Today’s Holiday Shopping Challenge article contains information about PPC, AdWords and paid media. You will learn what is paid media and PPC and be presented with invaluable tips to kick start your digital marketing, PPC and AdWords for the holiday season.
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Simply stated, paid media is when you pay a 3rd party to publish and present ads in front of targeted consumers. These ads can be in format of a text ad (i.e. PPC ads), display ad (i.e. creative banner ads), video ad (i.e. YouTube, pre-roll, etc.), social media (i.e. boosting Facebook posts) or even conventional print, TV and radio ads. For the sake of this article, we will focus on PPC tools and strategies, specifically Google AdWords.
Note: For those that read our owned and earned media article on Monday, one of the primary factors that differentiates paid media from the other types of media is that content (i.e. text ad, banner ad, sponsored post, video) has a finite life cycle, once the ad campaign or subscription is complete the ad content is no longer displayed.
PPC search marketing (or just simply Search Engine Marketing, SEM) is one leg of the paid media component. PPC search marketing, or SEM, involves the creation of an ad account with a search engine to display ads to consumers searching for targeted keywords, in targeted locations at bid prices YOU control. Search engines, like Google, strategically position these ads on their SERP (search engine results page) to entice consumers to click ads and charging the sponsor of the ad each time an ad is clicked. The likes of Google are a for-profit business, after 20 years in the search engine game, they have mastered the art of presenting ads in preferred positions of the SERP to acquire clicks, and hence make more revenue on those clicks. A robust PPC ad strategy is nearly a requirement in 2015 because of the prominence of the ads in the SERPs. It is VERY, VERY, VERY important to understand that the ad sponsor (the business) ONLY pays when a consumer clicks your ad, more on this later.
Over the course of time and countless conversations with small and mid-market business owners, one common request is “Mike, I need to be more visible in search engines.” Professional internet and search marketers need to be careful how they answer this question as it is VERY easy to confuse and lose the interest of your audience. I find it most effective to break this conversation into three sub-conversations;
Who can benefit from PPC ads? What types of businesses can benefit from PPC ads?
Case Study #1: We recently created a digital sales and marketing funnel for a startup company, Xtreme Blasting, that provides “Dustless Blasting” services, an alternative to sandblasting. Upon research into the search market (search demand) for dustless blasting, we found the demand to be negligible, which led to the conclusion that organic SEO would take a LONG time to provide results, results in this case is new business. We carefully crafted a search engine marketing and PPC strategy with a focus on capturing some of the Sandblasting demand with a $300 per month budget, a small budget just to test the waters, in July 2015. By August 2015, the PPC ads have produced in three months over $30,000 worth of business, EASILY exceeding (blowing away) the campaign objectives.
Case Study #2: After 4 years of managing the SEO and website for a law firm, Bo Schimers & Associates, the firm decided to entrust us, 3V, with their already existing PPC and AdWords account on July 1st, 2015. With the understanding that new business from PPC ads was down 50% for the first 6 months of 2015 (year over year), the campaigns were reconfigured and re-optimized in July leading to 100+% increases in new business from PPC for August and September 2015. THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES WERE THE CREATION OF DEDICATED LANDING PAGES WITH CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION FOR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS. LESSON LEARNED: When engaging separate agencies for web, SEO and PPC, those agencies must work in concert, ensuring that when changes are made to pages (or landing pages) that the PPC agency will act (re-act) promptly to those changes.
It is highly recommended that you contact an agency that specializes in PPC. That said, Google has a product called “AdWords Express” that is a simplified and streamlined process of creating accounts, campaigns and ads. My experience with business owners that have tried to go at it themselves and advertise using AdWords Express (or even the full blow AdWords version), is that it is a complete disaster and waste of time and money. In almost ALL of these cases, the experience of that business owner was so bad that it left a permanent, or semi-permanent, negative impression of PPC advertising. At the very least, reach out to someone
With a focus on search engines (as opposed to PPC on social media, which incidentally is really not PPC), this is a simplified set of instructions of how it works.
PPC means Pay-Per-Click – which means exactly that, you are only charged when someone CLICKS your ad. Many people new to PPC do not entirely understand this, but it’s true! In some ways, PPC is FREE advertising in that you can have an unlimited number of impressions and only pay for those that click. With that said, it cannot be overstated the importance of RELEVANT ad copy writing, landing pages and clear call-to-action on the landing page (see images). The whole strategy may be summarized as follows;
PPC Strategy – 1) Capture relevant consumers who are looking for what the products or services that you offer, 2) Capture consumers that are most likely to convert and 3) Engage the consumer with a relevant, attractive, easy to understand, easy to navigate web page and 4) Convert the customer with an easy to find and clear call-to-action!
