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Google AdWords trades on its very large and growing network, including Google and AOL, and on its unique ranking system means that ads can gain in position without necessarily increasing the Pay Per Click or by having a high click-through rate. Google Ad Words has precise requirements for ad placement, as well as a thorough editorial review process and fraud detection process. While AdWords's requirements may seem to make ad creation challenging, you can make unlimited changes free of charge, and it costs only $5 to open an account, and bid minimum is 5 cents. The huge network, low set-up costs, the support of a range of keyword types, and the other support and advertising tools offered by AdWords may make it worth it to you to learn the system's specific requirements. Don't forget to look at their PPC analysis tools as well because they will help you manage your campaigns more effectively.
Overture is a Pay Per Click Search Engine that reaches more than 80% of active Internet users. Overture's distribution partners include MSN, Yahoo!, Lycos, AltaVista, InfoSpace, Netscape, CNET and NetZero. Overture requires a minimum deposit of $50 to open an account, and each account has a $20 minimum spend per month. Bids for keyword listings start at 10 cents. Overture offers a straightforward auction style, a large distribution network that includes Yahoo!, as well as a distribution network for non-search engine advertising. Overture also lets clients place different bids based on partner and syndication ad space, smart matching, and auto bidding. To help clients craft, manage and track PPC campaigns, Overture shows live rankings for each keyword bid, features a sophisticated keyword suggestion tool, and provides click fraud detection. The ten-cent minimum bid and the minimum monthly spend may limit your ability to truly define and rein in your PPC spending.
Product Pay Per Click engines enable advertisers to provide "feeds" of their product databases. When web users search for a specific product, the engine returns a list of links to advertisers of that particular product. The engines rank these companies based on who pays what, but also let users sort the list by product price. Leading Product PPC engines (also called Product Comparison Engines or Price Comparison Engines) include BizRate, NexTag, Pricewatch, and Google's Froogle. Similarly, Service PPC engines rank advertisers' service databases, and include NexTag and TripAdvisor. If you have deals on your products services, or regularly have lower prices, these other PPC engines can help you drive more visitors who will purchase your product to your site.
When you spend money on PPC advertising, you want those ads to focus the visitor in on the product, service or content you mean for them to see. When choosing the URL path for each keyword, remember that it is best to direct the user directly to the product they seek. For example, if you sell "bamboo toothpicks", and the keyword you are bidding is "bamboo toothpicks," you should direct users clicking on your "bamboo toothpicks" ad to the "bamboo toothpicks" portion of your web site, rather than to the homepage or – worse – the “paper napkins” page. A direct route from your ad to your product will sell more products and yield a better return on your PPC marketing investment.
Remember that once a Google AdWords approves and advertisement, that ad is syndicated on partner sites, such as AOL. If you modify an ad, it is considered a new ad and must be approved once again by the Google AdWords office. While this process is taking place, your ad will not be listed on partner sites. Moreover, the approved modified ad will be treated as a new ad, so the ad history will be deleted. Avoid needing to modify ads by crafting and editing them carefully. If you want to add new information to an advertisement, create a new ad to run in tandem with the original ad. If your ad has become obsolete for some reason, pause or delete it altogether.
There are several reasons you may decide to delete a keyword. It could have proven to be an ineffective keyword based on PPC campaign performance, it might be disabled, or you just may want to move the keyword elsewhere. If you need to delete a keyword, you must take care to delete every instance of the keyword in your ad account! To make sure you accomplish this, search each of your ad groups – including deleted groups - for this keyword. If you find the keyword, edit the keyword list and remove the keyword, and be sure to save the changes.
Enhance Interactive (formerly ah-ha.com) offers paid listings, paid inclusion, banners and other contextual ads, and processes more than 1.5 billion search queries per month. Enhance's distribution network includes Excite, MSN and NetZero. Enhance requires $50 to open an account, and bids for keyword listings start at 3 cents. Enhance's logo link features, banner ads and low bid prices are great features, but their lack of a marquis distribution partner mitigate their impact, as will the fact that some of Enhance's keywords have been known to receive lower-quality visitors.
When your company launches a new product or site, or wants to share intellectual capital, write an article and distribute it to magazines, newsletters, web sites and other media that are likely to be interested in it. If you can, tailor the release to meet the needs of different audiences – for example, you might provide more detailed company information to investors and more detailed product information to customers. Be sure to include your company's URL and contact information in the press release. Keep track of when and to whom you release this kind of information, and use your analyze your web site traffic in the following days and weeks to see if there is a noticeable increase in traffic, and from where. This information can confirm your choices of distribution or inform you that you need to re-think your press release strategy.
