When it comes to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, marketers are always looking for ways to improve performance. The goal is to optimize the account continuously, finding ways to save money and spend more efficiently. Anyone with PPC experience knows that there are countless ways to do this, including adjusting keyword bids, setting daily ad schedules, adding negative keywords, and so on.
Why is it that one of the most obvious ways to spend more efficiently is often overlooked? While everyone is spending time making little tweaks to try and push the needle forward, they often lose sight of the bigger picture, which is the account’s overall budget allocation throughout the year. Using both historical data and competitor’s data and being prepared to adjust on the fly, you can ensure that you are not limited when business is booming and that you’re tightening up and maintaining discipline during slower seasons.
SEASONAL BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
The most common tactic employed when trying to optimize spend throughout the year is seasonal budget adjustments. This is especially true in the vacation rental industry. Many travel destinations experience busy seasons where it is important fill all vacation rental properties, meaning it is important to allocate additional ad spend to these months.
Property managers near ski resorts need to ensure that their winter ad spend budgets can keep up with increased winter demand. If budgets are limited during these important months, it can mean leaving easy money on the table. On the opposite end of the spectrum, once the ski season ends and the snow begins to melt, these destinations tend to experience a lull in traffic. This can be a good time to reduce bids and budgets to save up for the next big push. This is also a good opportunity to shift focus toward homeowner acquisition as opposed to reservations.
On a similar note, it is also important to understand how specific holidays affect performance. Holidays should be considered their own entities, and even during a slow month or season it may be important to jack up budgets for a brief period to ensure maximum efficiency.
Sticking with the ski town example, April and May (a.k.a. “mud season”) tend to be very slow booking months as snow is melting, but Memorial Day can lead to a nice influx of visitors, especially if the specific town is hosting an event. Thus, it is important that spend begins to increase leading up to Memorial Day to ensure that your budget is keeping up with traffic.
It is also important to keep an eye on competitors and their actions, as it may be an important factor in how you spend your budget. If a competitor begins to increase their budget and bids, it is going to lead to an increase in CPC for your account. If this is during a busy period, it may mean that you need to increase the budget even further to keep up. Even though it’ll be more expensive to generate conversions, many times it is too profitable of a time period to let the competition win.
BE PREPARED FOR CHANGES
Lastly, it is important to be able to adjust strategy on the fly due to unforeseen circumstances. While a lot of the previous examples involved using historical data to formulate a plan of attack, things can change out of the blue because of unforeseen weather events, natural disasters, or other large-scale events. I imagine most businesses in Houston would have benefited from completely pausing ad spend during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as the focus of the entire city shifted squarely toward recovery. Similar things can be said for locations dealing with forest fires, mass protests, and so on.
All in all, the moral of the story is that an easy—but often overlooked—strategy for improving account efficiency is better allocating your overall budget throughout the year. Be prepared to take full advantage of busy seasons and important holidays and to spend more efficiently during slower time periods. And most important, be ready to adapt to any unforeseen events. By being prepared you can continue to decrease the amount of wasted spend in your account and improve overall efficiency.
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model where you pay a small amount of money each time someone clicks on your ads. It’s currently attracting the largest percentage of search traffic. If you aren’t running pay-per-click marketing campaigns, you’re obviously leaving lots of money on the table. Here are some of the top reasons why you shouldn’t ignore this channel.
Pay-per-click advertising allows you to target the right customers. As a result, you know where exactly your dollars are going to and only pay those who are interested in clicking your ads. And if your business only serves a particular region, you are able to target just that region alone with PPC.
Measurable Advertising Dollars
Since you can easily tell where you adverting dollars are going and also set conversion goals, you are in a position to see clearly how much it’s costing you to attract any given number of visitors to your website and then convert them to your customers. And also because you are able to see what’s working for you and what’s not working, you can optimize your marketing efforts and confidently scale up your spending.
Complements Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) often takes a considerable amount of time to deliver results. In the meantime, you have to do a few things here and there to increase your chances of success. With PPC, however, nothing stops you from gaining top visibility immediately. This means it can result in an instant increase in leads and sales for your business.
You just need to have the budget to compete with top bids. When your SEO efforts result in an increase in your organic visibility, you have all the two areas fully covered, and your audience then can have the impression that your business is extremely relevant and popular.
Complete Control over Your Budget
In the current fast-paced business world, businesses are working with strict budgets. Small businesses, in particular, are looking for ways to realize their goals without spending too much money. With PPC, they are able to set their own daily budgets and change it at any time. While it’s appropriate to have huge budgets to compete effectively with established businesses, pay-per-click advertising gives them a chance to get started and run some tests.
