Working The Web - Is Pay Per Click Eating Your Lunch? — Here's How to Make It Pay Off BIG!

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By Hector Cisneros

You’re an internet entrepreneur, all excited with your new business, idea or product and you're told by many that you can get on page one of Google using AdWords (Google PPC platform is also known as pay per click). You are certain that the key to your success is being found on Google, so you sign up for AdWords or AdWords Express, give them your credit card info and fill out the AdWords Wizard. A week goes by, then two, then four and you soon realize a lot of money is going out, but little is coming in from your advertising. We have seen this same scenario play out so many times, on Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms, so much so, that it’s almost a cliché. Sometimes a business starts out with some success, but before you know it, the only company making money from your pay per click advertising is the pay per click platform itself. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explain the right way to go about setting up and using any pay per click platform because PPC advertising, shouldn’t be eating your lunch, it should be making you money. So, put away your credit card and take out your notepad, as we show you how to turn your pay per click advertising, into clicks that produce cash.

Change is Constant - Understanding the working of a pay per click platform is a continuous an ongoing process. None of the PPC platforms can leave well enough alone for long. Google, Bing, Facebook and the rest of them are constantly adding or rearranging features all the time. It’s almost as if they are trying to purposely frustrate their users. Having said that, there are marketing principles that don’t change. For example, engaging in pre-planning, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, doing market research, set a budget, selecting a specific target market matched to an appropriate product or service, deciding what benefits will be focused on, coming up with a compelling offer etc. It's extremely important that you do your due diligence by being prepared, having a USP (unique selling proposition), understanding your Ideal customer profile, the demographics and psychographic profile of the target market, your territory, know and understand your competition and finally what the important key phrases are. We have written about the subject extensively in the past. If you type in “Pay per click” in the search box at the top of our blog, it will list about two dozen article that discusses pay per click and other issues. Articles I highly recommend reading are;

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SEO Vs PPC - Any discussion about pay per click should contrast it to other types of Search Engine advertising. The two main types are Pay Per Click (which usually encompasses pay per view and banner network plus retargeting as well) and organic search listing marketing. Pay per click advertising is usually auction based. This means the winner of the auctions is willing to pay the highest amount for a specific key phrase. In turn, they will receive the highest position for that given search page. As a rule, you do not know exactly what other advertisers are bidding. You can get a general idea, but the numbers are always changing.

Highly competitive keywords can cost between 10 and $40 per click, depending on the industry, the competitiveness of the current market and whether there is a bidding war going on. Needless to say, you can run through a lot of money quickly. And since a click is not a sale, you could lose your lunch money way before the lunch bell rings!

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Google is King - Organic listings are based on a secret set of criteria that tell Artificial Intelligence algorithms how to rank website pages for a specific key phrase. These are “earned positions”! Google states that there are over 400 ranking criteria, (no one knows for sure). These include on-page meta information, content, authority, relevance, quality, usefulness, timeliness, popularity, ratings, location, backlinks, and the lists go on and on. Getting on page one organically today is no easy feat. Google is the number one search engine used today, garnering anywhere from 60 to 85% of all searches (depending on whose numbers you believe). If you realize there are only 10 to 14 listings on a Google search page, and there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors in any category, for any locality, your chances of getting on page one without a concerted effort are slim to none.  Bing and other search platforms like Yahoo have more listings, but you can quickly begin to see how hard earning an organic page one position can be. Comparatively, getting on page one with Pay Per Click is just a matter of paying for it.

There are also differences in how likely a person is to click on your listing between PPC and organic listings. Many studies have shown that only 21 to 35% of people will click on a paid ad, whereas 60 to 70% will only click on organic listings. We have also found if you are ranking high on page one (one of the top five organic positions) and are also showing up in a paid ad at the top of page one, your likelihood of being clicked on is upwards of 95%. Few people actually search below the fold of page one, much less search past page one today (less than 10%). So, to be successful in search marketing you either have to buy your position with Pay Per Click advertising, earn a page one organic listing, or work niche markets with retargeting with the use of banner networks.

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Mistakes Are Common - A common mistake people make when setting up a Pay Per Click campaign is sending people who click on their ad to the main website. There are many differences between a Nexus website and a Landing page. A Nexus website (your main multipage informational website) primary purpose is to give access to lots of information. It should be designed to inform, build trust and make communications easier for the visitor. If its and eCommerce site it is also designed to sell as well, but often this function is a separate site altogether. There are other types of web pages often used by mistake as well (i.e. social pages, blogs, video pages etc.). In contrast, a landing page is designed to have a focused message and its purpose is to move the visitor towards a conversion or sale. In other words, its purpose is to lead the visitor to take an actionable step like; fill out a form, make a phone call, play a video or click on the “buy now” button. This works because a landing page has a higher relevance to the search term (because it is highly focused on that subject matter) and because it has fewer distractions (other items not related to the search term) to make the visitor click on something other than an actionable step.

These Three Milestones Must be Reached - Your goal should be to reach three milestones in the sales process. #1 Getting exposure, #2 creating enough trust to move forward, and #3 compelling people to take action (click, view, fill out a form, make the call). Any Pay Per Click campaign (using a landing page or a website for that matter) needs to accomplish these three things. First, it must be found! Pay Per Click is a great tool for achieving this goal. Your ad needs to compel your seeker to click on the ad which then takes them to a landing page. However, getting your prospect to click on your ad does not constitute a conversion. Your landing page must do that. An exception to this is if your ad allows a phone number listing so a prospect can click on it to make a connection.  Now that the prospect has reached the landing page, you’re at step two, creating trust and moving the prospect to take action! Here your landing page needs to be focused, provide trust elements like testimonials, have a compelling offer and make it easy for the prospect to communicate with you. Your landing page needs to take the risk out of the equation. Failing to provide these elements' means almost certain failure. If these elements are well-designed and in place, your prospect will take action if they have a pressing need or your offer has compelled them to move forward.