Alternative Ways to Capture Value from PPC – Below are important points about conversion tracking, which discusses goals and objectives of a PPC campaign. That said, there are additional ways to squeeze value out of PPC campaigns that are not immediately obvious! Tomorrow we will discuss “remarketing” and “retargeting” as alternative PPC strategies to increase your chances of capturing, engaging and converting potential customers. The whole remarketing strategy starts with the conversation that someone that previously visited your website is 70% more likely to be converted into a paying customer than a first time visitor. Remarketed ads are ads that “follow you around the internet”, these ads are triggerd by an action (i.e. landing on website, abandoning a shopping cart, etc.). These actions need to be added (programmed) into your website, it may sound daunting, complex and expensive BUT it’s not. Amazon does this, WalMart does this and EVERY online retail giant does this, tools in 2015 are available for YOU to take advantage of this strategy, cost effectively and efficiently. Check back tomorrow for more info, or click below if you are interested in learning more about remarketing from 3V.
Conversion Tracking Challenge – Every PPC account we (3V) have inherited has been missing conversion tracking, or at least a conversion tracking strategy that makes sense (no offense to any other agency, it’s simply a commonly overlooked part of robust PPC). The challenge is how to track, capture, manage and consumer actions once they have clicked your ad. Obviously, a PPC effort has a goal or objective, but can a business owner answer (or find the answer) to determine how effective the campaign(s) are in terms of measuring against the goals and objectives?
Conversion Tracking Solution – Unfortunately, conversion tracking is fairly complex and typically something that a moderately knowledgeable business owner is not able to set up on their own. A conversion tracking solution starts with goals and objectives, typical goals might be;
Once a goal is set, then the proper mechanisms (typically a script or other programmatic feature) must be added to your website to capture when an event occurs, an event could be a phone call or a form submission. At this point, Google allows you to actually assign a value to the action (i.e. if a consumer selects a click-to-call button, you may assign a value of $[x] to that action). $[x] must ALWAYS be worth at least as much as you paid for that click.
Case Study: If you own a law firm and you can buy qualified leads for consumers looking for a divorce attorney $100 per lead (a typical fee) from a third party and you convert 1 out of 10 of those leads with an average of conversion value of $2000 (average client fee for a divorce), you have earned an ROI of 100%, [Return on Investment] – [Investment] / [Investment] or $2000 – $1000 / $1000. Using PPC, in that same scenario you may expect to pay $25 per click, if you can convert 1 out of 10 of those leads with an average conversion of $2000, you have increased your ROI (via conversion tracking) to 700%.
Reporting Challenge – It is ABSOLUTELY essential to have a reporting platform that can sift through your aggregate website traffic data and help you make informed business decisions. Poor management of reporting will inevitably lead to data in which you will not be able to report SEO (organic), PPC and social media traffic independently, which is your worst nightmare (trust me). In the world of PPC, the people responsible for running campaigns need to be both reactive and proactive in adjusting campaigns. Identifying opportunity and eliminating waste in a timely manner is CRITICAL to the success of any PPC campaign, and properly managed reporting is one essential element of finding opportunity and eliminating waste.
Recommended Reporting Solution – I keep referring to Google, as if they are the only search engine in the world (which is clearly not the case) however since; 1) Google owns nearly 70% of the market and 2) Google is clearly recognized as THE leader in search engine marketing; we recommend a Google based solution. The solution STARTS with integrating Google Analytics (Universal version), Google AdWords and Google Webmaster.
The advantage of connecting AdWords and Analytics is to 1) have seamless integration of PPC/AdWords data into your web traffic reporting, 2) advanced Analytics and AdWords users (i.e. agencies) may configure conversion and ROI metrics and reporting, click here for info on connecting AdWords and Analytics.
The advantage of connecting AdWords and Webmaster is to 1) have side-by-side SEO (organic) and AdWords/PPC (paid) website traffic data, 2) be able to be both reactive and proactive to changes in consumer search demand, click here for info on connecting AdWords and Webmaster.
Call Tracking Challenge – In every case where a company is leveraging multiple digital marketing channels, inevitably inbound leads from phone calls are impossible to track without a proper call tracking solution. We ask the business owner if they track referral source, most do track the referral source but ultimately the problem is when you ask a potential new customer, “How did you hear about us?” and they answer “A Google Search“, we have NO clue if that means SEO (organic, non-paid) or Adwords (PPC, paid ad). I refer to this challenge in my conversation as the “Call TrackingBlack Hole”.
Recommended Call Tracking Solution – Our recommend call tracking solution is CallTrackingMetrics. The solution is fairly simple to subscribe, install and configure (business owners with moderate knowledge of web development and marketing can accomplish this however we recommend working with a reputable ad agency). The biggest advantage to this service is the ability to display different forwarding numbers on your website depending on how the consumer reached your website. The data and reporting is incredibly valuable and within 1-2 weeks you should be able to immediately have enough intelligence (from the data and reporting) to start making more informed decisions with your ad spend.
Learn more about the TRIFECTA OF DIGITAL MARKETING (Paid, Owned and Earned Media), return to our blog everyday this week and continue to learn how to leverage your paid, owned and earned media together to build a killer digital marketing funnel for the holiday shopping season!