Be Sure You Choose The Right Pay-Per-Click Model Before You Start

There can be no good commerce without proper marketing. Marketing campaigns are a must for businesses wishing to boost their sales. Online marketing has become more and more a distinctive and important aspect in the development and evolution of any company, big or small, which aims at reaching a specific range of potential customers.

With the emergence of Google’s AdWords service, online marketing has changed. It is now possible to target potential customers more accurately than ever, taking into account that Web search is the second most used online application after e-mail.

Too many people confuse marketing with advertising. They are not the same thing. You can market your business without advertising and advertising is not necessarily marketing, though it can be. Example: If you purchase a newspaper ad that promotes a one-time event in your store the day before the event happens and you run that ad in one local newspaper the day before your event, that isn’t really marketing. It is advertising. It may or may not be effective.

Marketing is a long-term process that involves strategic planning and tactical moves to help you achieve your goals. Advertising can be – and often is – sporadic, although the best advertising is far from sporadic. Effective advertising is itself strategic, but don’t confuse it with marketing.

With regard to Google AdWords, not every company will benefit from an AdWords campaign, but many will. It can pay big dividends if you do it right.

What is AdWords?

AdWords is Google’s tool, meant to help you advertise your business. It can be used to create simple, yet effective ads that will be displayed to people performing online searches for information related to businesses such as yours. Basically, a Google AdWords campaign is one way of doing online keyword-based advertising.

At the core of any pay-per-click campaign lays the commercial links (the ads) associated to keywords, displayed on the right side of the result page when a Google search is performed. What Google offers is actually placing certain Web sites on top of all the results for a specific search (i.e. keywords). Against a fee, naturally. These sites are placed systematically on the right side of the result screen and marked as “commercial links” so that the user is not mislead, since Google’s goal is, above all, to maintain the credibility of its search engine.

Google AdWords is not the only online advertising tool and it’s not the only pay-per-click advertising tool. It is the most popular, mainly because Google is the most used search engine. It may not be the best place for your business to advertise. If you run a local hardware store, for instance, and your customers are made up largely of customers who live near your store and use Yahoo to make their searches, then you might benefit more by running a Yahoo pay-per-click campaign.

The AdWords ads are very simple. They come in a variety of formats, amongst which the most common are the text format and the image format. There can also be animated ads, video ads, mobile ads, etc. The text ads usually consist of:

  • An ad title (up to 25 characters, including spaces): must attract users that may have an interest in your products or services
  • Two description lines (up to 35 characters each, including spaces): should be clear and compelling enough to convince the user to visit your site
  • The display URL (up to 35 characters, including spaces): this is where the user will be directed when clicking on the ad.

15 Most Common Errors in an AdWords Campaign

Don’t assume that this is an easy task. It’s not. Remember that Google is a tough nut to crack, but with the right set of tools and a lot of hard work and dedication, it can be done. Therefore, it is good that before creating a pay per click campaign, you have a clearly established goal. According to this goal, begin creating your AdWords campaign.

As with Search Engine Optimization, AdWords campaign management is a must and must be done properly. There are many aspects that can be overlooked. Some of the most common AdWords campaign mistakes come from superficiality or insufficient knowledge about the targeted market and the way the Web works.

Among the worst mistakes being made in such cases are:

  1. Bidding too much in order to be placed on the top position
    Even if this seems like the best choice, being “Number One” in this case is not necessarily the best. Keep in mind that Web users are accustomed to searching, and they usually don’t stop at the first ad. And, since they are first prospecting the market, it is highly possible that you only get an unqualified click. It seems that being no. 3 in paid search is one of the best (i.e. profitable) positions.
  2. No geo-targeting
    Try to relate to the potential customers in your area first. They are more likely to take their business to a local company. Add, for example, the name of the town or of the area where your company is in your ad and the effects will be noticeable.

These two mistakes are biggies. The first one, bidding too much, is almost a no-brainer. Don’t bid any more than you have to in order to get the ROI that you expect. There are a lot of factors to consider in placing your bid. Among them are:

What is your profit margin per item?
What is the competition’s highest bid? (You do know, don’t you?)
Where is your break even point?
What is your keyword?
What is your average cost per click?
Let’s say you sell widgets. Your widgets cost $5.00 each and your cost of product, payroll, etc. brings your total profit down to $1.00 per widget. That’s not a very big profit margin. You don’t want to bid $2.00 per click and realize a sale on every third click. You would be losing money. That’s why profit margin per item and cost per click are important.

Also, make sure you are bidding on the right keyword. Are all of your widgets blue? Maybe you should bid on “blue widgets.” Are they double-headed African widgets? Try bidding on that phrase. The more specific you are and related to your actual product or service the more likely you are to target the right customer.

A good way to find out what the competition is doing is to bid the maximum amount. Google lets you do this. If the highest bid is $2.50 and you bid the max then you will bid $2.51. This lets you know what the competition is doing. After you find this information out, then you want to lower your bid to the right amount for you.

With regard to geo-targeting, every brick and mortar business should do this. If you do business in your own backyard then use your zip code, county name, city, neighborhood and even your state as keywords for your AdWords or pay-per-click campaign. People looking for a hammer will search online for the right hammer then go buy it locally. If you are the guy they find online then guess where they will go to buy the hammer?