Inform Your Marketing Channels
Do you want to know whether a particular keyword is converting well? If you do, use PPC to get this information and be able to plan better. And if you want to test the waters with new offerings so as to know the demand and find some valuable information insights, PPC can still be of great help to you and your marketing team. What’s more, it can help you to promote events such as oddball and others that wouldn’t be best for other advertising channels.
Now it’s likely that you can see how PPC is a viable marketing channel for your business. You can get in touch with organizations such as www.ppcpro.com.au for guidance if you need help to power up your own pay-per-click advertising model.
Search, Engine and Optimisation are three words that probably don’t spark a whole lot of enthusiasm in many marketers, except maybe those in the IT and web design industries.
It has always been challenging for any business, big or small SEO budget, to get found in Google’s organic search, but this has recently changed. Alterations in the way Google displays search results have created opportunities for businesses to not only get to the top of the search engine results but to actually get above the traditional listings and into the coveted “position zero” at the top of the page.
This feature is known as Google’s Rich Answers and getting your site up there is not as difficult as you might think. Best of all, it can easily be switched on, so I thought I would share this lesser known marketing strategy with my fellow marketers as I believe it has a lot of potential for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
What are Rich Answers?
Rich Answers are a way that Google attempts to make it as easy as possible for its users to get the information they’re looking for by providing the answer to a question right on the search engine results page.
These answers can come in many forms from text based to images and graphics, maps, lists or just about anything else that the enigmatic Google algorithm deems appropriate.
Here is an example:
Rich answers appear at the very top of the search engine page, above the list of results. Getting your content featured in the Rich Answers section puts you in pole position, right above the number one Google spot.
Are Rich Answers a threat to click through rates?
Some marketers view Rich Answers as a problem in online marketing. This is mainly because users can now see the answer to their question without having to click through to your site. The suggestion is that if the Rich Answer is displayed in full from your site, you may miss out on a potential visitor.
Personally I don’t feel this is anything to worry about. In fact Rich Answers are a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd and prove your authority and expertise. For any given search, unless you show up on page one or two of the results your chances of getting a click through to your site are virtually non-existent anyway. Appearing at the top of the list in the Rich Answers will give you credibility and visibility where you would otherwise go completely unseen.
Interestingly, Google doesn’t just pick the sites with the fanciest SEO and greatest domain authorities to appear in their Rich Answers. This is good news for smaller businesses that might not otherwise be able to reach the number one Google spot.
How to get your content featured on Rich Answers
The first step to getting your content featured on Rich Answers is to determine the specific questions you want to answer. These will be questions your target audience use when they are searching for information relevant to your business.
One great way to find the questions people are asking is to use the autofill feature on your Google search bar. Just start typing in a question and look at how Google completes it. This will give you a clue to what people are searching for so you can word your questions and answers accordingly.
Once you have identified a number of questions you will need to create content around those questions. Remember that content doesn’t have to be written; it can be visual in the form of images or graphs if that is relevant.
After you have determined your questions there are four things you need to do:
- Use <h1> tags to mark up the questions you want to answer
- Use keywords in your content
- Ask the question and answer it succinctly in the body of your content
- Provide variations of the question throughout
Google’s Rich Answer box provides websites of all different shapes and sizes with a great place to feature their content and improve brand awareness. It’s free and if you can pull it off you can beat the big guns to the number one spot and potentially bring more traffic to your organisation’s site.
Paid and organic search are two popular methods of online marketing with two distinctly different approaches. According to a 2016 survey, 53% of consumers use search to find a local business at least one time per month, indicating that attorneys need to have either an organic or pay-to-play strategy or some combination of the two.
Even seasoned internet marketers debate the benefits of paid search over organic search engine optimization campaigns for marketing a law firm online. Both have pros and cons, both require some investment, and both can be incredibly complicated.
There’s A Tool For Every Job
Before we go any further, we can’t say SEO is better than pay-per-click advertising or vice versa. Not every job requires a hammer, and each technique has its place in online marketing. More often than not, these two channels work in a holistic fashion to drive traffic to a website. As is true with investing, lawyers should not place all their eggs in one basket. A thoughtful, comprehensive approach is better than a laser-beam focus on one channel.
For firms that find themselves in the position of having to choose between SEO and PPC, here is the reality.
