5 Steps to Starting a PPC Campaign the Right Way

pay per clickWhile we are obviously very big believers in using SEO, the fact is that PPC or Pay Per Click is another great way to get traffic to your website, especially when you are just starting out. Eventually, you should be able to switch over to using SEO more and more but at first, this may be a great way to make your mark. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is PPC?

This is for the newbies or those who are not quite certain how this works. For everyone else, feel free to move on to the next section. Pay Per Click is one of four popular methods of advertising on websites. There are others in addition to these four but PPC is one of the big three.

In essence, pay per click means exactly what it sounds like – you pay only for those who actually click your link. This means that in theory, if you ad is displayed 1 million times but only five people click the ad, you end up paying for just five people having clicked the ad. There is no guarantee of course that you’ll make a sale, but it is pretty economical because most people who click are going to be potential customers.

The other three popular ways to buy advertising by the way are:

PPV – Pay Per View. Unlike what you get on cable when you buy a premium movie for 24 hours (or ahem, other kinds of fare not appropriate to talk about here), pay per view in this sense means that you pay for every time someone views you ad. You could for example pay $5 for 5,000 views of your ad on a service like Adfly. The good news – it’s cheap. The bad news – you tend to get fewer clicks and fewer customers. PPC is often more effective.

CPA – Cost Per Action. No, this is not some kind of a physics thing where there is an equal and opposite reaction. Instead, this is the ultimate way to advertise online though also the costliest. This means that you pay a commission for each actual sale someone brings in to your website. The good news – you never pay for people to come by and just “kick the tires.” The bad news – you need to offer much more money per sale to get people to take your ads this way.

Paid Links – Finally, some smaller websites will allow you to purchase or rent a link on the site. Instead of paying per click, you simply pay a monthly fee. Sometimes, you can even get a really sweet deal where you pay once for a permanent link (usually from an article, either one you place or one that’s already there).

One word of warning though – any site based in the US will need to have a disclaimer somewhere stating that they have been paid for accepting this link. It’s a requirement of the FCC. Actually, pretty much any kind of advertising requires such a disclaimer these days. It’s usually in the privacy policy though some sites do prefer to explain this in context as well.

Okay, so now that we know what PPC is, let’s talk about how to make it work for you:

Do Your Researchdoing research

Before you start doing anything else, you absolutely positively must do plenty of research. You need to know what your potential customers want to buy and why they would want to buy it. Here are three areas of research to figure out:

What You Hope to Achieve

First and foremost, you need to set realistic goals for your new PPC adventure. Selling $1 million of product when you have an advertising budget of $100 is probably not realistic for example. On the other hand, it may be realistic to spend $100 and hope for at least 20 new leads.

Mind you, when I say leads, I don’t mean customers. I mean people who may buy your product. These are people who may sign up for a free offer or request more information. They are not necessarily people who will buy right away.

Finally, what do you want people to do when they get to your website? Are you looking for people to actually make a purchase or merely sign up for a free offer? Do you want them to ask for more information? Tell a friend? Figure these things out and what it’s worth to you for people to do them and you can make a realistic budget based on that.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

If you run a website selling ringtones, the odds are good that your target audience is not going to be octogenarians. However, you need to know much more than that in order to properly target your campaign. You need to know as much about your target audience as possible. For example, you need to know:

Where do they live? If you are selling your services as a US tax attorney, you probably don’t need to target visitors coming from India.

Why do they need my services? If you can’t answer this question yourself then your target audience certainly won’t be able to.

Why would someone click my link? If you are targeting hemorrhoid sufferers, your customers will have a different reason for clicking your link (i.e. they are in pain) than if you are selling Caribbean cruises (i.e. they desperately need to get away from it all or they are looking for romance, etc.).

What are appropriate keywords to use?

Sure you could advertise using the term “make money online.” The problem is, it’s so incredibly expensive to advertise using that term that it rarely makes sense to buy PPC advertising for it. Instead, you need to do (or have done for you) quality keyword research which will let you know exactly which keywords to target for your particular audience. You want to be able to make money with your campaign after all – not lose money.

Be Highly Focused

You need quality copywriting in order to make money using a PPC campaign. Whether you are doing a graphical image or you are using text based links, you will have to create a campaign which is focused and which actually gets people to want to buy your product.

This means that you cannot just hire a content writer from some third world country to write something up for a dollar or two. Copywriting (unlike content writing, though many people get the two confused and use the words interchangeably) means using words to sell a product.

