In many ways, the ability to create the optimal PPC campaign is based on factors you may not have been thinking about. Most notably is your website design, but other factors include:
- How competitive your market is, relative to your budget.
- How your most important keywords have performed across the entire Google system. Yes, your competitors performance for those same keywords is a major component. This has a significant impact on your keyword quality scores and quality score is the biggest factor in determining what you pay per click.
- Local advertisers with smaller markets and less traffic, find it difficult to break through the system-wide quality scores.
- Your larger competitors with deeper pockets can afford to spend more and take a longer-term view.
- The lifetime value of a customer will determine how much you can afford to pay to acquire a new customer.
- What is the action you want your “visitor from search” to take? Is it a lead or a sign-up that doesn’t require anything more than a first name and email address or is it a $300 sale?
- Do you have actions visitors can take within the next 30 days, which we can tract, that indicate you are connecting with visitors? If you don’t, you will find it difficult to know what keywords and ad copy are working and which aren’t.
These and other factors will play a large part in achieving your goals, yet they are beyond what a campaign manager can control.
But let’s focus on your website because it’s so important.
In an ideal world, you would build your website with the visitor from search in mind and optimize your website, especially your landing pages, specifically for that type of visitor. You would begin by understanding what I call the “search vocabulary” of your niche markets. These are the words and phrases prospects use when they shop for products and services using search engines. Google calls them search terms or search queries. Not to be confused with keywords. And they might very well be terms you wouldn’t have thought of and don’t appear anywhere on your current website.
Visitors from search are a unique kind of prospect. They tend to be cynical, skeptical and have very little patience. From the moment they arrive at your landing page, you have 3-5 seconds to make a connection with them. If you don’t, they will “bounce” and probably will not be coming back. How you create landing pages that are optimized for visitors from search, is called conversion optimization. Examples of actions that can be tracked in AdWords are discussed further down this page.
But let’s focus on the search vocabulary and how it relates to your website design. To do this I need to introduce you to a new term called the “search continuum”. It refers to how users search for products and services as they move through the phases of seeking information to shopping and then ultimately buying. Ideally, you want to pay for one click from any given visitor and then they buy from you. Unfortunately, it seldom works that way, especially with search marketing where you have no previous established relationship with the prospect.
Unless you are willing to make a considerable investment in a website make-over, having the right AdWords strategy has a lot to do with how your website is designed. I’d like to provide a generic example to make the point.
- The information seeker who is early in the search continuum, uses generic search queries such as “wagons”. At this point, they want to know what they look like, how they are used and perhaps ball park pricing.
- The shopper uses search queries that are a bit more refined, such as “wagons for kids”. This user wants to know who makes wagons for kids, what are they made of, what specific products are available and some comparison shopping information, preferably from multiple manufacturers and distributors.
- The buyer users search queries such as “American Flyer AF-2307”. This prospect is very close to purchasing and will be more interested in price, availability, shipping costs and service after the sale.
Each of these three scenarios imply very different conversations with your prospect and therefore very different landing pages and website content. If your website is very product oriented, with pages of detailed specifications and you only represent one supplier, then you shouldn’t be using keywords indicative of the information seeker and perhaps not even the shopper. If you do, you may wind up turning off the visitor or at a minimum, paying for that visitor to click on your ad several times as they move through the search continuum. Your focus should be on prospects much further in the search continuum who are very close to making a purchase.
For another perspective on this same basic issue, read my article titled PPC essentials.
The degree to which a PPC campaign is implemented will be dependent on several factors, which may or may not be economically or technically feasible for your company. Certain aspects of the campaign management will be performed based on the level of experience and tools the campaign manager has at their disposal. However, in many cases, especially for companies who only have a basic website and a minimal budget for internet marketing, even the best campaign manager will be limited in what they can do, especially when it comes to producing tangible results in the short run.
Successful search engine advertising is focused on one very important factor; Return on Investment (ROI) and the primary tool used to calculate ROI is called Conversion tracking. A conversion takes place when a visitor to your website is able to take some meaningful action which can be measured and monetized.
If you have no meaningful actions visitors can take that can be tied back to a specific keyword, then you need to construct your campaign and adjust your expectations accordingly. For example, if the action you are looking for from your PPC campaign is to have a prospect call you on the phone, it will take longer to know if your campaign is producing the results you are hoping for and it will be more difficult to optimize.
John Wanamaker’s famous 1886 quote sums it up very well:
“I know that 50% of my advertising is wasted…
…I just don’t know which half!”
A good campaign manager will begin with a thorough analysis of your web site to determine what, if any visitor actions can be monitored to begin the process of establishing ROI based advertising. In many cases, some important actions already exist, even if it is only the action of visiting a specific page on the site. Other actions may be able to be added without much difficulty or expense such as creating a printable coupon. The ultimate action is to have a visitor actually buy something on your site! However, that implies that your site is capable of e-commerce, which most small businesses that are not web-based, simply are not set up to do.
Here are some ideas for actions that can be tracked and used to help establish ROI:
- Visiting a specific page on your site
- Sign up for a mini email course
- Downloading a white paper or application
- Playing a video clip
- Take a poll
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Print a coupon
- Listen to an audio clip
- Fill out a “contact us” form
- Sign up for a conference call
- Sign up to receive a series of emails on a particular topic
- Submit a question
- Make a call
- Register / Sign-up for an event
- Email to a friend
- Buy something!!!!
These are all actions which indicate that you have connected with the visitor and you are beginning a relationship, and these actions can be traced back to specific keywords, search terms and ads. Now you have empirical data to know what’s working!
Once you and your campaign manager have decided what your site is capable of, web analytics should to be installed. Website analytics allows the tracking of visitor movements and actions while on your site. In addition, they tell you lots of other useful information that can help fine tune your campaign for greater efficiency and improved ROI.