Friday, April 20, 2007

The pay-per-click pay-off

posted by Seun Olubodun
Humble apologies, IncPlace readers! Andy got caught up in MySpace, so I'm picking up where he left off yesterday. Hopefully we haven't disappointed you too much. Now onward with the pay-per-click show!

Like Andy stated in his other post, pay-per-click (PPC) is one of the most popular and efficient ways to advertise online. And we have a few words of wisdom to get you started on a successful PPC campaign:

Make sure you have a well thought-out budget. Figure out how much money one new customer is worth to you, and then bid accordingly. This also helps you determine your ROI.

Don’t get caught up in the auction hype. Many people lose sight of their budget, and bid ridiculous amounts because they want their ad listed in the No. 1 slot. If you figure out how much money a new customer is worth to you, then you should have no problem bidding accordingly. And you'll be able to keep your costs under control.

Consider the low-hanging fruit. Just like Andy's SEO advice, having the No. 1 keyword might not be the best route. Pick some second-tier keywords; they might be more useful, cheaper, and still generate an effective PPC campaign.

Experiment. If you're unsure of what keywords are first-tier, second-tier, and so one, or what's going to get you better traffic, run test ads. Create a few ads using different keywords, and limit the number of times people can click it.

This way, you won’t be out of pocket too much. Plus, if you see that the second-tier keywords generate more traffic, and your click allowance depleted faster, you know that keyword is a good one to go with.

Likewise, buy keywords on second-tier search engines or ad platforms. Yes, Google and Yahoo!'s traffic is amazing, but you're paying for it. If you take our first piece of advice, you should know your maximum price for customer acquisition. Second-tier engines might let you to get that price, and still bring sufficient traffic to your site.

Take that a step further and look at it from an SEO standpoint. Your site will gain more traffic and activity, effectively making it more desirable in the larger search engines rankings. So for pennies on the dollar, you get the traffic you want, and you get SEO’d at the same time -- a win for you, and your business.

Use multiple ad platforms to display ads. If you find second-tier ad platforms work, spread your ads among the different networks to gain the most exposure for your ad.

Make your ads diverse. All of the ads you create do the same thing: They take people to your Web site. So the more ads you have, the more opportunity you create for people to click your ad and be directed to your Web site.

If you sell several different products, create an ad for each product, and use lesser-known keywords. For example, if you have a hardware store, don’t advertise your hardware store. Make separate ads for “new hammers”, or “latest power tools to hit the market.” This way, you'll have an army of ads working for you cheaply.

Target your ads by region. If you're selling a local service, geo-target your ad using an advertising application. It will look at which city or geographic area people are searching from, and display your ad only when someone from that area searches for the type of service you offer.

This really helps ROI because you won't get someone in Australia clicking on your ad for plumbing services in New York.

Create well-designed landing pages. Make sure your landing page -- the Web page the ad directs people to -- clearly displays the information that will guarantee the close of a sale. This information includes call-to-action text and links to contact the company.

The last thing you want to do is direct a potential customer to the wrong page, and make them figure out where to go to buy the product or service. I can guarantee they will leave the site immediately, and you won't be able to get your money back from the wasted click.

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