Budgets are Tight? Use PPC Wisely

Pay Per Click advertising is of course one of the fastest ways to achieve quick results in the search engines.  Natually, we all want our sites to be number one in Google organic rankings for all our most popular search terms but that just isn’t realistic.  PPC campaigns are a great way to bridge that gap while waiting for more natural rankings (assuming your are properly optimizing your site with SEO) or to launch a specific online ad campaign centered around a specific product launch, event, etc.

Part of the job of a qualified Internet marketing company is to educate the client on how their PPC campaign should be run, what keywords will be most effective, and how to acheive the best ROI.  Yes, we all want the best ROI possible but there are many subtle variations in every campaign that can save (or waste) tons of money.  Here are a few tips on how to put together a reasonable campaign with a limited budget in a highly competitive industry.  Keep in mind, these days, the more competitive the industry is out in the “real” world, the more competitive it usually is in the “virtual” world.

Don’t Be Unrealistic: This is where the education piece comes into play.  The first part of putting together an effective PPC campaign within a given daily/monthly/weekly budget is to research and analyze the industry and keywords associated.  The keywords searched the most each month will usually have the highest cost per click.  If you are in fact in a very competitive industry with terms running at $3 per click and up, you may want to consider starting with broader “long tail” keywords that focus on a specific niche within your industry.  Long tail keywords are generally searched less but are more specific and can actually result in a better conversion.  The keywords searched the most may drive tons of traffic but you have to then have the ability to maintain visibility for your listings and convert what traffic you do get to decrease the overall cost per conversion.

For example, if you only set a budget of $20 per day for a popular key term your campaign might reach its limit by 10 am and then you are done for the day!  Another aspect to consider is that if you are a little fish in a big pond, and your product does not compare well with the giants in the industry you may want to take that into consideration.  I am not saying don’t go for it, because I am extremely competitive by nature.  However, research where your competition falls short (and you excell) and consider starting there first.

So the bottom line is to be realistic in your choices of keywords at first.  Go after ones you can afford and follow some of the additional steps in order to use those less expensive key words to generate conversions (sales) and use that revenue to go after some of the more expensive terms.

Create a Budget and Stay Committed to it: If you are not the one directly handling the campaign, you may have hired a PPC management company or Internet marketing firm to do the job.  But you should know the details so you can plan accordingly.  If you are in a competitive industry with expensive keywords you need to consider what budget you allocate to the PPC effort.  Sometimes people are just way too unrealistic and commit only a small amount of money.  This is important to note because you need to consider all the aspects of a good PPC camapign:  research, website preparation (landing pages), implementation, analysis, adjustments, and more analysis.

If you are bidding $3 per click but selling a $5 item, it may not be worth it.  Ongoing analysis of the bounce rates and conversion rates will help with this process.  Additionally, continually monitoring your titles and descriptions is important for seeing which keywords are giving you the best return.  Sticking to the budget can be difficult if you are not seeing the ROI you want immediately but it takes some time to analyze the results before you can make adjustments that will improve those results.

The Six P’s: I am prior military and this might not be a common saying among civilians, but I know some of you have heard it.  Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  It can never be more true than when spending money on PPC.  Let’s face it, organic SEO is much more of an “investment” as it takes time to see results.  PPC may take time to assess conversions and increased revenue but the visibiltiy in the SERPs happens at the flip of a swicth.

When I refer to planning I am really referring to the development of solid landing pages that will help convert that user who clicked on your PPC ad into a sale.  A landing page is basically a page on your site that is very specific to the ad and has very ovbious calls to action.  For example, if your ad appears for the term “Wedding Invitations” then your landing page should be specific ONLY to your wedding invitation products and services with calls to action like “BUY NOW”…you get the idea.  Sending specific PPC ads to your home page (especially the long tail terms mentioned above) will not result in good conversions as it requires too much extra effort for the user to find what you want them to find.

Timing is Everything: During the research process and throughout the whole campaign you need to research the best times of day for when people are searching for your product or service.  You may notice for example during the campaign that your click through rates are higher from 11 am to 2 pm and then pick up again at 7 PM.  Whatever it turns out to be, turn off the campaigns during the dead times so your visibiltiy will be more prominent during the more active hours.

Location, Location, Location: The great thing about Internet marketing using PPC is that you can further dial down on your target audience and stretch your budget using GEO-targeting.  For example, if you are a flower shop in downtown Chicago and only targeting people who live and work in the city, you probably do not want to run a competitive national campaign for “flowers”.  You can GEO-target the campaign so that only people within a given mile radius see the ads.  That way you are not wasting clicks on people who will most likely not be your customers.

All of these tips can be useful for any campaign…but are most useful when launching a campaign in a competitive industry.  Keep in mind for the most part pay per click marketing will only get more expensive, so plan accordingly.  Happy bidding!

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