PPC: Fast, Targeted And Precise Traffic
Over the past decade, PPC has become a popular way for law firms to get direct exposure to the hordes of people using Google or social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Mainstream ad platforms make it easy for marketers to target the exact audiences they want (and not the ones they don’t care about). Despite the sometimes prohibitive costs of paid search, attorneys can use it successfully to generate quality leads for their firms. A huge plus for pay-per-click is the immediate nature of it. As soon as campaigns are approved, they can start generating traffic and leads. No other form of digital marketing has that kind of impact except email marketing (which assumes you have a large list to communicate with).
Here are some other pros and cons for PPC:
- The cost per click (CPC) can be very high for legal terms (in some cases, close to $100 per click for competitive niches). However, top positions in search can then be bought, and not all legal terms are that expensive.
- First-page search traffic can be obtained almost instantly; however, as soon as the ad budget runs out or ads are discontinued, the traffic disappears.
- Ads can be shown to the specific audience a lawyer wants to reach, helping him or her land the cases he or she wants. However, ad platforms can be complicated and difficult to learn.
- Although PPC for attorneys can be expensive, some data show that 84% of visitors convert on their first trip a site.
SEO: Long-Lasting Investment In Your Web Presence
Search engine optimization has been catching the eye of law firms that realize the growing need to have visibility on the internet and in search. Google has a dominant market share in the world of search, so it’s no surprise law firms fixate on it. Even though SEO can take a long time to show results (in many cases, four to six months), the dividends it pays last long into the future.
Even after SEO work has stopped, law firms can continue to rank well for their keyword terms for weeks or even months for less competitive keywords. A high-quality SEO campaign is focused not only on search but also an attorney’s entire web presence. Things like generating good content, building citations out across the internet, and generating a presence on other websites for link building all help build authority for a law firm. In this way, SEO becomes a more thorough marketing initiative instead of a one-off campaign.Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Here are some additional pros and cons of SEO:
- SEO can give firms a solid footing in organic search but rankings can be lost to aggressive competition and algorithm changes.
- Good SEO can help firms rank in applications like Google Maps, which is used by millions of mobile users. However, there are paid positions for those applications too.
- Optimizing a site for search generates free traffic, but there are costs associated with hiring an SEO agency or spending a lot of your own time doing the work.
Above all else, lawyers should talk to a professional when they weigh their options between paid and organic search. Just like there are a lot of fly-by-night vendors for SEO, there are many for PPC management too. The channel you choose should align with your firm’s near- and long-term goals. It should fit into your budget and those dollars should go where they will get the best possible return on your investment.
The answer to identifying the appropriate PPC advertising budget depends on projections, assumptions and math. In this article, I’ll dive into a few of the formulas we use to help companies determine how much to spend on online advertising.
Lead Generation Formula
The core purpose of running paid ads is to achieve a business objective. We use a lead generation equation to help us reach that objective. The equations are simple:
(Revenue / Sales Period) / Average Sale = Number of Customers
Number of Customers / Conversion Rate = Number of Leads
Number of Leads / Conversion Rate on Traffic = Amount of Traffic
Let’s fill in these equations with some real numbers. Let’s say there is a revenue goal of $1 million. There are 12 sales periods per year (recurring monthly revenue) and the average sale per customer is $1,000.
($1 million / 12) / $1,000 = 83.33 customers
To get to $1 million in revenue, you’ll need about 84 customers. Now, let’s assume your sales team closes one out of every five leads, or 20%.
83.33 customers / 20% = 416.66 leads
Assuming a 20% close rate, you’ll need about 417 leads per year. Let’s assume 5% of your paid advertising traffic actually fills out a contact form to qualify as a lead.
416.66 leads / 5% conversion rate = 8,333.33 visits
With a 5% contact form conversion rate, you’ll need about 8,334 website visits to generate 417 leads, which will translate into 84 customers, which will equate to $1 million in revenue.
Of course, that’s if the numbers work out, which leads us to the next step in determining an advertising budget.
Existing Marketing Strategy
Paid advertising is only necessary if other marketing tactics fall short of achieving your revenue objective. Essentially, paid ads can help make up for the shortcomings of search engine optimization, email marketing, social media marketing and other forms of marketing meant to drive leads for your business.
Which marketing assets are currently driving results?
Taking into account how SEO, email, social and other marketing tactics are performing provides a more holistic marketing strategy. For example, if the strategies for SEO, email and social get you to 75% of your revenue objectives, then you’ll know paid advertising needs to account for the remaining 25%. Instead of driving $1 million in revenue, paid advertising can focus on driving $250,000 of revenue.
