Yes, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has an immediate cost associated with it. And if you do it wrong, it could mean thousands of dollars wasted.
However, if you do it correctly, the rewards are plentiful.
You can set up an AdWords account in five minutes and start seeing results immediately. Best of all, if your ad isn’t working, you can replace it with something new.
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, or even cities.
And 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 a pay-per-click advertising campaign, understand that it all starts with that tiny little ad.
Writing a Pay-Per-Click Ad That Works
Pay-per-click ads 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 use a URL that describes your product. If your website sells discontinued dishware, for example, your URL could be something like ReplacementChina.com or DiscontinuedDishes.com.
The body of your 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. A headline like “Designer China Rip-Offs” or “Is Your Dishware Safe?” can convince your prospect to click on your ad.
Brainstorming headlines is worth the time you invest in doing it, because a good headline can double or even triple your response rate. Start by taking 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.
Here are six more 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 in bold type.
2. Offer something free or promote a sale. Everyone likes free stuff and bargains.
3. Use symbols or odd punctuation. This can catch a searcher’s eye and make them click your ad over your competitors’ ads.
4. Specificity helps. “127 Ways to Boost Your Bottom Line” is better than “How to Boost Your Bottom Line.”
5. Point out the uniqueness of your product. Every good product has qualities that make it stand out from the competition.
6. Make your offer urgent. Giving prospects a reason to reply now rather than later will increase response rates.
Test like crazy to find out what works best. And when you use Google AdWords, you can let Google rotate several versions of your ads and then optimize the best ones for the best results.
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.
“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. 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. And it didn’t take long for Google AdWords to push Overture out of the top spot.
“With AdWords,” says Jacobson, “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.”
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.
Another innovative use for AdWords, says Jacobson, is to help design a website. The key, again, is testing. You create identical ads and send half of your 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 sees 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 (where the advertiser pays when a prospect clicks on his ad and actually buys something).
And he notes that the dominance of Google AdWords is being challenged by niche search engines serving specialized markets.
Experimenting with AdWords when he first discovered it and learning what it was capable of strengthened Jacobson’s belief that this was the way to market on the Internet. From the beginning, it was all about the testing:
“Over the course of about 11 months, I went from a 0.7 percent click-through rate, which means seven out of 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.”
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.”
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 multi-channel marketing campaigns.[Ed. Note: As MaryEllen Tribby just explained, pay-per-click ads can play a key role in your business’s marketing strategy. And it’s one of the techniques covered in detail in “The Google Surge!” — a special bonus report from our recently launched China Wholesale Trader.
With this program, you’ll learn how to find manufacturers and wholesalers in China that will provide you with products for pennies on the dollar. You then sell them online at a huge mark-up! Find out more about it here.
MaryEllen Tribby, ETR’s former publisher and CEO, followed her lifelong dream and started a new company, Working Moms Only, to help women balance work and family life. Keep an eye out for her columns in ETR on the challenges facing working moms, on marketing, business building, and more. And check out the Working Moms Only website and sign up for her free e-letter, here.]