How to Skyrocket Your Paid Search Profits
Because of increasing competition that has led to higher advertising costs with paid search, many battle-scarred – “do-it-yourself” – businesses have not realized their intended objectives. Although publicized as a straightforward, self-service marketing tool, paid search, like Overture (re-branded as Yahoo! Search marketing) and Google AdWords, involves far more knowledge than most businesses are able to invest from in-house resources.
Faced with a mediocre or worse performing paid search campaign and the pressure to allocate resources elsewhere, many businesses choose to drop their paid search or scale back their budgets – leaving ripe buyers waiting to be harvested by their competitors.
If you face paid search challenges, before you decide to drop or scale it back, try these proven strategies to skyrocket your profits.
A. Get “Down and Dirty” with Keyword-Level Tracking
Track your paid search campaign at the keyword-level. To manage an effective paid search campaign, you must know your “per click” results from the money you have spent.
For example, if you have 1,000 keywords active in your paid search campaign and you spend a total of $3,000 a month – do you know which of the 1,000 keywords generated your sales?
What if 80% of your sales came from 20% of your keywords? Moreover, what if this 20% accounted for just a small percentage of your $3,000 monthly cost?
Without keyword-level tracking you will not be able to make financially beneficial assessments. Time-tested experience shows that the 80/20 rule applies to pay-per-click marketing.
WARNING: Beware of Matching Options!
Although matching options (i.e. broad, advanced, exact, phrase and so on) offered by Google Adwords, Overture and other paid search engines provide “convenience” they unfortunately skew your keyword performance results.
If you setup a “broad-match” for the keyword “real estate”, you will attract visitors who have entered any possible variation of the term “real estate” including geographically specific “real estate” keywords like “Arizona real estate” that may have absolutely no relevance to your product or service.
Although it takes more time to add exact (or standard) keywords to your paid search campaigns, you will reap significant rewards and a quick payback from the profits generated through understanding your individual keyword performance.
B. Developing Custom Landing Pages
I have written a great deal about landing pages lately. Why? Because they generate profitable results through converting paid search visitors into customers.
Paid search marketing is unique compared to natural search. In part because you have the convenience to select specific keywords, write specific ads and direct the click-through to a specific web page (a.k.a. landing page). This “connect-the-dots” process creates the need for consistency among a visitor’s expectation from the keyword they enter to the ad that draws their attention and down to the web page, they “land-on”. Relevancy and consistency are essential for an effective paid search campaign.
When I review a marketing plan and its associated strategies with clients, they often laugh because I get passionate about the power of landing pages. I get passionate because they work so well at generating leads and sales that I can’t believe everyone is not using them!
So what are landing pages? A “landing page” is a custom web page developed exclusively for a paid search campaign. It is highly keyword relevant (so you may have multiple landing pages tied to different sets of keyword themes) and they focus a visitor’s attention on one call-to-action (e.g. requesting a visitor to take immediate action). The sales copy (content) on a landing page connects the visitor with the paid search ad and keyword they searched for and clicked from.
The copy is strongly benefit-oriented (e.g. communicates the value the visitor will receive from your product or service). A landing page’s layout and graphics relate and support the keyword and paid ad.
For instance, if a visitor clicks on your paid search ad for the keyword “website conversion” in Google and arrives at your landing page, the landing page will clearly communicate “website conversion”, how website conversion will benefit them and presents a call-to-action like a contact form for them to complete.
It may also contain a “secondary call-to-action” which could offer a lower commitment action like an email opt-in in case a visitor is not ready for a higher commitment action (e.g. request a phone call) yet still wants to begin a relationship with the business. Testimonials, case studies, and graphics all support the benefit and value of “website conversion”. In essence, the whole visitor “experience” created by the landing page is “website conversion” and its value to the visitor.
For example, if a visitor expects to find “real estate book” as demonstrated by their keyword search, your landing page should present a “real estate book”, (relevancy), offer a consistent message with the paid ad that attracted the visitor to click-through (consistency) and communicate your product or service benefits to fit the visitor’s needs (connection). If you get these three right (assuming that you have a quality product and a fair market price point) on your landing page, your leads or sales will skyrocket while your costs drop.
One of the reportedly major reasons why paid search campaigns fail is because businesses direct all of their click-throughs to their home page. Since most businesses’ home pages are designed to serve mutliple audiences (i.e. media relations, investors, current clients, potential prospects, customer services, etc.) they do not provide the level of relevancy and consistency expected from a visitor.
C. Luring Buyer Intentions with Keyword Selection
Keyword selection is important. The keywords you select provide access to “pools” of visitors at different stages in their buying cycle. By selecting the right keywords for your products or services, you can open a completely new market of ready-to-buy visitors.
You see – results from advertising occur through relevancy, connection and consistency. In search whether paid or natural, the visitor (search user) drives the process. By entering a keyword into a search engine, the visitor is telling you what they want to find. From a marketers’ perspective – this is a dream come true! A potential buyer telling you what they “expect” to find on your website and what they are considering for purchase.
So when selecting keywords, make sure you thoroughly canvass your marketplace using strategies such as:
• Your competitors’ websites
• Your website’s copy
• Third-party tools – Overture’s Suggestion Tool, WordTracker, and others
• Your website metrics program (look for “natural search engine” keyword phrases)
• Search engines like Ask Jeeves or Alta Vista (who suggest keyword variations)
Most importantly, “THINK” but never “ASSUME” about which keywords your potential customers may use to find your products or services. Never give up searching for new keywords to setup and test. Both seasonal and even weekday keyword performance fluctuations should be analyzed and studied in addition to potential associations people make to find your products and services.
D. Performance-driven Bid Strategies
All paid search engines possess bidding nuances. However, for the two largest, Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, do not get locked into the top bid position. Test how each keyword performs against your website’s sales or lead conversion metrics up to the seventh bid position.
Depending on your product or service, you may be amazed how bid position six attracts less click-throughs but produces higher sales or lead conversions on your website. Test, test and test – the outcome may mean lower costs and higher sales conversions for you.
E. Writing Negatively-Qualifying and Appealing Ads
Finally, always test different ads by interchanging words in the title and description. For Google Adwords, try split-testing two different titles and descriptions and add a unique tracking code to each one so you can identify which one causes the best sales conversion increase. In order to split-test at the keyword-level, you must structure your campaign correctly. If you are tracking at the keyword-level then this will be automatic, if not, get some expert help. Notice that I did not state, “the best “click-through rate increase”.
Because “a lot of nothing” (i.e. a lot of traffic without sales or lead conversion) is not a financially effective strategy. Consider that even a single word change in your ad can create a significant jump in your paid search profitability.
Follow these strategies immediately to send your paid search profits soaring!