#5: Don’t Drop the Ball at the One-Yard Line

U.S. Air Force Academy senior linebacker Aaron...
U.S. Air Force Academy senior linebacker Aaron Shanor recovers a fumble by California Golden Bears tailback Justin Forsett during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. ID: 071231-F-0558K-010 (Photo credit:Wikipedia)
So you have made a successful pitch and have generated a lead.  Bravo! Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet.  The secret to turning leads into sales without running yourself to ground is via a drip marketing program.  While most business owners feel that they can kick up their feet and relax once the lead or initial sale is in the bag, I disagree.  All you have done is taken back a tiny amount of ground for a battle that was hard-fought.  If you really want to maximize the ROI of any online marketing campaign, what you need to do next is craft a multi-touch drip marketing plan that reaches out and touches a prospect no fewer than ten times.

If you want to enhance your return, I suggest sending buyers a monthly online newsletter that keeps them appraised of your growing business.  Feel free to include an offer at the bottom of each newsletter.  This tactic not only is a cagey way to dangle an offer in front of a prospect, it is also a way to keep your business top of mind.  If you really want to generate maximum return on every dollar invested, this technique is truly gold-plated.

While many business people lament the sometimes uneven results that they achieve when they employ PPC ads, the best way to turn clicks into cash is to up the ante and make sure that you aren’t robbing yourself blind by failing to fine tune your campaigns.

Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on

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