As Paid Search Marketing, otherwise known as Pay Per Click, grows it is inevitable that the medium will become more complex. In an effort to remain competitive and attract more advertisers, the search engines continually upgrade their service to stay on top by providing advertisers with more effective options to help them refine their advertising programs.
The launch of Yahoo! Bing Ad Network and the re-launch of the Facebook Ads Platform add more advanced players into the mix attempting to attract your advertising dollars (and of course pull some ad spend away from Google). Confused? Wondering why you’re not getting the ROI that you’re constantly reading about? PPC requires more than just selecting and bidding for keywords.
We’ve compiled five easy steps (or fixes) to help you manage your Pay Per Click campaigns.
1. Identify your Goals
You’d be surprised how many advertisers don’t know exactly what they want from their campaigns. Prior to launching (or re-launching) a Pay Per Click campaign, you need to identify your objectives and the Key Performance Indicators you’ll use to define success. Is the program aimed to drive traffic to the Website, build brand or product awareness, or sell a particular product or category of products? All are viable and have a place among paid search.
2. Target your Audience
Many businesses that launch a Pay Per Click program aren’t aware of many of the capabilities offered through the search engines, opting instead for the ‘quick and easy’ setup of the program. They often skip the various targeting options available to help ensure that ads are seen by their target audience. Google AdWords offers geotargeting, where advertisers can target their ads by location (country, state, city or even a radius from your office, such as 50 miles from your office door) and by day of the week and hour of the day. For the Content Network, advertisers can target specific Websites and Website content. Not to mention, convention PPC Campaigns can go a step further by allowing advertisers to also target by gender and age (additional fees apply).
3. Test, Test, and Then Test Some More
Testing is one of the keys to successful paid search programs. Too often paid search campaigns are launched with a list of keywords and a single ad driving traffic to a single landing page (commonly the home page). Using this provides little room for success. To launch an effective Pay Per Click program, you need to constantly test keywords, ad copy, and landing pages – even test different incentive offers. Google, Bing and Facebook (with the launch of their updated platform) allow for ad rotation to make this testing easy to implement and easy to track. So how will you know which combination of ad copy, landing page, keywords and incentive works best? Read on…
4. Make Sure you Have a Good Tracking Program in Place
Without a good analytics program in place, you won’t be able to measure which test variables are providing a better return, and in general whether the program is providing your business with a positive ROI. To most effectively track your Pay Per Click advertising efforts, you need to use a combination of the reporting provided by Google and the Yahoo! Bing Ad Network in addition to your in-house analytics program such as HitBox, WebTrends or ClickTracks. Of course, once you have your tracking program in place, you need to make sure you know what you’re looking for…in other words, what metrics reflect your Key Performance Indicators for your campaigns.
5. Follow-up with Your Leads/Sales
Just like most advertising vehicles, the success of a program can be based on the lifetime value of the customer or the cost to acquire a new customer. Even though your Website can handle the entire sales process without human intervention, in order to make the most out of your advertising dollars, you need build a steady communication stream with your client or prospect. Once the lead is captured, you need to ensure the appropriate next steps are taken to convert this prospect to a sale. Sales give you an opportunity to up-sell or to segment and cross-sell your customers based on their actions and line of products purchased. Phone calls, Email Marketing and Direct Mail can all be effective means of following up with customers and prospects to maximize their lifetime value and to lower your customer acquisition costs.
If managed correctly, paid search can be a very profitable advertising vehicle for your business – locally, nationally and internationally. While it does take time to master the different consoles (Google’s AdWords, Yahoo! Bing Ad Network, etc.), once you’ve identified your goals, refined your targeting to focus solely on your audience, tested campaign variables, tracked your program, and of course created an ongoing communication stream with your clients and prospects, you’ll be on the right track to a successful and profitable program.