by Carl Weiss
Do you like to fish? The reason I ask is due to the fact that the best way to look at pay-per-click advertising is to regard it as being like fishing. You dangle some bait (your ad), you get a nibble (the click) and then you try to reel in the fish. The problem is that while most PPC advertisers manage to get the first part of the equation right, many fail to perform the necessary second step: reeling in the fish. Then they lament the fact that PPC ads are robbing them blind. In order to help alleviate this problem, I have created a step by step guide to maximizing your ROI.
Step #1: Dangling the right bait
Make an offer and generate a click. That’s pretty much all it takes to make pay-per-click marketing work for you, right? Wrong. While you are correct in that you only get charged when your ad generates a click, trying to work PPC marketing this way is extremely inefficient. Many business people graduate from print to online marketing. In print advertising the rule of thumb is to cast as wide a net as possible. The problem is that this is the worst approach for PPC ads. In paid online advertising, you aren’t looking to hook every fish. You are looking to hook the fish that ideally fits your profile of the perfect prospect. Therefore your bait has to be tailored to hooking the right fish.
This entails understanding the demographic and psychographic profile of your ideal customer. What age brackets do you wish to target? Which income brackets are key to your ideal prospects? Where do your ideal prospects shop? What kind of restaurants do they frequent? Knowing these factors will not only help you hone your ad to a fine edge, but it will also aid you in selecting the best keywords and phrases from which to fish. The chief difference between a novice and experienced angler is that the old pro knows where the best fishing spots are located.
Only once you have a complete profile of your ideal prospects is it time to create the ads that are designed to appeal to this group. That’s right, I said ads. The beauty of working online is that every eyeball and click can be tracked. In order to maximize your results in any PPC environment you want to design and test a number of different ads. What sounds good on paper may quickly prove to be next to useless in the fast paced world of the Internet. Unlike print ads which are fixed in stone for a set amount of time, online ads are imminently adjustable. Within a few days of launching any PPC campaign you should be able to determine which ads are pulling their weight and what ads need to be either tweaked or pulled out of rotation altogether. You should also do the same for your keywords, as well as the networks upon which your ads are displayed.
Unless you intend to shred a mountain of money in your initial attempts to locate and appeal to your ideal prospects, all of the steps above must be accomplished before your campaign is activated and the first click is produced.
Step #2: Make it easy for the fish to take the bait
Once you have designed your ad to generate only those prospects that have a high probability of converting into business, you need to look at the place you intend sending them. The single biggest mistake to converting clicks into cash has to be to send the prospect to your homepage. Your homepage is designed to showcase your business, not to create new business. As a rule it is undoubtedly too busy. It offers too many choices to prospects. It wasn’t designed with the express purpose of making an offer. In short, if you send a prospect to your homepage you have just reduced your ROI by 90 percent.
Just like your ad, your landing page needs to be custom designed to funnel the prospect through the buying process with the least amount of speed bumps to doing business with you. It needs to contain a short series of selling lures that will make your landing page stickier. In short order, you need to answer the following questions:
1. What need or desire are you trying to fulfill?
2. How does your offer remedy a problem or ease a pain?
3. How does your offer stack up to the competition’s offer?
4. What counteroffer are you promoting in case the prospect doesn’t take the bait?
The best way to crystalize the process is to take a look at your existing landing page. From a visual standpoint, what catches the eye? Are you wasting valuable real estate above the fold with nebulous graphics or fancy Flash cels that do little to entice the prospect into taking action? What type of funnel has been created to limit the prospects choices and lead him or her inexorably to agreeing with your marketing message and taking the bait? How much sales resistance is your offer likely to cause and how does your copy reduce it?
Step #3: Don’t lose the fish on the way to the boat
Other than your offer, or lack thereof, the greatest detriment to doing business with you is credibility. For the most part the letters WWW translate to Wild, Wild West to most consumers. They read daily articles and blogs lamenting the fact that the Internet is chock full of cyber criminals whose intent is to cheat, rob or phish their way into getting their hands on personal information that can be used to financially exploit the average consumer. Therefore when someone clicks on a link, they don’t know who you are. They don’t know if you are reputable. They don’t have any reason to trust you.
In order to turn this perception around you need four elements:
1. An intro video
2. A testimonial video
3. Your phone number
4. Your physical address
Would you buy a car from someone you have never seen? Probably not. Yet that is what most online marketers expect the public to do. Then when their ROI drops precipitously, they blame the media. In order to give prospects even the tiniest iota of confidence in you and your offer, they have to get to know you first. The easiest way to do this is with an intro video.
If the first brush a prospect has with your business is your ad, they don’t you, they don’t know your business and they don’t know your reputation. The surest way to break the ice and instill confidence is to produce a video that introduces you and your business. This video should be no shorter than a minute and no longer than two minutes in length. It should take the viewer behind the scenes to introduce you and your staff. It should briefly talk about what makes you special and last but not least, it should ask for the sale.
Another type of video I highly recommend is the testimonial video. Unlike written testimonials that are highly suspect in the eyes of your audience, due to the fact that it is all too easy to game the system, video testimonials are not only more credible, they also turn your best customers into your best sales people. Combined with an effective intro video, testimonial videos are one of the best ways to enhance your credibility and establish an instant rapport with prospects. These videos should be prominently displayed above the fold, not buried at the bottom of the page.
The other speed bump to credibility is when a prospect either has to hunt for or cannot find your physical address and phone number. Even if the address leads to the location of your business’ PO Box and the phone number leads to a voicemail system, a failure to display both of these items will reduce ad effectiveness by at least twenty percent.
Step #4: What to do with the fish once you have it in the boat
So you have made a successful pitch and have generated a lead or a sale. Bravo. But don’t pat yourself on the back yet, particularly if all you have in hand is a lead. The secret to turning leads into sales without running you and your staff to ground is via a drip marketing program. While most business owners feel that they can kick up their feet and relax once the lead or sale is in the bag, I disagree. All you have done is taken back a tiny amount of ground for a battle that was long and hard to fight. If you really want to maximize the ROI of any online marketing campaign, what you need to do next is craft a multi-touch drip marketing plan that reaches out and touches a prospect no fewer than ten times.
If the result was a lead: You need to set up a series of automated splash pages that are designed to teach the prospect how to buy from you. Every splash page should have a compelling lead and an even more compelling offer. If the lead generated contains a phone number, you can follow up with a call after two to three drips. If not, I recommend sending out a drip every three days. This will maximize your use of manpower and create a prospect who knows and trusts you enough to do business with you. Even if it takes twenty drips to turn clicks into cash, it costs you nothing to continue communicating with prospects via email.
If the result was a sale: This is an even better result. If you want to double or triple your return, I suggest sending buyers a bi-weekly online newsletter that keeps them apprised of your growing business. Feel free to include an offer at the bottom of each newsletter. If you really want to generate maximum return on every dollar invested, this technique is truly gold plated.
Step #5: There’s more than one way to skin a search engine.
While properly executed PPC campaigns can most definitely generate results, a more efficient and far more profitable way to turn clicks into cash is to work at creating organic search engine results. I mean, why buy a cow when they’re giving the milk away for free? If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to generate page one results on Google, look into my Tao of SEO blog.
Carl Weiss is President of WSquared Media Group, a cutting edge online marketing company in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also owner of http://jacksonville-video-production.com If you want to learn how to work the web to win, tune into his radio show of the same name at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.