Seven Ways to Increase Pay-Per-Click ROI

  |  January 24, 2003   |  Comments

Targeting qualified traffic isn't the best you can do. Drive qualified visitors to actually buy.

Online marketing must be about the customer's choices. In this "virtually" frictionless environment, a customer is a self-service volunteer with lots of choices and access to any of your competitors with a single click. Nowhere is this more true than in search engine marketing (SEM).

To meet your business objectives online you must first meet your customers' objectives. Every click must provide relevance. They look for relevance when they come to your site. They have a need or problem or are in search of a solution. They are looking for someone who will provide enough information and comfort so they can make a buying decision the in the way they're most comfortable making one.

A site's persuasive architecture leads each person, along with her individual approach to making buying decisions, comfortably along the sales process. It's mapped to a decision tree users find relevant and persuasive at every click.

Here are seven tips we share with clients to optimize their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns:

  • Track on a macro-action basis. Track every keyword/key phrase to conversion on a macro-action basis. A poor result for a particular keyword or key phrase doesn't mean you should drop it. It means your Web site should better accommodate it.

  • Track on a micro-action basis. Track every keyword/key phrase to conversion on a micro-action basis. This clarifies how your visitors interact with your Web site's persuasive dialogue. Micro-actions are key decisions that must be made before a visitor can decide to buy -- the action that's your ultimate goal. It lets you optimize your Web site's dialogue to terms you use with persuasive architecture.

  • Select keywords based on buying process. Choose your keywords/key phrases based on an understanding of the buying process for your product or service. Fredrick Marckini, CEO of iProspect, says it best:

    If all online marketing were measured strictly on the immediate, post-click conversion, nobody would spend another dollar. The reality of good marketing strategy is clear: People enter a market for most products or services at a variety of stages in their personal buying cycle. If you target only those people who have done their research and are ready to buy, right now, you will miss the majority of your market.
    There are four types of site visitors. The first arrive by accident. Make sure your unique value proposition is clear to ease him out and offer the next three types a reason to stick around. Make it easy for someone who knows exactly what she wants to find it. Ensure you can accommodate the typical shopper who only knows approximately what he wants. Offer him categorization tools to narrow down the selection. Don't forget the last type, who is more of a "window shopper." She may be enticed to buy depending on how you present to her.

  • Use visitor latency. Some terms won't immediately convert well in a campaign, so track macro-actions and micro-action factoring in latency. In a recent study with a shared client, Jim Novo documented how visitors came in cycles of 14 days from PPC engine to actual purchase. PPC ad campaigns are just that -- campaigns -- not one-off tactics.

  • Define metrics clearly. Calculate return on investment (ROI) correctly. Divide the amount you spend per keyword/key phrase by your gross margin (gross profit minus cost of goods sold) on products or services bought from that keyword/key phrase. If you want to generate leads, establish a base amount every lead is worth. Divide the amount you spend per keyword/key phrase by your value per lead.

  • Go broad. Focus on those keywords/key phrases with the greatest ROI before those with the most traffic or gross sales. You don't need to be ranked number one. Many of our clients have found the top position has lower ROI than other strategic positions. My ClickZ colleague Kevin Lee says, "Broad campaigns are worth the effort. Broader terms are cheaper and often equally, or even better, targeted. Added up, you could run one powerful campaign."

  • Engage visitors in persuasive dialogue. Use persuasive architecture to anticipate visitors' frame of mind, plan the action you want them to take, and tell them what they need to know before they can take that action. Match ad copy closely with keywords so the visitor perceives the relevance. Then, make sure the persuasive dialogue on your site is the dialogue your visitor wants to engage in.

Whether you're a brand marketer, an online retailer, or responsible for generating more business leads, PPC is a medium you can't ignore. Are you content to merely target qualified traffic, or will you do what it takes to meet traffic where the wallet is?

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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