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How To Waste Money on Pay Per Click Advertising

I love pay per click advertising (Wikipedia definition). I’m addicted to setting up campaigns and watching the nearly instant response as users click and convert. I find that its not only a fantastic way to quickly test brand positioning copy, calls to action and specific product offers, but if done right – like all direct response advertising – PPC can generate some pretty darn high quality leads.

But see, there’s a problem. For the unfamiliar, pay per click can be a black hole of budget suck. Its entirely too easy to inadvertently drive unqualified traffic to your website and/or over-pay for the clicks. So, what are some of the biggest no-no’s? Some of the problems we see brands doing the most often are:

Bid on the wrong keywords

If investing in search engine pay per click advertising one of the quicker ways to waste money is to pick the wrong keywords. Many times this comes from the rather good intentioned notion that your customers think – and search – like you do. However there’s a pretty big chance that you’d be wrong.

So how can you avoid this trap? Three quick suggestions:

  • Look at your web analytics (and you do have Google Analytics, or something similar, installed on your website right?). Any modern web analytics platform will display for you the terms that customers are using on search engines to organically find your website. This gives you a great starting point for your PPC keywords.
  • Take advantage of free web services like Google’s Keyword Tool. While not perfect, the tool can offer you suggestions for keywords based on your existing website and/or variations of terms you’ve already identified as important.
  • Ask your customers! More often than not your customers and prospects will be more than happy to tell you how they phrase their needs when using search engines. You just have to ask nicely.

Only use one or two ads

As a PPC advertiser you have the opportunity to lower your cost per click and increase click through rates by testing variations of your advertising copy. In fact, many PPC advertising platforms allow you to have your best performing ads (that is, the ones that have the highest click through rates) display more frequently. However its all too easy to start with one or two ads that you believe are relevant to your target audience and forget to add others. By not adding a wider variety of ads you’re limiting your ability to test and optimize your PPC campaigns – and you’ll end up with a less effective and more expensive campaign because of it.

Have a lot of ads but no structured ad groups / campaigns

Know what’s worse than only having one ad running during a PPC campaign? How about showing irrelevant ads to your target audience? Thankfully PPC providers give you the tools to break up your priority keywords and ads into different campaigns and/or ad groups. Not only does theming give you the opportunity to limit the display of your birthday cake ads to people searching for terms related to “birthday cakes” (for instance), but you can even break up your keywords and ads into different campaigns to vary your strategy on a regional basis, by keywords or even time of day. Pretty cool, huh?

Drive all your clicks to your homepage

While its not inconceivable that your website might be extremely relevant to the specific ad or search term your customer is interested in, if you’re likely many companies than chances are its not. And if you’re directing your “birthday cake” prospects to your corporate homepage there’s a decent shot that you’ve paid for a click from a user who will “bounce” (e.g. only visit one page of your website).

What’s the alternative?

  • Make it a point to always have your pay per click ad direct users to a landing page that is relevant to their search term or the ad that you displayed. (Side note: this also gives you the opportunity down the line to do A/B or multivariate testing to improve your conversion rates).
  • Have a clear call to action that offers true value to your user. For instance, want your customer to purchase an item that they’re interested in? Have a button that says “Buy now.” Or want your user to sign up for your email newsletter? Make sure that its clear what they’re getting out of it (e.g. up to the minute industry news) and how to subscribe.

Don’t test and optimize

Pay per click advertising, whether on search engines, social networks or plain ol’ regular websites, screams for proper testing and optimization. By the nature of the medium you’re only paying when the user actually clicks – so your incentive is to increase the relevancy and “pull” of your ads in order to increase the number of high quality prospects who actually click. To do this well you need to test a variety of offerings, copy, calls-to-action and graphics in order to maximize your return on investment.

In a previous blog post; A Test Driven Model for Marketing Success; we reviewed a basic testing procedure that can help you get started. Also, if you’re testing landing pages and don’t have the need for anything fancy, we’re also fans of Unbounce.

Could you use a helping hand?

If you’d prefer to spend your time on other aspects of your business or simply need some help in creating #winning pay per click advertising campaigns please consider contacting our pay per click advertising experts. We’d love to help in any way we can.

Posted in Pay Per Click