Pay per click is what that got me started in search marketing back in Aug 2004.
Being so new to the field I started reading up whatever article I could find about
PPC, downloaded e-books, played a bit the keyword suggestion tools and the newfound
knowledge about keyword demand, supply, competition, KEI, Ads, Landing pages,
Conversion was fascinating.
It took me a couple of weeks to learn these, prepare a keyword list, write
some ads and launch a google adwords campaign. And the first time I saw the
ad show up for the targeted keyword in the top position among 15 other competitors
that was a great feeling.
But then the next day a good number of keywords which were supposed to be top
performers by analysis I had done, were slowed and disabled by google. That
brought up the discrepancies with the estimation tools be it the overture keyword
suggestion tool, google traffic estimator, KEI calculations and the like.
There was a lesson to learn every time and it was a struggle until that first
sale. So over the course of the last 2 years with the good support from my CEO
who is passionate about search, we were able to build a great search marketing
team. In this article I am going to be sharing the strategic approach to PPC
profits, the exact same process that we do with our team.
1) Mining the keywords – keyword is the key when it comes to pay per
click. The choice of keywords can make or break your campaigns. So where do
a. Ask the client for a brief about the product or service description, get
to know the target audience profile, note down the industry specific terminologies.
b. Go through the client website; look for keywords in the page content, the
product description, customer testimonials, customer discussions and reviews.
You will find keywords that you wouldn’t have ever come up with.
c. Look for referring keywords in the client website log files or analytic program.
You can find keywords that customers are using to reach the client website.
d. People normally search on a website when they are unable to find what they
are looking for browsing through the categories. If the client has website search
utility, that is the treasure house of keywords.
e. Time to sneak into the keywords on your competitor’s site and keywords they
are bidding on; use free tools like Googspy or go for paid ones like Adgooroo
or competition tracking tools like Trellian.
f. Let’s not forget the keyword suggestion tools like Overture, Wordtracker
and Keyword Discovery.
2) Multiplying the keywords – If you had followed the above steps by
now you should have aggregated a ton of keywords. And as if it weren’t enough
I am going to show you to add another ton.
a. Misspellings – Every one is in a hurry searching for something or the other,
so there will always be typos that you can take advantage of.
b. Geographic Modifiers – what better way to bring down the competition just
by adding the location you cater to.
c. Buying cycle Modifiers – depending on the phase of the buying cycle the potential
customer might use different modifiers like free, article, download, checklist,
buy, cheap and so on.
Close to 40% of google searches happening in a month are said to be unique searches,
which means there is very high chance that these modifiers play a role in that.
3) Organizing the keywords – Ok now you have a ton of keywords plus
a ton more, doesn’t that drive you crazy? How do you make sense of the huge
list that you have generated? How do you prioritize the keywords? Ok now categorize
your keywords into five categories namely Brand, Industry, Theme, Service and
Seasonal Keywords. This will help you in refining your targeting for your campaigns.
4) Meta Maps – A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some
maps that will put in context the whole concept detailed above.
a. Keyword Map – you can handle this with a simple spreadsheet with column
header keywords, multipliers and categories. With this spreadsheet you can filter
out the keywords that you want to target first, next and so on.
b. Message Map – Though going into details of writing ads, designing landing
pages and developing the right offers/call-to-action are beyond the scope of
this article, I like to just point out that you need to have a map like the
one below for this purpose.
5) Spot the trends – Well timing the market is one of the important
things that is essential to reach maximum profits. You need to understand the
search behavior as to what phase in the buying cycle is the customer at this
time of the year. So where do you get this data from? Look for industry reports;
you can get some good information from Clickz, Hitwise, Trellian and others.
Best of all look at your own sales history (online and offline as well). And
create a trend map like the one below
6) Launch, Track and Optimize – Alright you have done your homework and
finally launched your campaign. Is that it? Well we have just set it up and
there is more to be done. First thing you need to use a good analytics program
that will track your conversions and not just clicks. If you aren’t too concerned
about the privacy concerns people raise with google analytics go for it. And
some tips to optimize your campaigns
a. Depending on the volume of keywords and competition you may want to use bid
b. Dynamic keyword insertion – into your ads to increase the potential click
through and that will help in your quality score too and bring down your costs.
c. Use broad match (with caution) and go through your log files to pick out
the actual keywords. This will help you identify more targeted keywords to use
for exact match and identify negative keywords to remove from the campaigns.
d. Refer your Meta Maps to Time your seasonal keywords, and the categorized
keywords for the maximum profits.
7) Show me the profit – Time to count the $$, don’t you think. Yes there
two important numbers that will show your profits at any given point
a. Cost per acquisition – $1.65 billion to acquire a company but not for a
customer, you aren’t google are you? Fun aside; you need to know how much does
it cost to acquire one customer.
b. Customer lifetime value – you better be sure how the acquisition will impact
your profits, after all isn’t that why you are in business. While the customer
lifetime value by itself a huge topic, for simplicity reasons, it’s the total
$ value that a customer spends with your company.
Why are these two numbers so important? The difference of these two numbers
will tell you if you are making $ or losing $. In fact you should have a fair
idea of what the difference would look like even before you start your campaign
and your basis for bids should be based on this number.
Side note: In case of B2B campaigns where there is a long buying cycle, create
intermediate conversion points. Anything that results in initiating the customer
interaction is a good conversion point.
You always have the map to look at so you know which step you are in and if
you are doing the right thing. Hope this article helps you strategize your PPC
campaigns and maximize your profits. Have questions or suggestions? Leave a
[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrimâ€™s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If youâ€™d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]