Yes—I wanted to scream.
One of my “friends,” on Facebook actually, advised his “friends” to stop using pay-per-click ads and ONLY do joint ventures to build their list!
This, my friend, (no quotes) is very bad advice.
Yes, joint ventures are a great channel for building your business, but so is pay-per-click (PPC). The major difference is PPC has an immediate cost associated with it. If you do it wrong, it could mean thousands of dollars wasted.
However, it you do it correctly, the rewards are plentiful!
PPC advertising has opened up a new world of possibilities. You can set up an AdWords account in five minutes. Plus, you can start seeing results immediately. And—best of all—if your ad isn't working, you can replace it with something new.
Pay-per-click allows you to test ads quickly and easily and at a much lower cost than many other marketing channels.
Another benefit of PPC is that you can narrow its reach. You can show your ad to everyone on the Internet . . . or you can target it to specific countries, regions, states, and even cities. You can change your copy anytime you choose. And through multivariate testing (MV), you can put as many versions of your ad on the Internet as you want.
You don't need to start off with a major investment. Start with the minimum. See how the search engine performs in terms of the traffic it delivers and how well that traffic converts into paying customers. Then alter your marketing tactics accordingly.
But before you embark on pay-per-click advertising, understand that a successful campaign all starts with that tiny little ad.
Writing a Pay-Per-Click Ad That Works
Because this is a very technical channel and marketing tactic, many business owners and even marketing directors leave it up to their “techies” to put together their PPC campaign. This is a big, big mistake.
Think of it this way: Would you have your computer guy write your direct email advertising? Of course not. You'd hire a professional copywriter, someone who knows how to write copy, to write the ad. The copywriter would send his copy to your email manager, who would send it out. But the copy itself would have been written by someone who knows how to sell, not someone who knows how to send out bulk emails.
Don't ask a technical person to write your PPC ad. Even if he's happy to do it, he doesn't have the expertise to do a great job. Remember, when it comes to marketing, success is determined at the margins. Good copywriters give you the edge you need to run a profitable business. Don't shortchange your marketing efforts. You can't afford to.
Pay-per-click ads are typically small. On Google, they are usually limited to four lines of text: a headline, two lines of body copy, and your URL. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to create a URL that describes your product. If your website sells discontinued dishware, your URL should say so.
It could be something like ReplacementChina.com or DiscontinuedDishes.com. That way, if people type your URL directly into their browser, they have an idea of what to expect.
The body of your PPC ad should offer an enticing and, if possible, immediate benefit to the reader. It might say something like “Millions of discontinued plates,” “Find your pattern fast,” or “Biggest savings on china replacements.”
Your headline should grab your prospective customer’s attention. Unusual or newsworthy headlines can do that. A headline like “Designer China Rip-Offs” or “Is Your Dishware Safe?” can convince your prospect to click on your ad rather than another one that has a more ordinary headline.
Brainstorming headlines is worth the time you invest in doing it, because good headlines can double or even triple the response rates that ordinary headlines will give you. One way to initiate a headline brainstorming session is to take a look at headlines that are working well for your competitors. Hint: The ones that are working well are those that you see repeated over and over. If there is one thing that the Internet hasn't changed about marketing it is this: Marketers love to rerun ads that work.
Here are six quick tips for making your PPC ads stand out and pull better:
1. Use your keywords in the ad text—especially in your headline. Keywords in your ad text that match what was searched for show up as bold in your ad and boost your relevancy.
2. Offer something free or promote a sale. Everyone likes free stuff and bargains. But make your free and discounted offers stand out by making them unusual in some way. Get your creative people in on the process.
3. Use symbols or vary your punctuation where applicable. Odd punctuation can catch a searcher's eye and make the person click your ad over your competitors' ads.
4. Specificity helps. You don’t have much space in this kind of advertising, but it’s still better to be as specific as you can. “127 Ways to Boost Your Bottom Line” is better than “How to Boost Your Bottom Line.”
5. Make your offer unique. Good products have unique qualities that make them stand out from the competition. Mention those USP (unique selling points) when you can.
6. Make your offer urgent. Giving prospects a reason to reply now rather than later will increase response rates. Play with these techniques to find what works best. Test like crazy. And since you can write several versions of your text ads for each ad group when you use Google AdWords, let Google rotate them and optimize the best ads for the best results.
Remember, relevancy is the most important factor in search engine marketing. Whatever you do, make sure your ad text speaks to the keywords you're bidding on.
Pay-Per Click: The Past, Present, and Future
Howie Jacobson, AdWords consultant and an expert direct marketer, has been involved with PPC marketing since the early days, before Google came to dominate the industry with AdWords.
“I first encountered pay-per-click marketing at a talk at a systems seminar that I attended in September 2002,” says Jacobson. “Google AdWords was a few months old at that point. So it wasn’t on our radar. But we were all into Overture, which was the first pay-per-click search engine.”
It quickly became apparent that this new type of marketing was a way to run direct-response ads, pay only for performance, and measure results like never before.
Jacobson explains that, soon, Google AdWords pushed Overture (which was bought by Yahoo!) out of the top spot. “You get instant gratification. You run your ad and 15 minutes later you’re getting traffic, as opposed to Overture, which typically took five days to a week to approve your ad,” says Jacobson.
These days, in addition to list building and optimization work for clients, Jacobson uses AdWords mostly to test ad messages that he will later roll out in other marketing channels.
He points out that another innovative use for AdWords is to help design a website. The key, again, is testing. You create identical ads and send half of the prospects to one Web page, and the other half to a redesigned page (with different copy, graphics, order form, etc.). Whichever site brings in more sales is kept.
Jacobson predicts some changes on the horizon for pay-per-click marketing.
He sees ads becoming more local—targeted to Web surfers in a smaller, well-defined geographic area. And these ads won't be going just to PCs, but to mobile devices, in-car computers, and screens at gas pumps, among other platforms.
He sees the payment model changing, too. Pay-per-click might be discarded in favor of cost-per-action. That way, the advertiser pays when a prospect clicks on his ad and actually buys something. He also says that the dominance of Google AdWords is being challenged by niche search engines serving specialized markets.
AdWords isn’t for every business, says Jacobson, but “if you’re in a market where people are looking online for your product and services, then you should be using AdWords, because it has the biggest reach. If you want people to see your ads, you should be using Google AdWords.”
Playing around with AdWords and discovering its capabilities when he first encountered it strengthened Jacobson's belief that using AdWords was a powerful way to market on the Internet. The key was—and is— testing: seeing what works and what doesn't, tweaking and changing keywords and content, and then running with the winners. Testing allowed Jacobson to steadily improve the results from his AdWords marketing campaigns.
“Over the course of about 11 months, I went from a 0.7 percent click-through rate, which means seven out of a thousand people were clicking on my ad, to 2.8 percent, which meant I increased my business by four times,” says Jacobson. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just testing this and that, running this ad, changing that word, changing the order, making something capitalized. I didn’t have a huge background in copywriting, and nobody knew what this medium was. We were just playing around. And I found that by sort of random testing and just keeping with the winner, I was able to quadruple my results. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a powerful medium! Imagine if I knew what I was doing.’ So then I set about to really learn it.”
If you are ready to expand your company's reach, add more customers, and add dollars to your bottom line, try incorporating pay-per-click advertising into your multichannel marketing campaigns.