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As you get into managing your pay-per-click campaign, you’ll want to ensure that your landing page is optimized for search, draws the visitor in, and makes the sales pitch seamlessly with a strong closing statement – also known as a call to action.

Designing your landing page for PPC requires that you keep a focus on quality. Your quality score will determine where your ads are placed and whether or not your landing page receives respectable organic search rankings.

Here are 5 solid principles to keep in mind when designing your landing page:

  1. Attractive Page Design – Let’s start with design. Your page has to immediately be attractive to a user. If it isn’t, they’ll back out and go somewhere else. Make sure your images don’t obscure the text, make it easy to navigate or scroll through, and be sure you choose the right fonts and graphics.
  2. User Experience – Site visitors will not wait for pages to load. Make sure yours load fast. Also, include Buy Now buttons that are easy to use and functional. Every element of your page must be easy to use and encourage interactivity.
  3. Keep It Simple – Get rid of any unnecessary elements. Everything must point the user to the final sale. Include plenty of white space around the Buy Now button to make it visible.
  4. Grab Your Visitor’s Attention – Use big fonts and eye-catching colors for headlines, subheads, and calls to action. Make sure your Buy Now and Order buttons are clearly visible. Draw your site visitor’s eyes to those parts of the page you want them to focus on.
  5. Make It Social – Include social share icons on your pages to encourage visitors to share your page. And show your social proof badges as well. People respect marketers who can prove their social worth.

Television advertising can get expensive. If you have a larger competitor that is using TV advertising and you want a way to nose in on his turf and siphon away a little business, you can do that with a surreptitious PPC campaign targeting keywords that your competitor is using in his TV ads.

So, how do you do that exactly?

What you want to focus on are brand-specific keywords related to your competition and the products they are promoting on TV. This works especially well if your competitor is promoting a special. Then you can use PPC to undercut that special.

For instance, let’s say your competitor is marketing helium balloons at a 20% discount for customers who buy them by the dozen. The normal price is $3 per balloon, but if the customer buys 12, then it’s $28.80. You can have a PPC campaign that targets your competitor’s brand name, the name of any particular products on sale, etc. Of course, target the generic keywords as well.

People generally search for brand names and product names after they see TV commercials. If you get people clicking on your ads with an offer that undercuts your competition – for example, you could offer 12 helium balloons for $26.00 – then you could siphon away some of that traffic.

It’s a sneaky tactic, but it works like a charm.

Many PPC advertisers have the false belief that quality score is all about click-through rates (CTR). That’s a dangerous belief because, first, it isn’t true, and secondly, if you focus entirely on CTR, then you’ll miss out on great PPC opportunities by not paying attention to other important details.

While Google doesn’t share its PPC algorithm and the factors it deems important for a good quality score, there are some very good reasons for believing that CTR is not the brass ring.

I’m not saying CTR isn’t important. I’m simply saying it isn’t the sole determinant of a high quality score. Other factors like landing page experience and load time, keyword groupings, and ad text also bear on the quality score of your PPC ads.

Google is very concerned about landing page load time. That’s why you can now measure your load time in Google Analytics. If it weren’t important, there’d be no way to measure it. You want to make sure that your landing page loads fast. Beyond that, you also want to make sure it is well optimized and that it answers the questions your visitors have when clicking on your PPC ads.

The ad itself is just as important. If your ad text is misleading or not relevant to the landing page, that will detract from your quality score.

Finally, if you have a lot of non-relevant keywords in your keyword group, that will also affect your PPC quality score. So don’t get wrapped around the axle on CTR. It’s important, but not all-important.

Incrementality is a term that is associated with how many PPC ad clicks are caused by a lack of similar organic results. In other words, if you have a PPC ad that targets a specific keyword phrase and you receive 100 ad clicks in the absence of an associated organic result, 50 of those are said to be incrememntal if they are not replaced by clicks on organic results when those organic results are present.

Let’s take a concrete example.

Let’s say you are targeting the keyword phrase “red banana.” If you have a PPC ad that you run periodically targeting that phrase and you get 100 clicks a day on that ad when there is no organic search result for your landing page, we’ll consider that your base of comparison. Now, let’s say you have an organic search result that appears alongside your PPC ad. If you get 50 clicks on the organic search result when it is present and 50 clicks on the PPC ad, then you do not have any incremental clicks on the ad. However, if you only get 25 clicks on the organic result and 50 clicks on the PPC ad, then 25% of your ad clicks are said to be incremental.