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There are many Pay Per Click platforms out there. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and AOL are the most commonly used. There are, however literally hundreds of search directories out there. Many of these “third-tier” search directories can be accessed via Google's, Bings, Yahoo or AOL’s banner network platforms, using banner ads and retargeting. These banner networks can cost less per click, but they can also be less effective as well. On the social side, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Blogger and others offer various pay per click, pay per view and banner network advertising options as well.

Differences Abound - It is important to understand that there are many differences between search directory listings and social network listings. Not only in the mechanics of how they are used, but also on the algorithm criteria they use for ranking and or listing pages. For example, Google has its 400+ ranking criteria which I mentioned earlier, but the search is still based on what the user types in as their key phrase in their search. In the social arena, the primary criteria is based mostly on targeting a subscriber’s profile information. Yes, key phrase information is used as well, but it’s the key phrases in the profile that are used to target the most subscribers, not just what they are typing.

To make things even more confusing for the average business owner, marketing companies throw around phrases like; “Building your Brand”, “Maximizing Exposure” and “Lead Generating” when they should be talking about “Actionable Click Through Rates” and “Conversions”.
Every business wants to have a recognized positive brand, but the reality is most businesses are not branded (i.e. they are not widely recognized). A branding campaign should only be used when you have sufficient funds to fail when you run a branding campaign. This media buy should not make you go under. Businesses engaging in pay per click should concentrate on producing actionable clicks (clicks that produce steps to conversion) or conversion to a sale itself.

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Make Sure You do These - At the beginning of this article, when I discussed reading our previous blog post, I stated it was important that “you begin with the end in mind“, as Steven Covey would say. You must answer questions like; What is the purpose of this campaign? What are my S.M.A.R.T. goals for the campaign? Have I done my pre-campaign research? What are the results of our A/B test campaign (using multiple landing pages and messages)? Do we have full analytics in place? Launching haphazardly into a Pay Per Click campaign is tad amount to gambling at the roulette wheel in a casino. In fact, it can be worse. If you’re playing roulette, you have a one in 37 chance of winning (even though the house only pays 35 to 1). A Pay Per Click campaign has many more variables in play compared to a roulette wheel. You have numerous (if not countless) competitors, the auction bid process itself is ever-changing. It can include which timing elements are important, (hourly, daily, quarterly, and annual) or trending. There are variables that make up the design elements and marketing message of your ads. There are the positioning effects that artificial intelligent imposes on your ads exposure rate based on what it determines the relevance of your ad is. PPC platforms that are hard to understand and are changing on a regular basis also add to the confusion. Bots which don’t buy anything are clicking on your ads, (some studies say bots account for between 30 and 60% of all clicks).  You have an ever-evolving audience who is fickle and always looking for a better value. Plus, a click on your ad is not a buy! If, you are not well versed in the mechanics of using your PPC platform you could fail. Again, if you’re not well versed in the design of ad space and creating a compelling message, you could fail. You could also make a mistake in setting up a campaign and target the wrong audience or misinterpret the results of what the analytics are showing you.  Any management mistake you make could kill your campaign.  In fact, if you are uneducated in the ever-changing subtleties of a particular Pay Per Click platform usage, your chances of losing money with pay per click advertising is almost certain.

More Ways to Succeed - There are ways to increase your chances, (using a pro is one of them) but they require more work and expenditures on your part. To increase your chances of success, you can couple PPC advertising with other types of marketing to create synergy. Using Email, direct mail, social media post, blogging, word of mouth and any organic search marketing methods can all enhance pay per clicks results. The reverse is also true. Using Pay Per Click can also enhance organic search marketing as well.

If you begin your Pay Per Click quest by engaging in the preparation work needed to understand the big picture, your chances of success go way up. Even if you do everything right, you could still fail. There are many reasons for failing even though you did your due diligence, for example; the economy takes a downturn, timing is off, your product or service proves to be weak, you’re pricing is not competitive, you have a weak offer etc.

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The analytics you have in place will help you to determine, if and when it's time to pull the plug on your campaign. They will also tell you if you have a winner and whether it’s time to ramp things up and put more money into the campaign. It’s important that you realize that success depends on doing all the upfront research and due diligence otherwise you’re just relying on chance (and a slim one at that). In the early 1990s, Pay Per Click was simpler and it was easier to have success. Today Pay Per Click requires lots of upfront work, a strong understanding of the platform mechanics, the current marketplace, the bid process, ad design, conversion tools and the customer profiles and buying habits. This puts success for Pay Per Click in the hands of the well-informed and Pros. Because of its complexity, it is my belief that Pay Per Click should mainly be outsourced to the Pros. Having said that, you also need to hold any outsourced Pros feet to the fire. The need to be honest and upfront about expectations, goals and your return on investment is of utmost importance. If they are not meeting your goals, pull the plug and look for an honest company that can.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
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This article provides details needed to successfully engage in Pay Per Click advertising. The article also provides many of the best practices needed to achieve success and discussed the importance of several steps that led to Pay Per Click advertising success. It also lists other detailed methods and provides many links to resources for the reader to utilize and benefit from.

If you feel your business could use some help with its Pay Per Click or other marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We are very good at creating websites that are not only compliant but also productive and profitable. You can also fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog where we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. We claimed to fame is that we are one of a few companies who actually provide real guarantees.

If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. I recommend checking out the links on the blog, along with checking out other related articles on our Show Notes Page.  Also, don’t forget to listen to the BlogTalkRadio show on this subject. If you have a related useful comment or opinion about this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+ and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 

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