  1. Bidding on broad keywords
    Broad keywords are very likely to take your CPC (cost-per-click) to a very high level. Therefore, try to brush the keyword list that you wish to use for your PPC campaign and retain only highly searched-for keywords. Those are worth bidding for.

You don’t have to bid on every keyword. Find the ones that are searched for most often and use those. Throw the others away. When you analyze the performance of your AdWords keywords, look at click throughs and cost per clicks to determine which are the most important keywords for you.

  1. Boring content
    Don’t say what others have already said. Be creative. Be fresh.
  2. Non-relevant landing pages
    Make sure that when the Web user clicks on the URL in the ad, it will take him/her to a relevant page. You don’t want the user to get frustrated by not finding the desired product/service advertised in the ad.

Do your landing pages and ads use the same keywords? They should. If you are promoting black-handled widgets then use that as a key phrase in your ad and point the click through URL to a landing page in your website that uses “black-handled widgets” as the main key phrase. Make sure that is what you are selling on that page.

  1. Directing users only to the home page
    Unless you have a really cool Web site that captivates users and makes them browse through it for endless minutes, they will get frustrated if they have to search throughout the site for what they need. You should send them directly to where they will find what was advertised.
  2. No keywords in the ad text
    Do insert your keywords in the title and description of the ad. Nevertheless, remember to keep an eye on the clarity and relevance of the ad. Visitors must understand exactly what they will get when clicking on it.

Do I need to repeat myself? Keywords are just as important in AdWords as they are on your website. In fact, you can use your AdWords campaign to help you determine the most important keywords to focus on for your website. Which ads are getting the most click throughs? Turn those keywords into profitable keywords on your website.

  1. Not tracking the results
    You should monitor the keywords that you use in your Google AdWords marketing campaigns. The most at-hand tool is Google Analytics, built into the AdWords interface. You should be able to see and rule out the keywords that are not helping you get the desired ROI (return on investment).

This is very important. Track your results. Not just click throughs and cost per clicks, but actual conversion rates. Which keywords are you converting more sales from? By optimizing the right bid for those keywords based on your conversion rate, you can turn your Google AdWords campaign into a profitable machine.

  1. Same bids for the content network
    AdWords gives you the possibility to have two separate campaigns, one for the content network and the other for the search network. You should set different bids for the content network. Otherwise, the CPC will be much higher than anticipated.

Just turn the content network off. Most advertisers don’t need it. Bid on the search network because your ads will appear on the pages that appear when people make a search on Google for the correct keyword. That’s really where you want to be.

  1. Suggesting that what you offer is free
    Don’t try to lure visitors with false statements. All you’ll get is irrelevant traffic and no conversion (or not significant enough).

Oh boy. False advertising will get you in trouble. Besides, it never pays off. If searchers go to your website and don’t see the exact offer you proposed in your ad then you’ll lose them – forever.

  1. Not identifying the uniqueness of your product/service
    Identify what makes you and your product/service unique, what makes you stand out from the large crowd of competitors. Find the keyword(s) that supports this uniqueness.

This should have been the first thing you did when you established your business. Do you have a USP – Unique Selling Proposition? That’s what will distinguish you from your competitors in the market place. Place it in your ad, if possible.

  1. Failure to create multiple ad groups and ad campaigns
    Don’t fall into that trap. Unorganized campaigns will fail to produce the expected results. Group all the single ads that target related keywords. If you’re advertising more than one product/service, it’s best to have the ads grouped by category.
    Also, don’t use just one campaign. Split your ads into separate campaigns. You will be able to see which of them gives you more satisfaction in terms of conversion rate.

Another very important part of any pay-per-click campaign. You can test your ads to see which ones are performing best by running similar ads simultaneously and changing just one thing. The headline, for instance. Write an ad the exact same way twice and give them separate headlines. See which one performs better for you. After a 30 day test, ditch the poorer performing one and keep the one that won out. Every six months or so, test another ad.

  1. Failure to test with more that one ad
    Don’t limit your advertising campaign to just one ad. It may not contain the best keywords. Create more ads and see which one works best.

Great minds think alike.

  1. Not using targeting options for keywords
    Broad matches may or may not improve your conversion rate. But if you use the keyword targeting options, you may notice significant improvements. The targeting options are the square brackets – [blue tulip] – and the quotation marks – “blue tulip”.
    Also, you can use the negative character (minus sign) in order to specify certain keywords for which you don’t want your ads to be shown: -tulip. This will also prevent you from paying for such words. A penny saved is a penny earned, they say.
  2. Not using company/brand name keywords
    Don’t leave out the name of your company or of a brand you’ve created. You wouldn’t want the competition to make profitable use of it, would you?

Yes, targeting options work, but your company name and brand in the ad itself are not as important unless they are recognized brands. If you have a brand name that people would search for then by all means use it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

Advertising through pay-per-click is difficult, but it can pay off. It isn’t for everyone, however. You should take some time to study all the pay-per-click options before you embark upon a pay-per-click campaign. Google may not be right for you. Yahoo or MSN may be a better bett. If so, then you want to be sure to go with the right model for your business.

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