Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is one of the most common and visible forms of online marketing. Most people know these as “Google Text Ads” since the search giant is by far the biggest player with in that arena. The vast majority of their billions in revenue comes from those text ads, which is a great indication of how easily their seemingly low cost can spiral out of control. It’s easy to get carried away when a click costs only a few dollars but without proper targeting, management and analysis your PPC campaign may well cost more money than it brings in. There are many critical points to consider before jumping in and entering your credit card number.
Are prospective clients online?
The first, and arguably most important, question seems ridiculous – are the people willing to buy your product or service actually online and using search engines? If your business serves a demographic that isn’t online very often and doesn’t know what a Google is, your money may be better-spent elsewhere. As the population in general becomes more tech-savvy this will be less of an issue, but for now it’s still an important consideration.
What are they searching for?
Once you’ve determined that there are customers to be found online, you have to figure out how to reach them. Since text ads are contextual, i.e. show ads that are relevant to the user’s search, you have to determine what your customers-to-be are searching for to give your ads the best chance of showing up. There are a number of tools you can use, most notably Google’s Trends and the Keyword Tool built into AdWords (Google’s text ad service).
It’s easy to get lured into vague, untargeted keywords but that will usually prove to be a money pit. Target specific queries and design multiple ad variants rather than a generic one – it’s more work upfront but it will save you (and make you) money in the long run because you’re going after people who are searching for very closely related terms rather than overly broad ones that won’t convert.
Far too many PPC ads suffer from the elementary mistake of pointing the visitor to the target site’s homepage. While that may seem like a good idea at first glance you’re wasting money by not using a targeted landing page.
Let’s suppose you sell plumbing supplies online and you nave PPC ads for “buy copper pipe”. A user has clicked your ad and made it to your site – great! Now he has landed on your homepage where he must get his bearings and find his way to the copper pipe section. Will he bother? Maybe not.
The better approach would be to build a page for each PPC ad group – copper pipes in this case – and point the ads to that page. At the very least, point the ads to the “copper pipe” section of your site. That’s far more relevant to the user’s search and he’s much more likely to find what he’s looking for.
Optimize the website and landing page
If you’re paying Google to get people to visit your site, don’t burn that money with a website that’s confusing and hard to navigate. Make sure your website – and the landing page in particular – have good content, a nice design, and most importantly a clear call to action. Once the visitor is on the page, don’t leave them wondering what you want them to do. That’s essential in web design in general, but it’s doubly important when building a successful PPC campaign.