Many small businesses do not use pay-per-click advertising because they are afraid of losing money. Here’s how to make sure you don’t.
Last week I talked to a business owner who approached me for organic search-engine-optimization work because he was losing money with his Google Adwords campaign. His intention was to replace his paid Google ads with “free” organic search listings. I was quite blunt with my response: “What makes you think your SEO campaign will be successful if you’re losing money with your pay-per-clicks?”
Unlike print media, which have fixed pricing, most online advertising systems such as Google Adwords are auction-based. Advertisers compete against other advertisers in a private auction hosted by the advertising network. The bids generally reflect the market demand for a particular keyword. Therefore, if you are not making money with a particular keyword, either your competitors must be losing money as well (unlikely) or you simply don’t have an offer that is as compelling or targeted as theirs.
This is why pay-per-click is the ultimate acid test: you see in real time if your offer is working or not. If it’s working, then you should increase your budget and capture a bigger market. If it’s not working, then you should go back and tweak it. Never waste your time with organic SEO until you have proven the effectiveness of a keyword or offering with a pay-per-click campaign.
Here’s a list of what you should tweak to improve your online advertising results:
1. Have a good landing page.
Tell people what you want them to do on your landing page, be it buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. Don’t assume visitors will know what to do automatically.
2. Have a compelling offer.
Visitors will be more likely to take action if there is a compelling offer on the page. Give them a bonus or free trial if they sign up for a newsletter. Offer a time-sensitive discount.
3. Focus on benefits, not features.
Follow the age-old marketing rule. Focus on benefits, not features. People don’t buy the drill; they buy the hole!
4. Target a specific geographic area.
If you only serve a specific geographic area, then you should limit your ads to only show in the cities or municipalities you serve. There’s no point in paying for clicks from Coquitlam if your market is West Van.
5. Target specific demographics.
Want to only show your ad to single females who make more than $100K a year? No problem! On many advertising platforms such as Microsoft AdCenter and PlentyofFish.com, you can use demographic targeting to refine your audience. This way you can prequalify your visitors and make sure they have both the interest and the wallet to pay for your products.
6. Have back-end products.
If you increase the lifetime value of your customer, you will be able to bid a lot higher than your competitors and still make a profit in the long run. Smart companies frequently use this strategy to create competitive barriers around their ads in the online marketplace.
7. Use lots of “exclude” keywords.
Negative, or “exclude,” keywords are words that you can use to filter unqualified traffic. For example, if you include “cheap” and “price” as negative keywords, your ad will not shown to searches that are just shopping around for the best deal online.
8. Test, test, and test some more.
Always test different variations of your ads and landing pages. Try different headlines, call-to-action phrases and offers.
9. Do a full competitive research.
Take screenshots of your top five to 10 keywords every week and see how your competitors change over time. Visit their sites and see what they are up to. Make sure your offer remains the most compelling one.
10. Integrate with analytics software.
Track absolutely everything through Google Analytics, including sales and goal conversions. Cut out any poorly performing keywords that you can’t fix.
Martin Wong is a partner and chief marketing officer at SmarttNet. Martin is responsible for the online development and the overall marketing vision of SmarttNet while simultaneously overseeing the creation of a new Internet marketing department. With over 10 years’ experience in online marketing, Martin combines his extensive abilities and Google certifications to provide informed and testable business solutions. Martin holds a double Bachelor’s degree from UBC. Reach him at 604-473-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.