Google recently performed a study concerning incrementality on ad clicks.

The interesting thing about this study is that it shows that 50% of ad clicks are incremental when the advertiser has the top ranking for the targeted keyword phrase. If your organic result is in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th positions, then advertisers’ incrementality rate is 81%. The incrementality rate is 96% for advertisers whose organic rankings are in the 5th position or lower.

While Google is careful to point out that individual advertisers will have differing results, this is a telling study. For one thing, it illustrates the importance of high organic search rankings. But it also says that PPC advertising is more important when your organic search rankings are lower.

Recent news shows that mobile PPC is on the rise. In fact, it’s up to 25% of all pay-per-click advertising.

The good news is that click rates are high. People viewing PPC ads on their smartphones and tablets are clicking on ads. Here’s the bad news: Conversion rates are lower for mobile phones.

OK, I’ll buy Cynthia Boris’s argument. Mobile phone users are on the run, so when they see an ad and click through and want to make a purchase, they just visit the store instead and make the purchase in store. PC users, on the other hand, make the purchase online. Makes a lot of sense.

But let’s think about the future. Smartphones are still new. What will mobile advertising be like in 10 years when everyone has a smartphone?

My guess is that mobile PPC will be as popular and as profitable as PPC has ever been. I also think that conversion rates will be higher. Why? It’s likely that the mobile phone will be most people’s primary telecommunications device. Land lines will be gone.

If that happens, more people will use their phones for web browsing and shopping. They’ll likely make more purchases through their phone as well – particularly books, music, and video purchases. The same with the tablet. However, unlike the PC, people will carry their tablet with them and use it for web browsing and shopping while sitting stationary at the bus station, in the library, in the coffee shop, or even while sitting in their weekly business meeting.

Mobile PPC is on the rise along with smartphone and tablet use. It’s the wave of the future. You might as well get in now while click prices are low.

What’s it mean when paid search spending takes a dip? It could mean any number of things, but I think in this case it could mean that advertisers are beginning to figure out the right mix of their advertising needs.

I’m talking about numbers from the fourth quarter last year. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Overall ad spending went up for the year and down for the quarter
  • Internet display advertising spend was up 5.5% for the year and down 5.9% in the fourth quarter
  • Television advertising went up in both periods
  • Magazine, newspaper, and radio ad spending went down for both periods
  • Auto advertisers are spending the most
  • Both Amazon and eBay are spending less on advertising

But I think the most interesting thing from this study is that paid search spending was down both for the year and for the quarter in 2011. But why?

Maybe advertisers diverted a part of their ad spend budget to other channels – for instance, network TV and network radio. The ad spend for network TV rose 7.7% in the fourth quarter and declined 2% for the year. However, network radio advertising increased 4.3% in the fourth quarter while going up 2.7% for the year. Paid search advertising, on the other hand, went down 6.4% and 2.8%, respectively.

Advertisers have always been a fickle bunch. You never know where the money is going to go until it gets there. One thing for sure: radio print advertising is on the decline overall. Television advertising likely won’t go anywhere any time soon. But Internet advertising is still new enough that it stays in a state of flux. There are always new advertisers willing to give it a try and the old advertisers are still trying to figure out how to fit it into their budget optimally.

If you are an advertiser and you are trying to figure out where paid search fits into your overall ad budget, give us call. We’ve been doing this a long time.

There are a ton of Internet marketing tactics and strategies and more developing all the time, but they’re not all effective. The ones that are can take a while to produce benefits. PPC is the big exception.

Pay per click advertising is to the Internet what display advertising was to newspapers. You can pay for the right ad in the right paper and get it in front of the right audience. When you do, it’s pure gold.

News ads drove gobs and gobs of traffic to brick and mortar businesses because at its peak everyone in a community read the paper. The ad was seen by a large cross-section of community members. It was a numbers game, and the businesses who worked the numbers got paid handsomely. So too is PPC.

With pay per click advertising, you can write your ad, optimize it for your landing page, and activate it and get sales the same day. That’s not as likely with search engine optimization and social media.

Why is it likely with PPC?

Because 20% of search engine results pages traffic clicks on the PPC ads. If 1 million people search for a particular item that you have and you are advertising it through PPC, that 200,000 clicks. Divide that by the 5 top positions and there’s a potential 40,000 clicks for you.

Let’s say you only get 10,000 click-throughs. If 5% of them convert, that’s 500 new sales.

