Delivering What Your Prospects Want
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 1 – Introduction To PPC first.
This is the second module in the PPC marketing tutorial series in which we are going to move away from the mechanics of ‘Pay per Click’ to start looking at how you utilize this form of online promotion most profitably.
In this tutorial, we are again going to be primarily focusing on AdWords as our PPC program example because as suggested previously, Google are the largest online advertising operation by a long way.
It is also true that of all PPC programs, AdWords is the one that represents the biggest challenge. Consequently, if you can master Google and make money from it, you will be able to do so with any PPC advertising system.
And just in case you’re wondering why AdWords represents such a big challenge, I will start to explain in the next section so that you have a better understanding of what is necessary to work with Google profitably.
Over the past few years, as they have risen inexorably to a position of global online domination, Google have been on a constant mission to improve the whole ‘Google user experience’ for their users.
This has been reflected in the way they have constantly tweaked and modified their main search engine algorithm so that the search results returned to people who use it are becoming increasingly accurate and well targeted with every passing day.
The same applies to their AdWords program. These constant changes have had many noticeable effects over the past few years as far as AdWords advertisers are concerned.
Firstly, it has meant that every so often – and far too regularly for anyone who has built a chunk of their business around AdWords advertising to feel comfortable – Google have rendered one of their famous ‘slaps’ (it last happened in early 2010).
This refers to the fact that every so often, Google change the rules of the AdWords program or shift the emphasis of the existing rules. As a consequence, many hundreds or even thousands of advertisers find that they are in breach of the rules overnight. They get their accounts closed down or suspended and ‘bang!’, a chunk of their business has just gone down the toilet.
Now, it is important to understand that whilst some of these marketers no doubt hold their hands up in aghast when this happens, many of them (perhaps most) should not be completely surprised.
The fact is that of all of the major players in the PPC market, Google have rules that are far tighter than any other leading online advertiser. These rules are in place to ensure that any Internet user who takes advantage of the AdWords system by following one of their adverts enjoys the best quality experience that they can realistically expect.
Many marketers tend to follow the letter of the rules without really following the spirit at the same time. They try to ‘bend’ the rules as far as they possibly can without actually breaking them.
Whilst this is certainly not true of everyone who was subjected to a serious Google slapping recently, there was definitely a significant number of marketers who fell into this category and suffered the consequences as a result.
If you want to do everything you reasonably can to avoid getting your AdWords account ‘slapped’ in the future, the message is simple. You need to give consumers what they want if they follow one of your adverts because by doing this, you essentially give Google what they want as well.
As we run through this tutorial and the next one, there will be specific scenarios where AdWords rules come into play and when they do, what you must remember is this.
Google wants AdWords to provide the best possible experience for potential customers who use their system. In this way, they attract more users which in turn attracts more top-level advertisers and Google are able to make even more profit as a result.
You must therefore focus your AdWords advertising efforts on doing the same as Google by providing potential prospects with the best experience you can. If you do this, then the likelihood of Google jumping on your account and closing it down without warning are reduced almost to zero.
In the first tutorial in this series, I created a ‘demo’ advert to show you how you can use controversy to make an effective, eye-catching advert. This is a tactic that many very successful PPC advertisers use on a regular basis.
However, the fact that these adverts are so widely used because they are effective and despite the fact that they have worked for me, there is no guarantee whatsoever that they will work for you or for anyone else.
Without knowing how you run your business, what products or services you promote and/or supply, your pricing structure, how you have built your advertising ‘funnel’ and so on, it is literally impossible to say that something that works for one person will work for another.
It is therefore imperative, absolutely essential that every advertising campaign you run is tested, tested and then tested again.
It is only by testing and by trying different ideas and variations that you can ever realistically hope to arrive at a ‘best case’ scenario.
No matter how good you think your advertising copy is or how attractive you think the images that your ads feature are, the only people that matter are your prospects and customers. If they disagree, then your ads won’t work irrespective of what you think or do.
Similarly, my experience indicates that different things work better in one niche market than another. Once again, the only way you can know for a fact that one idea or style matches a particular market is by testing whether it does or not.
When talking about testing, it is essential to test every composite part of your advertising ‘funnel’ because nothing should be left to chance.
For instance, marketers who use PPC advertising will create adverts to send traffic to a specific page on their site. So for example, you will have an advert that sends traffic to a landing or sales page on your site.
In this case, you start the process by tracking the ‘click-through’ performance of your advertising. You do this through the AdWords program itself or with any other alternative PPC advertising program that you’re using as they all feature tracking of this nature.
