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Making Pay Per Click Pay Big Dividends

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By Hector E. Cisneros

There's no question pay per click Internet advertising is an effective means of garnering leads and finding prospects for many companies. However, large numbers of small businesses have found they've yet to crack the code needed to make pay per click profitable. Pay per click has many elements and it has often been compared to art rather than science.  In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of pay per click and teach you how to hedge your bets so that pay per click pays big dividends for your business.

It All Starts With Research

If you're planning to engage in pay per click advertising, you need to start with a plan. You'll need to research and understand your unique selling proposition, your ideal customer profile/s and you'll need to know what hot button keywords people are keying in when they search for your products.

Your ideal customer profile and your selling proposition need to come from your internal research, where you've taken the time to analyze your customer base in order to determine why customers are buying from you. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask your existing customers via a survey what they're keying in when they search for your products. Once you have an idea of what they're typing in a search, you need to go to Google’s keywords you're interested in. This keyword tool will also show you other possible phrases you may want to consider.

Key Words/Phrases are Important

Keyword not provided
Keyword not provided (Photo credit: bloeise)
My partner, Carl Weiss, always says a Google search is like a question and your Landing Page needs to be the perfect answer. So in pay per click, the keyword that people type in is the question they're asking and your pay per click keyword purchase ad needs to be the answer. What I'm saying  is not only do you have to bid on the right keywords in your pay per click auction; your ad also has to have the right keywords in it as well! If a person types in "oranges from Florida" and your ad says "navel oranges from California," they may just skip over your ad and click on another one that has the word "Florida"in it. 

Negative Keywords are Important, Too

Negative keywords also matter in that these phrases will improve your click-through and purchase rates. They can also lower your cost and increase your ROI. A negative keyword is a word or phrase you don’t want people keying in to find your product or service. If we continue to follow our preview example, a negative keyword phrase could be “the history of orange growing in Florida.”

Your Ad Copy Can Make or Break the Deal

Ad copy is always extremely important. If your ad copy doesn't motivate a person to click on it, winning a bid position means nothing. Your ad copy needs to include the keywords along with a clear and enticing offer. It also needs to be competitive in terms of price versus your competitions'. (Having a great ad and a lousy price will not make your cash register jingle.) If there are any inconsistencies in the ad it will fail. Also, if the ad is different than the content listed on the Landing Page it will fail.

What Does the Competitions' Ad Copy Look Like?

Your competition also matters. If they're advertising a very similar product at a lower price, they'll get most of the conversions.  If their position on the page is better than yours, they'll usually win. If  they're on Page One with a higher price and you're at the bottom of Page One with a lower price they'll still probably win.

Paid Position is Important

Your physical position on the page of Google search is very important. You want to shoot for position three, four or five, if possible. If your budget doesn't allows for buying these positions, then go for position four, five and six. If your budget doesn't afford you  showing up "above the fold" on page one of Google search, then realize you'll get fewer clicks and often lower quality clicks than those who can afford to pay for position three, four or five.

A/B Testing is Extremely Important

One of the most common mistakes business owners make is not testing their ads to see how well they work. Oftentimes, they'll come up with a concept, plug it into AdWords and assume  this is the best that they can do. The reality is the exact opposite. I can’t tell you how many times I've created several ads, had a winner in mind only to find out  my test proved that a different ad was the better performer. Sure, after you've created and running these kinds of ads for a few years you get good at it, but the only real way to see which ad produces the best return on investment is to AB test the ads.

I suggest you always create at least four ads for any campaign and then launch your test and run it for at least 15 days. If you have the budget, run it for 30 days. This shouldn't be a losing proposition if the ads don’t perform well. (Remember: it's pay per click so if they're not clicking you're not paying). A bigger problem is you get lots of clicks but very little conversion. We'll address conversion later in this article.

Different Platforms May Require Different Messages 

So far we've been mainly talking about Google search. However, there are many other pay per click venues out there for you to choose from. There’s Yahoo and Bing search, there are mobile versions of all the major search engines, and there are social networks where you can run pay per click as well. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter also have pay per click models.  Each venue has different rules and audiences. So, if you create an ad that works well in one venue that doesn’t guarantee it will work well with others. Again the only way to tell is to do your AB testing in each advertising platform. Ideally, if you have the right budget, you would test all venues simultaneously to not only see which ads work best, but also find out which platforms perform best and which provide the best return on investment.