Your PPC ads go live the very day you create them. That means people will see them within minutes. If your landing page is optimized well and has a strong call to action, you’ll sales. You could see them today.

Are you hovering over your pay-per-click marketing CTR numbers daily, expecting them to change – maybe even go up? If so, you could be wasting your time.

It’s not that CTR isn’t important. Rather, it’s just that ROI is more important. After all, what difference does it make if your click-through rate is sky high if your conversion rate is below the floor? Return on investment is the measure of your success. It’s how much money you put in your pocket.

There are two ways to affect your ROI. Pay less or make more. Do both and you increase your ROI.

But the key is to do all the right things with the money that you do invest in PPC marketing. Simply writing ads and turning them on isn’t enough. You have to manage them, and that includes logging into your PPC accounts daily. There’s tweaking that needs to be done.

Bidding on your keywords is good, but are you bidding on keywords that you shouldn’t even be targeting? Prune your keyword list down to target only the most important keywords – the ones that will return a profit.

And something else that many PPC advertisers overlook is the value of a good landing page. Does your landing page need to be optimized? Are there elements on your page that don’t need to be there? If it isn’t closing sales from the traffic your ads are sending, then it isn’t doing its job and it’s costing you in terms of ROI. Optimize that landing page.

Instead of focusing on CTR, turn your eye toward ROI and improve your PPC marketing.

We’re continuing to deliver the latest news on Google+ developments and here’s another reason you should join the service. If you are a PPC advertiser on Google’s AdWords platform, then you can see social annotations if you turn them on.

I believe social annotations are going to become a key metric for a lot of online marketers. They could very well be a major part of your PPC campaigns going forward, and it’s real easy to see why.

Dan Friedman of Google’s Inside AdWords Crew says that 71% of shoppers online make decisions based on the recommendations of their friends and family. If that’s true, then you give your fans every opportunity to +1 your content, PPC ads included. When a searcher calls up a search results page and sees that their friends have +1ed your ads, they’ll either +1 it themselves or click on the link. It could increase the effectiveness of your advertising.

At the very least, you’ll have a key metric to judge the effectiveness of your advertising. Getting tons of +1s? Then you’re making an impact. Getting +1s but no click-throughs? You can evaluate the reasons why. Getting +1s and click-throughs but no conversions? Check your landing page.

Social annotations are here. Now it’s time to try them.

You’ve likely heard that content is king. And that’s true, if you are talking about website marketing strategies. Nothing beats content. But PPC is king in terms of online marketing strategies.

Pay per click marketing wins hands down for a number of reasons even though it costs you money.

For starters, PPC allows you to get instant results. Write your ad and get it live today, you can actually see click throughs today and marry those up with conversions. No other online marketing strategy has that potential. If you build a website, you’ll have to get it indexed. There’s no guarantee that will happen in one day.

Social media can be effective marketing, but it likely will take you some time since you have to build up a following, build trust, and develop a track record. That takes time.

Video marketing can also be effective. Again, the chances that you can produce a video, get it online, and see results in one day are pretty phenomenal. It can happen, but not likely.

Other online marketing strategies show similar potential. You may get better results long term from SEO, social media and video marketing, but only PPC promises same-day results. And that’s just one reason PPC is king. There are others.

Is there ever a time when you should stop your PPC campaign? Absolutely. But when is that time?

Obviously, you don’t want to stop something that is working. So if you have a PPC campaign that is bringing you an ROI, then that’s not a campaign you want to stop. But you do want to stop those campaigns that are not working.

How long should you let your pay per click campaigns go before you decide to stop them? You don’t want them to go on too long.

It depends on how much money you have invested, but if you aren’t experiencing enough click throughs or the click throughs you are getting aren’t converting, then that’s when you want to put your PPC ads on pause and redirect your advertising efforts.

CTR is an important metric. How many click throughs is enough? It’s different for every campaign, but if your click throughs don’t match your expectations, then it’s time to find out why. You can pause your campaign long enough to tweak your ads and see if that increases your CTR.

Conversion rate is another problem. If your PPC ads aren’t converting, it’s likely your landing pages. Have you tested them? If not, then you should pause your PPC campaign and engage in a little multivariate testing of your landing pages. Find out what works, then restart your pay per click campaigns when you have the kinks worked out.

For years now Google has encouraged advertisers to spend money on Google AdWords by giving away $50 credit to new advertisers. In many cases, if you set up a new Web hosting account, you got this credit from your host. Google is still doing this.