What are your competitors spending on paid ads? What are their targeted keywords?
You can spy on your competitor’s paid advertising activity by using a service like SpyFu or SEMRush. Simply plug in your competitor’s website URL and these services will estimate their Google AdWords activity – including their estimated monthly spend, targeted keywords and ads.
The key here is to analyze at least five competitors to get a good baseline for the average spend in your industry. Make a list of three known competitors. Then, include two competitors who are bidding on your target keyword.
Let’s say competitor one is spending $3,000 per month, competitor two is spending $4,500, competitor three spends $0, competitor four spends $10,000, and competitor five spends $2,000.
Typically we’ll throw out the high and low to average out the remaining three competitors and get a ballpark estimate of what a company should roughly spend on Google AdWords to be competitive in their respective industry. In the example above, averaging out competitor spend estimates a monthly budget of $3,166 would be enough to be competitive.
But would it really, given your business objectives of $1 million in revenue? Let’s do some keyword research to see if search volumes will achieve your revenue results.
From its inception in the early 2000s to now, the popularity of targeted pay per click (PPC) advertising has grown dramatically. Due to this popularity and success, many businesses not currently using the system are considering making the move. However, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of PPC — and how to create the ideal environment for a successful PPC campaign — before jumping on the bandwagon. When deciding whether or not to involve PPC in your marketing strategy, you must first thoroughly examine your existing business and marketing practices to maximize PPC’s potential.
1. Consider If You Need And Can Handle A Visibility Boost
If sales are slower than you’d like and your business doesn’t appear on the first page of a search engine’s results when you search for the product or service you’re promoting, you may want to consider PPC to increase your visibility. However, you should also make sure that you are prepared for the boost you may receive. Consider if your business can handle an influx of potential customers; if your sales team struggles to follow up with prospects consistently or you have limited resources to increase production, you may want to improve those aspects of your business before exposing it to more consumers. Drowning in more consumer interest than you can handle can be detrimental to your image — and your sales.
You should also consider if your website is ready to maximize the potential of an increase in traffic. Is the landing page aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate? Have you been keeping up to date on the latest data-driven practices regarding web development to maximize your site’s potential? It is important that your landing page and overall website, not just your advertisement, results in conversions. If the site isn’t ready, it may be best to wait before implementing an intensive PPC strategy or you can lose the momentum built by your advertising.
2. Consider Your Target Market
In order to maximize your click-through rate (CTR), you must have a strong understanding of your audience. Users are more likely to click on ads targeted to them, so targeted PPC advertising has great potential. For instance, if your business thrives on local involvement, geotargeting your ads can positively impact your CTR (and, in turn, your conversions). However, if you’re interested in a broader campaign that doesn’t focus on a specific demographic, such as increasing general brand recognition, PPC may be less effective than a carefully-monitored cost per impression (CPI) campaign that does not target specific keywords or locations.
When considering your target market, you should also think about customer value. It’s important that a click on an ad — and the subsequent visit to your site — costs less than what the visit is worth. For instance, if you pay $2 per click for an advertisement but the product you’re selling is only $3, then paying for PPC is not helpful. However, if you pay $2 per click and the product is $600, the profit margin is much wider.
3. Consider Your Budget
One commonly touted benefit of PPC advertising is that it doesn’t necessarily cost much to start, as prices per click can be relatively low. However, it’s important to take care and avoid bidding wars for keywords if your budget is limited, as certain industries’ costs per click can be high. Although projecting a budget for PPC can be difficult, there are several blogs and other tools out there to help simplify the process.
When considering your budget, you should also factor in the cost of having an expert in PPC on your marketing team. PPC can be an involved strategy, as advertisers must keep up with the near-constant changes to Google AdWords, research and list the best keywords, develop campaigns, set up PPC landing pages, and consistently analyze account performance. This can get expensive, so make sure that you consider these costs before implementing PPC.
4. Consider The Possibility Of Combining Multiple Options
Implementing PPC into your marketing strategy should be combined with other efforts. Studies have shown that combining PPC with strong organic search strategies is ideal to maximize profits, as users see a “natural” high ranking on Google (by having your website come up on the first page of a search) as lending legitimacy to a sponsored PPC advertisement. Thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of PPC and CPI advertising and figuring out a combination that works best for your goals will result in the highest number of conversions.
When navigating the murky waters of PPC advertising, it is easy to get swept up in the strategy without first considering your specific business needs. By examining how PPC can affect your business, you can maximize the potential of a targeted audience.