In the early days of internet marketing and paper-per-click (PPC) campaigns, paid keywords on Google often cost very little, usually on average under a $1.00 per keyword per click. As the internet became saturated with companies advertising through pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live Search, and Bing, the competition for prime keywords became fierce and average costs per keyword rose exponentially. This has led many small business owners to believe that pay-per-click marketing is prohibitively expensive and not worth doing at all. Pay-per-click marketing doesn’t have to be expensive if executed and managed correctly.
Improve Customer Targeting
One of the primary strategies for reducing your pay-per-click cost and getting a higher return on your investment is to correctly target people who will become customers. Searchers who click your pay-per-click ads and then leave without buying are merely wasting their time and your money. Consider the following strategies to get your ads in front of the right eyes:
Geo-Targeting – The majority of businesses, especially small businesses, don’t service worldwide. If your business is a service related business such as plumbing or lawn care, then obviously anyone outside of a certain radius of your area is wanting to receive your services and those persons outside of that determined area should be excluded from seeing your ad. Geo-targeting allows you to tweak your pay-per-click campaign so that your ads only appear for searches done by local potential customers.
Ad-Scheduling – Selecting the time of day that you want your ad to appear can be trickier, but still worth exploring in many cases. This is especially important if your target demographic is only active, or most active, during certain times of the day.
Targeted Keywords – One of the most basic and fundamental aspects of pay-per-click marketing is selecting keywords that are targeted to your business. Research the keywords that are turning into conversions and focus on those. Consider making your keywords more specific to rule out periphery goods and services that are not relevant to your business.
Target Buyers Not Researchers – To increase your conversion rates you need to get your ads in front of those searchers who are ready to buy and in shopping mode, rather than searchers who are very early in the research phase. The good news is that when digging into your analytics and goal evaluations, you should be able to figure out the difference in what these two types of searchers enter. A good example is the difference between a searcher who types “order roses online” versus “tips for healthy roses.” The first searcher obviously wants to buy and is a good candidate for a florist business. The second searcher probably just wants gardening tips.
Align Your Message
In order for your pay-per-click marketing to be very successful, you will need to carefully align your overall message. This means using keywords that synergize with your ad copy and designing landing pages that engage the customer.
Good Ad Copy – It is crucial that your ad copy clearly and concisely conveys what your site and business are truly about. The last thing you want is for a searcher to read your ad copy, think your company can help them, then click on the link and discover that it isn’t what they were expecting. This will mostly likely result in the visitor leaving, after costing you a wasted click.
Correct Landing Page – Make your landing pages as convenient and relevant as possible for customers who arrive for a particular keyword. If you sell five particular categories of products you will probably want each one to have its own landing page relevant to the keyword. This prevents customers from becoming frustrated and leaving because they can’t find what they are looking for.
Eliminate Unnecessary Keywords
Optimizing your pay-per-click campaign is fundamentally about two things: bolstering what works and eliminating what doesn’t. The first two sections focused on what you could do to bolster your conversions, but just as important from a cost standpoint, is eliminating keywords that are wasting your money.
Negative Keywords – A great way to get rid of wasted clicks is by creating a list of negative keywords. When searchers include these keywords your ad will automatically be excluded. In the example above, a florist selling fresh cut roses might choose to exclude the word “grow” to try to remove the potential for gardening related searches. Another prime negative keyword might be “jewelry” since searchers might enter “rose gold jewelry” in an effort to find something completely unrelated to flowers.
Site Exclusion – Related to pay-per-click marketing is content match ads on the content network. This type of advertising occurs when someone is a reading an article about a topic and sees an ad for something related to what they are reading. This can be a very effective advertising strategy in some cases, but not all sites and content are created equally and some may waste your marketing budget on irrelevant visitors. Returning to the florist example, this hypothetical customer may want their ads to appear on a blog or article that is featured on a site about flowers or gifts. By contrast they would not want their ad featured on a jewelry site in which case once again the viewers are likely reading about rose gold jewelry instead of long-stem roses. The florist could avoid this problem by specifically excluding jewelry sites.
These tips are only one of the many ways that pay-per-click marketing can be optimized to minimize its cost. It is also important to keep in mind your overall marketing budget and the bid price you are paying for each of your keywords. Google Analytics is a great tool for evaluating the efficacy of your marketing campaigns and helping you find ways to cut costs.