The people who click on your ads will be sent to your web page. On that page, the visitor will be required to take some form of action, whether it is subscribing to your mailing list or buying your product.
You need to know how many visitors take the action you want them to take. In this way, you keep track of your conversion rates and the number of people that come to your page and take the action that you want them to take.
Incidentally, do this whilst you are still in the ‘beta-testing’ phase to ensure that the only place your traffic is coming from is your PPC advertising to ensure that the results are valid.
You might under some circumstances send traffic to a page over which you do not have control – a merchant offer page if you are an affiliate, for example – but as far as possible, it should be to your own page.
For instance, if you are marketing as an affiliate, it might be better to send the visitor to your landing page before subsequently sending them to the merchant offer page.
By doing so, you build your subscriber list and keep track of your conversions although you will undoubtedly lose a few visitors who decide not to subscribe and therefore don’t get as far as the merchant page.
With a tracking system in place, the next thing to do is to start testing as many variables as you can in an effort to improve your advert click-through and landing or sales page conversion rates.
When you are testing your advertising, you can get plenty of feedback about what is working best from your internal PPC program stats. Beyond this however, you should do some additional testing to see whether you can proactively improve your click through rates.
In this case, the easiest form of testing is straightforward A/B testing.
In this situation, you run two almost identical adverts between which there is only one difference. You keep an eye on the results for a reasonable period of time (say 100 clicks on each advert) to establish which one is performing more effectively.
You keep the more effective advert, get rid of the ‘failure’ and replace it with another test option to see how this new one performs against what is now your control advert.
And as a practical aside, any adverts that you test and discard should be kept in a folder for future reference. Otherwise, you will invariably end up testing the same adverts over and over again, which is obviously a waste of both time and your advertising budget.
You also need to test the pages on your site to which you are sending visitors so that you can make improvements here as well.
In terms of testing various different page options, Google offers another tremendous free tool, the Website Optimizer which you can use to test many different options against one another.
As in the earlier example, give each test page sufficient time to return enough meaningful data to establish which of your pages are working best. Once you have a clear impression of which of your pages is the most effective, get rid of those that are falling behind to replace them with a new test batch before repeating the process once again.
If you seriously want to make money using PPC advertising, tracking and testing is critical. If you don’t do it, you are almost certain to lose money in the long run, whereas if you start by tracking and testing from the very beginning, the chances of achieving success and making profits are significantly increased.
Think of it this way to understand why.
Say your PPC campaign drives 100 visitors to your sales page every day at $.50 a click. You have therefore spent $50 on traffic.
If your sales page is not optimized and only converts at 1% as a result, you make one sale which only puts $40 in your pocket. You have therefore made a loss on the day of $10, amounting to a loss of $3650 over the year.
If however you spend time optimizing your sales page and only push the conversion rate to 2%, two sales generates $80 which amounts to a profit of $30 a day.
Now, instead of a $3650 loss, you have a $3000 profit from nothing more than optimizing your sales page. There is no increase in traffic numbers but optimizing the page has taken you from a loss situation to profit almost overnight.
One sad (or maybe just annoying) fact about all forms of Internet marketing is that no matter how hard you try, you do not get it right all the time.
You can do in-depth research that keeps you up every night of the week spending massive amounts of time (which is the direct equivalent of money) on analyzing markets to make sure that you are 100% certain that your campaign is a success and it still lets you down.
This is just as true of marketing using ‘Pay per Click’ advertising as it is with any other form of online promotion. No matter how much time and effort you sink into making sure that your latest campaign is going to be a winner, there is no way that every one of those campaigns is going to be profitable.
As a general rule of thumb, most experienced PPC marketers reckon that out of every 10 campaigns they launch – more often than not, we’re talking about using PPC in conjunction with affiliate marketing here – two or maybe three will be successful, one or two will break even but the majority will bomb for some reason or other.
Whilst I’m sad to be the bringer of bad news, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that you are likely to be the exception to this rule. No matter how hard you work researching the market and building your PPC-driven marketing funnel, 5, 6 or maybe even 7 out of every 10 campaigns you launch is not going to make any money.
Nevertheless, even if only 2 or 3 out of every 10 campaigns driving targeted prospects to an offer page are successful, this is still an extremely profitable business model as long as you follow one central, golden rule.
You need to cut the unsuccessful campaigns as quickly as possible whilst allowing those that are making money to run as long as they keep bringing in the cash.
