Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing as a Tool to Dominate Your Online Market

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"I've tried PPC but it seems like a waste of money as I got no returns from it"

"Those guys in positions 1-3 must be wasting a fortune up there. I can only seem to make a profit in positions 8-10"

Comments like those above are all too common in the PPC industry but are these people right to resign themselves to the other channels of selling and accepting that PPC has no or little value in their online marketing mix. This article aims to explore the dangers of doing so and illustrates how PPC should be used as the number 1 tool to turning things around and becoming the top online website in your given market.

1. Pay Per Click Marketing as a benchmark for website quality
Put simply the websites that can afford to bid highly enough to command the top positions on Google are the websites that can generate the highest average revenue per visitor/click. For example 2 companies with a conversion rate of 10% and £10 per conversion or 1% and £100 per conversion would break even if they were paying £1 per click. If your conversion rate was only 5% and you make £10 per conversion (return = 50p per click) then you can see you will always struggle to compete in the PPC market against your competitors who can afford to pay more per click.

Pay Per Click is therefore the ideal medium to test out where your website sits in comparison with your competitors and, more importantly, provide the ideas to enable you to find ways of beating them!

2. The dangers of not improving your website
Too many people find themselves just accepting that they can only afford to bid in low positions (or not at all) profitably. However the risk and downside of accepting this is far greater than just the lost opportunity in the PPC top spots! Your website gets traffic from many other sources that you may or may not directly pay for. If you can find ways of improving your website conversion rate enough to succeed with the best in PPC, then you will know you are making the most of traffic generated from other sources, some of which I have discussed below. Furthermore, if you don't then your competitors will be and it won't be too long before you're finding it difficult to make these other channels turn a good profit as well.

a) Natural traffic
You may not have to directly pay for the 'free' clicks but there is a large opportunity cost in not making the most of this traffic. If you can increase the returns you can generate per click by 50% then this is money that is being lost for good.

b) Affiliate traffic
Affiliates choose which products and websites to promote on the basis of how much they are likely to earn from each visitor they send to your website. If you can't promise them a decent amount per visitor then why would they choose to push your website over a competitor that can?

c) Offline Advertising
Often overlooked. You can spend thousands on radio, TV and printed media adverts to generate customers. However in today's world the internet is used as a research tool in a very high percentage of purchases and it is likely that someone that saw your advert will look at your website. There's no point in getting people excited with a jazzy magazine advert if your website leaves them feeling luke warm, confuses them or they can't find what they want!

d) Word of mouth / Brand driven traffic
Again this 'free' traffic (not really - you worked hard for it) that finds your website can be turned against making a purchase if they don't like what they see.

e) Direct sales contacts
As with the above 2 points your sales team will generate interest in your products but they need a website that supports their message when the undecided research further.

3. How to use PPC as a tool to test your site
So you may know that you can't currently succeed in the top spots and you know you need to, but how do you go about turning things around. This is an extremely complex and large subject area but the basic message is to test new ideas based on where you think the site isn't meeting current visitors needs. The process below illustrates a few steps to try by using PPC traffic. This type of traffic is best for many reasons, not least because you get so much control over the type, quality and amount of traffic you want.

a) Choose a segment of traffic you think you should be best at servicing. For example the keyword 'kitchens' if you sell kitchens.

b) Think about what it is that these people are looking for. This extends further than just the product and price as they have many other needs before they get to choosing and making a decision. How about:

  • Informational needs - does your site give them all the information they need to make there decision confidently? Are the pictures good enough? Are the product attributes all described in enough detail?
  • Decision support needs - does your site assist them in making a choice in what is best for their needs. People don't always know what they want!
  • Security needs - Does your site convince them that you are legitimate, trustworthy and secure?
  • Confidence needs - does you site convince them that you can deliver what you promise when you promise it?
  • Emotional needs - Most purchases are heavily based on emotion. Does your site fit in with the type of image that they want to buy from and be associated with?

c) Look at the guys that seem to be top in your market, either on PPC or otherwise. What are they doing right that you are not. Sometimes the best thing you could do is copy the current best practice and work to improve it. It could be something simple like making a big deal of delivery speed, free delivery or showing 'in stock'.

d) Design tests for your website or landing page to see what improves the conversion and value you get out of each visitor. This is a massive area that is far too large to cover here but might include:

  • Content & descriptions
  • Pictures
  • Layout and design
  • Price
  • Offers
  • Conversion Process
  • Conversion Type
  • How easy it is to find things
  • Navigation

e) Keep testing until you can demand a top spot profitably.

4. Is it the website's fault
This article talks about working on the website to ensure you can demand high spots in PPC. However it is not always the website or landing pages fault that you can not succeed here. There any many other reasons that may need addressing that are discussed below.

a) Does another company's strong brand make it harder for you? A strong and well known brand may lead to a higher click through rate on their PPC ads and a higher conversion rate!

b) Other businesses may be more efficient and able to supply at lower costs. Can you address this?

c) How much value are you and your competition factoring in for the benefit of branding and future or repeat business? Are other companies able to make more money out of customers after the initial sale?

d) Is your competition simply aiming for a low ROI when you are aiming for a much higher one?

e) Are your competition doing a bad job of PPC marketing and wasting money because they are a) incompetent or b) not measuring their returns properly. You would be surprised at the extent of this point - especially among large & global companies that are throwing money at PPC without real control or DIY pay per clickers that have not had sufficient training!

If you need advice on how the process above can be used for your website then please get in touch with your account manager.