In addition to directing the user to from your ad or keyword to a relevant page, that landing page should make the next step obvious and accessible to the visitor. Use the landing page to provide general product information, since many users seek information prior to purchase, as well as your price for that product. Also, use your landing page to convert a visitor to a customer: for example, feature a one-click add-to-cart option on a product site, or include an e-mail capture or other “Contact Us” option if your focus is more services-based or likely to generate customer enquiries. Finally, you should always be performing content testing for your landing pages as even the most incremental changes can mean big profits for you or your company.
The PPC campaign is a tool to increase your traffic and – in the long run – your site's profitability! Start small, and do not overextend your resources. Increasing traffic at the expense of your content, design and other business operations will only undermine your site's success. If you are unsure what you should pay per click to acquire a new customer, advertising services, SEO experts and web tracking tools companies can help you. Depending on which expert you choose, you will be better equipped to design your campaign and budget appropriately.
The most successful advertising is word-of-mouth, right? Jupiter communications estimates that over one quarter of Internet sales in 2005 will have originated at affiliated sites. Affiliate programs provide incentives for visitors or complementary companies to recommend your company's products and services to others. Such incentives could be cash, referral fees, or even discount arrangements. Include information about your affiliate program on your web site. You will need site traffic analysis tools to track affiliate referrals so you can appropriately compensate your affiliates.
Search 123 distributes advertisements to Juno and NetZero. They require $50 to open an account, and bids for keyword listings start at 5 cents. Search 123's major selling point for some customers is that there is no editorial review process, and, therefore, no time between submitting an ad and having it listed. Search123 may not appeal to customers seeking ad advice and review, and the initial minimum deposit is on the higher end amongst competitors.
Google AdWords allows you to create multiple ads for each keyword group, and you should use this functionality to try different ads. Google suggests that the number of ads you create per keyword be based on the scope of the keyword – more for “broad” keywords, fewer for “niche” keywords. For broad keywords, starting about a half dozen different ads, and consider trying about three different landing pages. This will help you to see how your web site converts visitors based on landing pages. For direct keywords – or keywords that relate directly to a product - try between 4 and 6 ads per keyword group, and at least two landing pages. For direct keywords, these are usually the actual product page or a FAQ page about the product. For niche keywords, Google suggests 2-3 ads, and 1-2 landing pages. Because very focused keywords take longer than broad and direct keywords to amass a statistically significant number of impressions, too many ads and landing pages may slow the data collection and undermine your ability to understand the click through and conversion rates for these ads. Of course, you must perform thorough ppc campaign tracking for each of these so that you can compare their results.
There is one very basic reason not to search for or click on your own keywords: you will be wasting your own money! Your Pay Per Click campaign effectiveness is measured by click through rate, and if you search for a keyword a lot of times, you will deflate its click through rate unless you click on it. Also, if you click on your own ad, you will be charged. Therefore, it is best to rely on advertising services and your own web site tracking tools to see how your ad is doing. Also, ad services have sophisticated technology to block multiple clicks, so do not assume that you can search for and click on your own ad to improve its rating – in the end, you'll only waste your budget.
FindWhat.com features a strong distribution network that includes Dogpile, Excite, o2Net, MetaCrawler, NBCi, Search.com (CNET), and Webcrawler. FindWhat.com requires a $25 deposit to open an account, and keyword listing bids start at 5 cents. FindWhat.com is growing quickly, and has so far had low overall bids. Its Account Management center is easy to understand and navigate, and receives strong reviews for customer service. Being a relatively young Pay Per Click Search Engine, however, FindWhat.com has no large distribution partner and has had slow review times for new keywords.
Due to Overture's expansive reach, it is important to have a considered strategy for your campaign, including what specific goals you have for your Pay Per Click campaign with Overture. Because you will be dealing with very limited space and because Overture gives heavy preference to ad titles that include the searched-on keyword, you should select and target keywords carefully. You probably want to generate a high click-through rate and build your brand, but that will be a challenge for most companies – excepting household names – in the 40 characters that your title is limited to by Overture. If your main concern is visitors, focus on putting keywords and a call to action in your title. If your main concern is increasing your visibility, go ahead and put your company name and those details in your title. There is no “right” answer to this question, but it is a major decision that should be driven by the business goals that your company has set for your web site. With these as your guiding principles, you will be able to create a targeted Overture Pay Per Click campaign that supports your general marketing efforts.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|