Always Set "S.M.A.R.T." Goals-Based on Your Real Budget

S.M.A.R.T. Goals allow you to be objective in your search for effective pay per click ads and platforms. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based. Creating any other kind of goal will be less meaningful and will cost you more than you should be spending.

A realistic budget is based on two factors. First, what can you afford, and secondly, what does it take to be found and clicked on. If you’re in a very competitive and mature market, you may have a tough row to hoe. It's always tougher and costs more to compete in these types of arenas. It’s quite possible to have a budget that you can afford, but it won't get the job done. It’s also possible that the same money spent on a different platform can make that same budget work for you.

Set a Realistic Goal Based on Your Budget

Once you have a realistic budget, you need to set realistic goals. Your ultimate outcome also has to be a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. Your goal needs to include the number of leads you need to generate, phone calls received, and/or sales created. These goals need to have time limits tied to them, such as garnering five leads a week or closing 12 sales a month, etc. Also, you have to be prepared to do the testing up front in order for your goals to be realistic. Otherwise, you could spend a year or more and still not understand your market. By then, you would have either wasted a substantial amount of money, or if you did the testing, would have discovered how and where to land your next prospect.

Set a Realistic Time Frame for Your Test

Your time frame for your ROI should be tied to your business plan. That means it should be tied to your sales forecasts along with your annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly sales goals. If you've been in business for a while, you should have a handle on what are realistic weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual sales projections. If not, you'll  have to make your best guess and then measure against it. Either way, you'll be measuring against the time frame in your projections. If the difference is drastic, then you need to either adjust to reality or figure out what you're doing wrong. AB testing is a great way to understand what is realistic and what is just a W.A.G., (a wild guess).

Conversion is the Next Step

Now that we've discussed the importance of AB testing, we need to discuss what you're testing for. In other words, what are clients looking for when they visit your Landing Page? In this part of our testing, we're looking to improve the conversion rate. Any Landing Page worth its salt has to have five elements that people are looking for. These elements add to your company's credibility and also help keep the visitor's mind focused on what their original search was for in the first place. The more information and or subjects listed on a Landing Page, the greater the chance the visitor will be distracted, feel like this isn't what they were looking for, or get frustrated by not easily finding what they were looking for.

If a person is searching for "Florida oranges" and your Landing Page lists "apple, bananas and oranges," they now have to make additional decisions instead of knowing that their search is over. Every primary product(s) (your "cash cows," so to speak) each need their own focused Landing Page. Likewise, each main product or service you sell needs its own focused marketing messages on its own focused Landing Page. If you want the page to be effective with a higher conversion rate (i.e., turning clicks into leads, phone calls or cash), then this is the only way to go. Even e-commerce pages should be focused. Yes, they can show add-ons and up sales, but the pages themselves need to be primarily about one product or service.

Five elements every Landing Page needs to build credibility:
  • Bold Headings based on keywords - above the fold
  • Focused message based on keywords - key bullet points above the fold
  • Easy to understand and competitive offer - above the fold
  • Testimonials – video or hand-written – above the fold
  • Easy-to-find contact information, including address and map - above the fold

Organic Position Also Matters

The main reason having organic position matters is because if your business is showing up in both pay per click and organic listings, your chances of being clicked on goes up increases as much as 98%. All things being equal, most prospects will select an organic listing over a paid advertisement, seven out of ten times. If you're showing up in the organic listing above the fold, most people will select you as one of their primary choices.

In this article, I've provided an in-depth explanation of what pay per click advertising is and how it can help you make money. I've provided the key factors needed for your success. I covered the importance of paid listing position, budgetary considerations, AB testing, differences between pay per click platforms, and much more.

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you feel you have something to add or just want to leave a comment, do so below. It's been my pleasure sharing with you our view of the current state of search engine marketing. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks again for reading and sharing. 

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “pay per click” or "advertising" in the search box at the top left of this blog.
That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
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If you'd like a FREE Copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form in the upper right-hand sidebar, where you will receive instant access to our eBook. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director for, based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make Working the Web to Win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active blogger (including ghostwriting). He's a published author of two books, "60 Seconds to Success"(on sale at Amazon and B&N) and "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century."

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