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Pay-Per-Click Strategies
Search on the Internet has grown to where it is today largely due to contributions to the community from companies such as ours. Yes, we're all in business, but the sharing of information is important to the search community. Educated advertisers make for better client. Even if you do not work with us, as a better informed advertiser, you help bring stability to search and help avoid some of the insanity that we've seen in online advertising over the last ten years!


Strategies for Major Accounts       (Mid-Sized and Small Accounts are Discussed Below)
Major accounts spend between $100,000 and $5,000,000 per month on search. These companies tend to be sophisticated in their marketing efforts. Whether they have the expertise to manage paid search, however, is a separate issue and many outsource to drive more revenue, increase their customer base, and save on waste associated with underperforming keywords.

Our top five tips for Major Advertisers on Search:
  1. Track Your Results: too many companies treat search like an offline branding campaign and do not track results. Even if the goal is branding, track everything: how many pages are being viewed? Are sales being made? Are people signing up for my newsletter? You need to track everything to the keyword level. Anything less does not give you an accurate view of your campaign.
  2. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize: assuming you are tracking at the keyword level, you need to optimize at the keyword level. Sure, branding managers talk about exposure, but since you cannot track the exact future behavior of a branding campaign, all things being equal, why not put more dollars into the keywords that do produce trackable actions? Optimize your budget at the keyword level and put it where it performs best. Watch everything every day to see what is working, what your competition is doing, and react accordingly.
  3. Start Low and Test Up: too many companies treat search like a branding campaign and focus on being "on top". While you will want to dominate the top on your brand, you do not need to do it on every keyword. On generic and industry keywords, start lower and bid up the winners; you do not need to start high and push down the losers.
  4. Improve Your Copy: too many companies have horrible copy (titles and descriptions) that show up in search listings. Explain what you are offering in the ad and you may get more targeted visitors.
  5. Watch Your Competition Closely: is there a cycle to how they bid? What they bid on? It may give you insight, not only into how you can improve your search campaign, but into the inner workings of your competitors business itself.
Strategies for Mid-Sized Accounts
Mid-sized accounts spend between $10,000 and $100,000 per month on search. They make up a good portion of the ad revenue that the search engines see. These tend to be sophisticated advertisers who understand the concept of a media budget (small business have difficulty with this concept). They understand it takes money to make money, and they want it accountable.

Our top five tips for Mid-Sized Advertisers on Search:
  1. Track Everything: Like large advertisers, mid-sized companies often fail to track user behavior. What are they doing on your site? Attach value to every action, including page views. Attach more value to particular pages on your site. You will quickly attribute value to keywords that drive visitors who view many pages and return often vs. visitors who click on your home page and leave. If you aren't tracking, how are you going to know what is working?
  2. Spend Your Budget Wisely: Most companies do not want to spend all of the money that Google would like them to spend on search. Suppose Google's tools recommend spending $500 a day and you want to spend $100 per day. You must determine the best way to spend it so as to maximize your results. Hint: simply opening the valve and raising budgets is usually not the best way.
  3. Optimize Everything: optimize your keywords, adgroups, creatives, campaign structure, budgets, landing pages and creative messages. Each has an impact on the campaign. Make sure you do not ignore one piece of the puzzle in favor of the others.
  4. Test Up: like large advertisers, we recommend that you test up when building, rebuilding or optimizing your camapign. Don't rack up bigger losses to find out what doesn't work! Minimize your downside and put more money into the keywords that perform best.
  5. Review Your Ad Copy: look at the ad copy of both you and your competitors. Does it inspire you to click? Should it? Yes, you want traffic, but you want quality traffic. Design copy that targets the best leads for you.
Strategies for Small Search Advertisers
These accounts spend $1,000 to $10,000 per month on search. Very often the owner of the company is managing the campaign himself or herself, and feels pain with every click that does not generate business. These are often the most difficult types of accounts to manage because the campaign is so personal to the person running it, and they cannot objectively manage the campaign.

Our top tips for Smaller Advertisers on Search:
  1. Evaluate Yourself: the biggest reason for failure in search has nothing to do with search. It has to do with the business owner. The business owner cannot detach from the advertising budget. Every dollar wasted is a dollar out of his or her pocket. If you cannot be objective about search and emotionally handle the search roller coaster (a search campaign can fluctuate up or down 30% in a day for no good reason) you need to either learn to control your emotions or have someone else manage the campaign.
  2. Do Not Panic!: We've met with thousand of companies and seen many that have had campaigns live for (gasp) a whole three days, and pulled the plug. They didn't get-rich-quick and freaked out. Expect that some days you will lose money. Expect that in the beginning it will be harder. Expect that you will incur losses while learning the search game. But it is worth a game worth playing. If it wasn't Google's quarterly revenue would not be more than all radio advertising combined in the USA (yes, you read that correctly).
  3. Avoid Top Ranks on the Most Expensive Keywords: the most expensive keywords are usually the highest traffic keywords. Often, however, they do not produce the biggest results. Many advertisers latch on to 20 or 30 keywords and stop there, making their jobs easier. They fail to realize that if they had 5,000 lower cost keywords they may generate a significant volume of sales or leads at a lower cost per sale / cost per lead. These can offset expensive campaigns and reduce overall expenses.
  4. Spend Your Budget Wisely: Most companies do not want to spend all of the money that Google would like them to spend on search. Suppose Google's tools say you can spend $500/day on a campaign and you want to spend $100/day. Design your campaign to get the best value out of that $100.
  5. Optimize at the Keyword Level: too many companies optimize at the account level, simply observing that they spent $20,000 last month and generated $50,000 in value (leads or sales). What they fail to realize is that $10,000 of that $20,000 was wasted on non-converting keywords. If they had optimized at the keyword level they could have saved $10,000 or potentially driven another $50,000 in value by spending the budget smarter. Unless you know what is happening at the keyword level, you cannot do this.
  6. Test Patiently: search takes time to optimize... you need enough clicks on a keyword to determine if it is working well. If you over-bid to rush the process, you are simply overspending to find out which keywords are losers. Test patiently.
  7. Review Everything Throughout the Day: in addition to variations in performance at your site, your keywords are impacting search results. They bid up, they bid down. They run out of budget, they add budget. They add new keywords and drop others. Each of these things impacts you and if you are not tracking and optimizing real time, how do you think you will do?
Hopefully We've Given You Some Inspiration
We trust that you've read all three sections above. If not, go back up and read! Many of the principles apply across the board; it also gives you an idea of the issues your online competitors deal with daily. No one said search is easy. Done right, however, it is extremely valuable to your business and to you.

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