To understand the difference, consider this blog. It is basically a very soft sell for Quantum SEO Lab’s services. I generally don’t push our services heavily here (I’m not paid to do that) and instead try to simply offer useful insights into SEO. The idea is that when you see that we understand how to make money online, you will be more likely to hire us for your needs.

By comparison, if you want a successful PPC campaign, you would want small, tightly crafted ads which convey powerfully why you would want to hire that company. Here’s a quick example:

They said it couldn’t be done but we proved them wrong! First page of Google in less than 30 days or your money back!

Full disclaimer: This is NOT an official ad for Quantum SEO Labs and we do NOT offer such a guarantee. In fact, anyone who does offer such a guarantee is either insane or lying. There is no way to guarantee Google page one without any doubt.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the above line is very compelling and it’s very focused. It doesn’t go off and tell you how many links will be built. It doesn’t try to tell you how important it is to be on the first page of Google. It doesn’t even tell you what the service would cost.

All this ad does is focus on one thing and one thing alone – the idea that you could get the kind of rankings you need in a short time if you sign up with this imaginary SEO company (which will either quickly go broke or garner lots of complaints for fraud. Mind you, it is possible to get to page 1 in 30 days or less but nobody in their right mind would make a guarantee that it will always happen).

You Need a Great Squeeze Page

I’ve written about this in the past. A squeeze page is the page you use to sell your wares and you need a good one. The fact is that when people click on your link, they will be taken to a specific page on your website.

It would be stupid and patently wasteful to send them to say the front page of your blog (unless your only goal is to get traffic to your blog). The problem is, most people who click your ad will stick around for about 10 seconds before they get bored and go elsewhere. This means that you have around 10 seconds to grab their attention and keep them on your site.

Some elements of a good squeeze page are (and again, I put up a longer post on this subject a short while ago. Just click the link:

  • Loads quickly – If your customers are waiting for more than a couple of seconds for the page to load, they will leave.
  • Doesn’t lose focus—Again, your goal here is to sell one product, not hundreds. Don’t confuse your buyers with all kinds of options.
  • Looks clean—If you provide a squeeze page that looks cluttered, people will lose focus and they won’t stick around.
  • Gets to the point—Don’t tell us your whole life story. Nobody really cares (unless you are selling your memoir). Get to the point of why your product is the greatest thing since sliced bread and the customer would be crazy not to buy it now.
  • Has a call to action—Seriously, I don’t understand why people forget this sometimes. Yes, people need to see the “call now,” “buy now” button or whatever it is.

Do Your Homework

I know – you probably thought homework was a thing of the past when you left high school or college. However, the fact remains that homework is almost always part of the job when you run your own business. In this case, by homework, I mean that you have to take the time to pour over the statistics of who clicked your ad, how long they looked and why they looked.

Here’s a great example of what I mean: I read an article a while back about some social dating site (I forget what it was called). They were focused primarily on attracting young singles in the New York City area and had spent most of their time focusing on that demographic. They’d run parties and advertising throughout the city.

While studying their analytics, the owners of this social dating site noticed something kind of odd – they were getting an awful lot of people visiting the site from Pakistan (I think it was Pakistan. It may have been another country but the salient point is that they had a lot of traffic which was not in their prime demographic area).

At first, they ignored this statistic and kept focusing on New York City. However, after a while, they had an “aha” moment and realized that if they were getting lots of traffic from Pakistan then maybe they should focus some energy on that. At the time I read the article (this was around 2-3 years ago and the name of the site escapes me), they were one of the leading sites in Pakistan (or wherever it was) and they were making money hand over fist from it.

The bottom line here is that once your campaign is active, you need to closely study who is coming to visit your website and why they are coming. Then, you can hone the advertising to either target more of the same or to target a different demographic if that’s who you want to target.

Keep an Eye On the Moneykeep an eye on the money

Finally, it is very easy to get sucked into the excitement of a PPC campaign and to spend more money than you actually have in your budget. Keep a close eye on the money and make sure that you are not wasting it by pouring thousands of dollars into an advertising campaign which is not paying off.

You need to keep close track and figure out how much each new customer is costing you to acquire. If it costs you $20 to acquire each new customer but on average you are making just $10 over the life of a new customer then you need to either stop using PPC or find a way to fine tune it more so that you are making more than you are spending.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that PPC is a great way to get plenty of extra traffic to your website. People really will click your links and you really will make plenty of money. However, if you do it the wrong way, you can end up wasting a great deal of money and not get much in return.