Moreover, what you also do is transfer the resources (in terms of both time and money) that would otherwise have been focused on promoting the campaigns that you have just dropped to the successful campaigns so that they can be scaled up without the need to spend any more money overall.
This is why I referred to the concept of ‘beta-testing earlier’.
If you run two or three different adverts and allow each to pull 100 clicks and you are seeing some decent traction from one ad, then whilst two of your ads appear to be poor, the campaign itself might not be.
If however all three ads are a total waste of time, then you have either got your copywriting tragically wrong right across the board or you have a product offer that no one is particularly interested in.
In this case, I would try to make one or two of the ads as ‘sexy’ as possible and then give these ads plus the original ‘boring’ ad another run to see whether there is any marked improvement.
If not, then your lack of success is probably more to do with the product than with the advertising and you might be best served dropping it before it costs you any more money.
However, as stated, as soon as you have a clear, surefire winner on your hands, you should direct as much or as many of your resources in the direction of that PPC campaign as you possibly can.
Let the campaign run for as long you profitably can whilst scaling it up to maximize your overall profit margins. This is undoubtedly the best way of structuring your advertising-based promotional activities.
I mentioned earlier that if you want to keep Google happy, your primary objective should be to keep your prospects happy because if you do so, this will also keep the ‘Big G’ happy as well.
Before you launch any advertising campaign, it is therefore essential to identify exactly who your prospects are and what they really want from a business like yours. If you don’t have this information or don’t know who your prospects are, then it is very difficult to make sure that you give the prospects what they most want, which is not a good way of keeping Google happy.
For example, you saw earlier that if you operate a business which primarily sells products or provides services locally, you can set AdWords to show ads from your local neighborhood.
In this situation, it would almost always make sense to include a telephone number in your AdWords ads as logically speaking, a local would be far more comfortable calling you on the phone than having to send e-mail and wait for a response.
The AdWords system even has the ability to automatically show the telephone number of your nearest business location if you have several offices spread throughout the state or even all over the country.
This is particularly effective marketing because one thing that always prompts people to respond to online advertising in a positive way is if the advertising ‘speaks’ to them more ‘personally’ than it does to the general Internet user.
For example, if an Internet searcher who is in Miami sees your ad with a Miami number attached, the chances are pretty high that they will call your office if you provide the services they need.
This idea of ‘speaking’ to prospects in a ‘voice’ that they can relate to is a very important one because it comes back to the old (and extremely effective) sales tactic of ‘match and mirror’.
By creating advertising materials that ‘speak’ in a ‘language’ that your prospects understand, they automatically begin to see you as being someone like them and people are always happiest doing business with people who are like them.
Similarly, when a prospect sees your advert and thinks that it might offer them what they are looking for, it is the wording of your advert that makes them believe this.
Consequently, the page that they are taken to after they click on the ad should use the same terminology and style of ‘speaking’ as that used in the advert as this enhances the quality of the ‘visit experience’ and matches their expectations.
Furthermore, the content on the page to which the advert redirects them should match what they would have expected to find when reading the advert.
For instance, if the advert headline shouts about a possible ‘LA Weight Loss Scam’, your page must mention this phrase several times whilst either confirming that the weight loss product in question is a scam and why you believe this is the case or that it is not a scam with reasons for adopting this position included as well.
Whether you suggest that it is a scam or not is irrelevant. What matters is that your visitor expected information about the LA weight loss plan and this is what they got, one way or another.
As long as this is the case, then the fact that you point out one or two drawbacks of this particular plan before recommending an alternative is not likely to upset Google either. You are after all only presenting your arguments in favor of your own product after giving the prospect what they expected when they came to your site.
If however the only information they find on your page when they initially arrive is a screaming advert for an Acai Berry weight loss product with not a mention of the LA weight loss program in sight, then Google are likely to take a very dim view of your activities. This could cost you in more ways than you might at first imagine.
It’s all about making the experience for your prospect as seamless, informative and satisfying as possible.
If you do this, you’re well on your way to providing your prospects with what Google wants them to experience from dealing with your business, and keeping Google happy is always a good idea.
However, Google do have considerably more specific requirements that we will look at in the first section of the third and final tutorial in this PPC advertising series.
In this module, we have moved beyond looking at the ‘nuts and bolts’ mechanics of setting up an AdWords advertising campaign to provide an insight into some of the less familiar or widely known aspects of successful advertising with AdWords.
In the last module of the series – Optimizing Your Campaigns, we will expand on this concept further.