Are you thinking of cashing in on the PPC revolution? Think twice before you decide to go it alone.

I don’t think I’m overstating the fact by claiming that pay-per-click advertising constitutes a marketing revolution. Companies are no longer considering spending part of their annual advertising budget on PPC advertising – they are insisting on it.

As a result, small interactive Web agencies are being snapped up by larger traditional advertising agencies for their expertise in online advertising. Traditional agencies have attempted to cash in on the stampede of ad dollars to the Internet, but they have discovered what interactive agencies have known for a long time: It involves a lot more nose-to-the-grindstone than you’d think. More importantly, it’s completely different from traditional advertising. And in my opinion, way more exciting!

In an age when the effectiveness of TV advertising lies in the hands of whoever has their hands on the remote, and newspaper ads lie abandoned among the muffin crumbs at Starbucks on Sunday morning, PPC ads are right in front of potential customers in the very spot they are most likely to be researching their next purchase. On their computer monitors. Does “in the right place at the right time” get any better than this?

Just as with traditional advertising however, you get “good” online advertising and “bad” online advertising. In the early days of online advertising Search Engines were quick to put a lid on some of the worst advertising practices that the Internet had the potential to deliver, but a lot of the choices are still in the hands of the advertisers. And in many cases, the advertisers are the companies themselves, not their marketing agencies.

Unlike major publications and TV channels that require companies to approach them via their ad agencies, the Search Engines allow anyone with a few bucks and a Web site to implement a PPC campaign. As a result of this many companies are running their own online campaigns. And while any PPC campaign may guarantee an instantaneous presence in the search results, effective results are not part of that guarantee. To maximize results and minimize wasted adspend, campaigns need to be set up by people who are experts in PPC advertising.

Poisar Development (POI) creates effective online advertising campaigns by following the Search Engine’s “best practices” guidelines very closely. In addition to that, we study Search Engine sites daily to ensure we are implementing the most recent practices recommended by Google and Yahoo, as well as taking advantage of the numerous tools they offer to maximize the effectiveness of targeted ad campaigns.

A results-driven PPC campaign should never be approached impulsively. Instead, it must be planned carefully with a well-defined goal and a variety of support elements set in place before the ads are launched.

Here is a basic checklist of essentials for a PPC campaign:

Goal Identification. Company benchmark statistics should be noted, and distinct and realistic goals should be determined at the get-go. I say “company” benchmarks because these are the most important statistics by which to measure the success of a PPC campaign. Aspiring to a competitor’s benchmarks is always a temptation, but due to the variables that exist from one Web site’s marketing efforts to the next, competitor’s benchmarks are seldom relevant. Goals might include achieving a particular lead count per month or increasing sales in predetermined increments.

In-depth keyword research. Keyword research may reveal unexpected results. As the foundation of an online campaign, it is the number one essential task.

Assessment of Competitors. It’s important to know who you’re on the starting block with, and how aggressively they are vying for top positions.

Budget Allocation. Consider the costs of maintaining a strategic PPC campaign alongside the costs of paying for the actual clicks, and allocate a budget accordingly.

Geographical Targeting. Put the dollars where the customers are.

Strategically-written Ad Text. Ad text needs to be written by a writer with good communication skills and the ability to both grab a viewer’s attention and impart a morsel of important information within the 70-character limit imposed by many engines.

Ad Testing. Unlike traditional advertising, online advertising allows ad variation testing without necessarily driving up costs. This enables advertisers to weigh up whether their market responds best to emotional text, factual text, or carrot text.

Landing Page Creation. Landing pages carry a lot of responsibility for their “invisible” spot in a Web site. The landing page is the element that has the greatest capacity to make or break a campaign and should guide a visitor to fulfill the campaign’s goals, not leave them directionless on a simple copy of the home page.

Analytics and Website Monitoring. If you can’t monitor it you can’t manage it. Make sure a sophisticated site-monitoring program is in place before launching a PPC campaign so visitor’s actions can be tracked and analyzed.

Ad Monitoring. PPC ads are highly mobile. An aggressive competitor can leapfrog over your ad at the drop of a penny. Literally. And no ad is an island. It exists within a group of similar search results, and outbidding a major competitor is a move that may cost you in the end. Knowing when to join in the game and when to hold back is a learned skill.

With such a specific checklist at hand, and useful information so freely available on the Internet, it’s no wonder that so many companies decide to go it alone with their PPC advertising.

After all, how hard can it be?

It is not unusual for Poisar Development to be approached by a new client looking for search engine optimization “but not PPC advertising” because they already have a campaign firmly in place. But within minutes of logging into the ad account in question, we find ourselves treading the financial wastelands of a well-intentioned but poorly targeted and sadly neglected PPC campaign.

It’s also not unusual to hear “But it’s working for us. We get leads from Google every week!”

On analysis we discover that nobody really knows whether the leads came from the ads or the natural search results. More shockingly, we discover that for months, sometimes years, the company has been paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a great quantity of unqualified clicks in order to generate 10 leads.

More often than not Poisar Development could have generated more leads-and better leads-and thrown in full time management of their account for the same price.

Effective PPC campaigns are the result of hard work done by experts, and experts are the result of experience. The sort of experience that comes from trial and error, from keeping one’s ear to the ground when the search engines are rumbling, from sharing your experience with others who are doing the same thing, from testing and comparing, from developing intuition, and from doing it every day.

Traditional agencies are not snapping up smaller interactive agencies for no reason at all. They’re doing it because they have realized that search engine marketing is not a tag-on to other marketing services. It is a highly specialized field of marketing in its own right, and people who do it well are thin on the ground.

Poisar Development’s search engine marketing department is a permanent hive of activity. When we’re not actively honing an ad campaign, we’re learning the new stuff that came out yesterday! And we’d love to be doing it for you. You’re more than welcome to call us at (312) 860-9196 and please ask for Andrew. There’s a revolution going on and we’re ready to get you on board with it!

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