Now, Facebook has joined the party.

Starting next year, Facebook will give away $10 million in free advertising to small business owners.

There’s more to the story than Facebook merely wanting to steal your business from Google. That would be nice for Facebook, but they really want you to start advertising on their platform – even if you continue using Google AdWords.

Most small business owners haven’t figure out how to use social media as a marketing tool. But they understand advertising. With 800 million + users, Facebook has a huge opportunity for small businesses to tap into the company’s user base and that’s why they are willing to give you $50 in free advertising to get you to at least try it.

I think the opportunity is a great opportunity for small businesses. Google AdWords has proved to be a very effective marketing channel for businesses that have tried it. Facebook’s advertising platform is a different animal, but it’s an animal worth riding nonetheless. Pay per click is no longer a search engine advertising tool; it’s gone social.

Domain Sherpa conducted a study involving generic domain names and non-generic domain names on pay-per-click advertising. Their conclusion was that generic domain names were better for PPC advertising than non-generic domain names.

Heck, we could have told you that.

Generic domain names are not only good for PPC, they’re also good for organic search. The reason is real simple.

Searchers perceive generic domain names to have more credibility in the search results. Taking the divorce lawyer example provided in Domain Sherpa’s article, would you rather sit down with an attorney from DivorceLawyer.com or one from VladimerLaw.com?

For some reason, DivorceLawyer.com carries more points in terms of credibility and reputation when conducting a search at one of the search engines. That’s because the searcher is looking for a divorce lawyer. Unless that searcher is searching specifically for a brand name, no single brand is going to stand out as most credible in a generic search for a service.

That’s why generic domain names are preferred for SEO and PPC by most search engine optimization experts.

I think generic domain names work better for SEO as well, for similar reasons. It’s a matter of credibility where the generic search is concerned. When planning your next online marketing plan, take that into consideration.

The best online marketers have known for at least six years how to use pay-per-click advertising to improve their organic search rankings. Here are 4 ways you can use PPC to make your organic search marketing more effective:

  • Keyword Research – One of the most popular ways that PPC advertisers use their ads is to test new keywords. If you achieve high click-throughs on your keywords, then they should also be good for your organic search campaigns.
  • Testing Meta Descriptions – If the ad text in your ad is effective, you’ll get more click throughs. You can use that same text for your meta descriptions, however, the ad text is limited to 70 words. The best meta descriptions employ 80-150 words so you might want to add a little bit more to those when you convert them.
  • Testing Page Titles – If your PPC ads generate activity, then you can re-use your PPC ad titles for your web page titles as well.
  • Testing Landing Pages – PPC is perfect for testing new landing pages. Do they convert? If they won’t convert for PPC, then they won’t convert for organic search either. Test them with PPC, tweak them, then use them for organic search.

Pay per click advertising offers the perfect opportunity to test for organic search. Don’t let that opportunity slip away.

Many small business owners are beginning to see the value in Facebook ads. There are plenty of reasons why Facebook ads can be better for marketing your small business than PPC. One reason is because of the better features for targeted marketing. You can actually narrow your Facebook ads down to more focused targeting.

You can also get creative with your Facebook ad targeting. Much more creative than with traditional PPC.

Here are five tips for making the most of your Facebook advertising, as shared by this article.

  1. Set your goals and plan. You won’t be very effective, with Facebook ads or PPC, if you don’t know what you want to achieve.
  2. Use creative targeting tactics. One example is to use your Facebook ad to say “Happy Birthday” to prospects a few days before their birthday. Try that with PPC!
  3. Choose text and graphics that compliment each other. This is very important and could increase your click-throughs tremendously.
  4. Create and test multiple ads. Instead of just creating one ad and going with it, do some multivariate testing with more than one ad.
  5. Be ready to receive the traffic. Make sure your Facebook page is updated and ready to handle the traffic you’ll get from your ads.

Facebook ads are a relatively new opportunity in PPC. Make them work for you.

PPC, like all other things (on the Web and off) has evolved. And it continues to evolve. Google has largely been responsible for that evolution, but Facebook has played its part too. And it’s likely to evolve even more, but who knows who will be most influential in how that happens in the future?

One way that PPC has evolved is in the tools that advertisers use to track their campaigns. Both Google and Bing, and Facebook now, have tools that allow you to track your own PPC campaigns. But you might benefit more by using a third-party tool that you pay for. Especially if you run a lot of PPC campaigns on more than one platform.

