Online marketing is a vast tradition with many tributaries. There’s a lot to know, and a lot to learn, as we try out different tools and measure their success.
Will Green of PPC.org is a master of the pay-per-click advertising campaign. He took a moment to tell us about how to find the right home for your ads, to save yourself money while still attracting the widest audience.
How did you get started with online marketing?
If I went back to the start of my online career, the main reason I started doing online marketing was for my website AskWillOnline.com. I didn’t have the long-term traffic from organic sources yet so had to rely heavily on PPC traffic to maintain and keep a steady flow of traffic to the website. Of course, this was years ago and, in that time, I have tried and have had errors, improved and analyzed my campaigns to perfect it for my target audience. So, in short, it was to give my website another source of high-quality traffic that I could control myself easily.
For those that don’t know, could you briefly describe what pay-per-click advertising is, and why it’s necessary?
Pay-per-click advertising, in its most simplest of forms, is a type of advertising online that works on the basis that if an advert gets clicked by a web user, the advertiser pays for that click to a web page of their choice. There are two forms of PPC adverts, being search and display. Search has adverts on search engines above and to the side of the organic results, while display adverts appear in ad units on the PPC publisher’s websites being Adsense (for Google). It is kind of cyclical in a way since the advertisers need publishers and the publishers need the advertisers for PPC to really work well.
It is necessary depending on what objectives you have set for yourself online. But to be honest, whatever objective you set for yourself online can be achieved with the additional help of PPC. It is so customizable and adapts to what you want, which makes it a great source of paid traffic.
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of running a PPC campaign?
Like most forms of online advertising, running a PPC campaign will have benefits and cons. A PPC campaign can be changed and adapted easily to what you want. Take another form of advertising like banner advertising: You can’t do this easily. I guess that is a large reason why PPC is used by millions worldwide.
As well as this, it is a cost-effective solution to online advertising. Advertisers can budget easily and get guaranteed results (traffic at the minimum) for the budget that they set aside for PPC without paying through the roof for it.
The main disadvantage I found with PPC, especially when I was starting up, was the fact that it is so customizable. No matter how good an advertiser you think you are, your first-ever PPC campaign will be quite disappointing to say the least. The results will be below par. It is only with experience, learning from your past PPC mistakes and understanding the features of PPC that makes PPC a great form of online advertising to use. Take banner advertising: You could go straight into it without much background and make a relative success of it. With PPC, there is much more knowledge an advertiser needs to know to succeed with it.
What are some ways that you use to measure ROI for PPC?
ROI is a funny statistic for me. I know some advertisers that don’t use it at all but still get success in PPC. When it comes to the return on investment, I like to keep mine as simple as possible. I have a campaign up at the moment that is selling books. Therefore, for this campaign, my ROI will be measured by (revenue-cost)/cost with the main cost being the PPC campaign cost and the cost to print the book.
However, that doesn’t work for every campaign. Like I said, I had a campaign with the conversion to simply gain high-quality traffic. For this situation, I calculated the ROI with respect to the bounce rate of the paid traffic. I wanted to target traffic through PPC and keep them hooked to my website so that they increase my direct traffic. For this reason, I wanted the bounce rate/exit rate of the paid traffic to be as low as possible since if this is low, it means that they find the website useful and are looking at more than one page (and are more likely to directly visit my website again).
When it comes to implementing the data from calculating the ROI, I simply make a graph of it and take note of any correlation I see. I will have a realistic minimum ROI that I don’t let any of my campaigns get below. If the ROI from the graphs has negative correlation, I look to change a few things in my campaign so that the ROI doesn’t stay on the down (you can do this by extrapolating the data). If it has positive correlation, well, I won’t complain!
In a recent blog post, you mentioned a “social approach to marketing.” Do you have any tips that have been particularly useful, as far as using social media for marketing?
My main tip for anyone that wants to do social media for marketing is to concentrate your efforts on two or three platforms only. The problem with social media for marketing is that there are literally so many different platforms that you can advertise on. For an advertiser, it can become quite overwhelming to take advantage of every single one for marketing. For this reason, choose two or three that you deem most appropriate to your objectives and concentrate your efforts on just them. It is better to have two or three well-optimized campaigns in social media than to spread your efforts across five or six.
In another recent post, PPC campaigns were broken down into two categories: display PPC and search PPC, where display is ads run on social media, and search is showing your ads in search engine results. How successful have you been with each approach, and what are some things to consider when deciding where to place your ads?
I would have to be honest that I have had more success with display adverts than search adverts for the simple fact that I have been using the publisher side of PPC for far longer than I have been using the advertiser’s side to PPC (so I better understand how they work, etc.). The main difference, I find, between display and search adverts is the fact that display adverts enable image adverts. I like to use image adverts as I usually can express my advert better, making it more enticing to be clicked on. However, search adverts are still extremely effective, so using both is the best way I go about PPC campaigns.
You also mentioned researching keywords when formulating a PPC campaign. What are some methods and resources you use for this research?
I have a few different methods when it comes to choosing keywords from research. Primarily, I set aside a portion of my budget to create a completely experimental campaign. This helps me get an idea of the market I am heading into so that I can prepare myself better when the real campaign goes live.
I like to do a lot of secondary research. For this reason, I’ll access information already online and analyze the type of adverts that appear on search results to the types of keywords I search for. Also, a great tool to use is the Google keyword tool, which informs you of the competition for any keyword out there. This, in turn, gives me an idea of the competition for keywords, the prices I would have to pay and the type of quality each keyword has.
Luckily, for me, the markets I have been heading into I have had many people around me locally that have been my target market. For this reason, I simple hold meetings with these people to produce a brainstorm of all the keywords they would search for (which actually produces many useful keywords that have low competition, a low CPC but lots of high-quality traffic)!
Do you have any advice for optimizing a landing page?
I honestly could type out 10,000 words to this question, but I know most people will probably lose interest after 100 words! There are literally so many ways an advertiser can optimize a landing page. The main way I like to optimize my landing pages is by using analytical programs that analyze the traffic on the page (heat maps are great at this). Knowing what the web user is doing on the landing page helps me know how to improve it. For example, if I have a click through page but the web users are clicking on the wrong link, I might need to make the link I want them to click on bigger and louder in color so they notice that link and click on that one instead of the other.
I also think that social media plugins on landing pages are a must, too. They enable your paid traffic to share your landing page, which opens your landing page up to a new audience that is likely to have similar interests to your paid traffic (and, therefore, may result in conversions). In essence, you are getting extra contextual traffic for free.
What tools and apps would you say are essential for any online marketer, not necessarily just people running a PPC campaign?
It is a great saying that the best things in life are usually free; the same can apply to the tools/apps you can use as an online marketer. It is an absolute must to use Google Analytics; the program provides a level of analytical statistics that even some of the paid options cannot match. I find a social media plugin, such as AddThis, works extremely effectively on landing pages especially because of the fact that programs like AddThis allow you to analyze the traffic if they should choose to share your landing page with their plugin.
I also find it helpful to see how my landing page looks on different browsers and operating systems. You may think you are failing for “this” and “that” reason. But the real reason for failing in online marketing might be because your landing page is not optimized to support all the operating systems and browsers web users use. There are many free websites that let you see your landing page within different operating systems and browsers to see if your landing page’s design and theme are compatible or not.
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