Optimizing PPC budgets driving through a windshield

When reviewing your web site design performance, part of the challenge with evaluating your search marketing performance is analyzing where traffic is coming from to see the results it is producing. With the economy forcing budgets into downward spirals, you need to minimize your PPC spend and maximize revenues from the clicks that come in. When optimizing your PPC ads for maximum performance, sometimes you have to pretend you are driving a car and looking through the windshield of the car in front of you. What this means is that instead of focusing purely on high click through rates so that you have a strong CTR with Google, you may need to focus on your actual conversion rates (this means the people that click through who also fill out a form to take an action on your site). If your conversions are HIGH, then you can be confident your click throughs will be fine too. Remember, without conversions you won’t have any money to pay for more clicks. So focus on the scoreboard, not your rushing yardage.

An optimal way to make a meaningful impact conversion rates is to use the ad copy – though it is just a few words basically – to let the customer know before they click, what they should expect to see on the other side. Tease them, reveal a few things, but don’t pull off a surprise effect which leaves them stumbling and looking for that exit sign. Bottom line is to deliver the message even before they reach your site.

What choices are in your arsenal of delivering pre-expectation ad copy? Price, Urgency and Value.

With regards to price – ie. discounts – you will likely have more clicks (thus increasing your CTR) but your conversions are at risk if the clickers are not yet in purchase mode. It sucks to pay search engines for research oriented clicks. So what you can do is to focus instead of terminology that is more closely related to a prospect who is in PURCHASING mode.

The simplest method is to create urgency by using time or number of openings available.
– One example is a sale date. For example, “Sale Ends Nov. 1st, Order now. use code #1234x”
– Another example is to use competition in the form of “10 left at this price. sale ends today. Free Shipping!”

How to reduce your traffic budget for Pay per click or PPC

It used to be that clicks could be purchased for pennies per click. Even with the insanely high fraud rates of 30-40%, it still was worth it to buy as much traffic as you could afford. In the last few years, the costs have skyrocketed. And as more people become web savvy, the competition for those elusive top sponsored ads, becomes even more acute and thus the prices go up another notch.

When I began helping other clients develop their own 4 Pillar Internet Success strategies, I used to focus mostly on search engines. The traffic from them was basically free and therefore it made a lot of sense on how to dominate on free search engines. The funny thing is that as their rankings increased their traffic increased but their conversions did not move in sync. And the reason that made the most sense was the PPC ads on the top and right of Google for example. The heat map studies show that 7x as many people click on the free search engine rankings results as people who click on the ads.

That’s great if you have good rankings. Problem is that people tend to forget that 1 out of 7 people still click on Sponsored ads. So if you are willing to give away 14% or so of your business opportunities to your competition, then you can ignore PPC. But, if you want to take advantage of every business opportunity from a targeted prospect (remember the user typed in the query into the search engine because ostensibly he or she is looking for your service) then you need to buy sponsored PPC ads. So maybe this is counterintuitive but the point is that as your business grows and your rankings grow, so too will your PPC budget grow because 14% of the traffic will always click on the ADS.

What I intend to cover in this PPC section are strategies, case studies and applications designed to get the most out of your PPC budget.