PPC has evolved in other ways too. For instance, pay per click has morphed into pay per action. Advertisers can pay for user activity in a number of ways. Here are some of the more popular pay-per-advertising models:

  • Pay per lead
  • Pay per impression
  • Pay per view (for videos)
  • Pay per call (for mobile and phone actions)

You can expect some of these to expand as technology improves. Currently, pay per impression is generally expressed in terms of 1,000 impressions. But what will it be ten years from now?

Pay per click advertising has become one of the most effective branding and marketing channels online. Don’t expect it to stay the same. It will change. And mostly for the better.

Advertising has always been about multiple points of action. On one hand, advertisers expect to earn a return on investment. But they also want to brand themselves in the marketplace. Sometimes you can do one or the other but not both.

The first step to using PPC advertising as a branding tool is to set your goals. Determine what your point of ROI is for each click price point. Can you achieve branding effects by limiting your ad spend to a maximum so that you can also realize an ROI? If not, then you have a choice to make.

Is branding more important or is that ROI more important?

The key to using PPC as a branding tool is to plant your company name or product brand in the top of your prospect’s mind. You want them to think of your company when they think of the benefits of using your service. To do that, you’ve got to establish your brand as a top brand through psychological condition. That may require throwing out your advertising budget and just focusing on being No. 1.

Large corporations have been making these decisions for years. Online, with PPC particularly, it’s a decision that even small companies can make.

Does it matter how much you spend on advertising? Does it matter how much you spend on pay per click advertising? I’d say it only matters if you are not achieving an ROI on your investment. Or, rather, it doesn’t matter if you are achieving a positive ROI.

It seems that Google is making hand over fist on the top 20 PPC ad keywords.

No wonder. Look at the top 5:

  • Insurance
  • Loans
  • Mortgage
  • Attorney
  • Credit

If you are in the banking, mortgage, credit, or legal business, then you have to pay top dollar for your PPC ads or risk big chances that you won’t get much traffic from your advertising. But the bottom line for any advertiser is, How much ROI do you realize based on your ad spend?

If you are a small insurance company, for instance, and you target your PPC advertising toward a specific niche within the industry or a geographic location, then you can cut your ad spend down based on a narrower market definition. You are also more likely to realize an ROI.

The key is to target your advertising to the specific niche you want to do business with. Narrow your market down as far as you can before you advertise. Long tail keywords are much more profitable for smaller budgets than general keyword phrases.

Predictions show that local search ad revenue will increase by as much as 10% per year through 2015. Furthermore, 30% of all searches performed by then will be local in nature. That spells it out loud, if you’re listening: Get on now to get ahead.

By “local search ad revenue,” let’s be clear what we’re talking about. It’s a clear reference to pay-per-click advertising. And that leads us to an obvious question: Whose revenue?

The search engines, of course, will be profiting from that growth. However, that doesn’t mean that others won’t profit as well. Local businesses that learn how to leverage online advertising – particularly PPC advertising – will also profit. They will profit from the traffic they receive from that advertising.

Are you ready to take that leap into local search advertising? You should be. Historic studies show that PPC advertising pays. Advertisers who use PPC to drive traffic to their websites and who learn to harness the power of the written word on their landing pages do rather well.

Here’s the big difference between the PPC advertising of the past and the PPC of the future: It’s going local. All that really means is that local businesses are going to enjoy a lot more of the benefits that global businesses have been enjoying for the past few years. Are you ready to get in on that?

In the 1980s, it was chic to buy a mailing list from a list broker who might promise that the list was targeted to a specific type of customer within a specific industry. You could call the list or use the list for direct mailing. Either way, you were spending money. And if you used the list and it brought you some business, then you were effectively buying targeted sales leads. You were buying customers.

Can you do the same thing online? Can you buy targeted sales leads or customers online? You sure can.

It’s called pay per click advertising. With PPC, it’s all about buying clicks. You bid on what a click is worth to you, write an ad that draws attention, point your link to a landing page, and snag the contact information from your prospect.

These types of leads are solid leads because they have responded to your calls to action. They responded to your ad. Then they responded to your landing page with a request for private information. If you use an autoresponder with a double opt-in process, then they’ve given you permission to contact them twice. They couldn’t spell it out for you any better.

So what do you do with those leads then? You market to them. Aggressively. Tell them what you have to offer and how much is costs. Sell them on the benefits. When you close a sale, it’s because you effectively bought a lead. A targeted lead.