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PPC Optimization

Improve the Return on Investment for Your Pay Per Click Campaigns

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I am not a big fan of the fact that marketing by ecommerce startups seems restricted to arbitraging between pay per click (PPC) expense and conversion profits. Certainly ecommerce marketing should be broader than simply purchasing traffic. If you are an ecommerce business relying primarily on PPC, you should probably read my article on SEO vs. SEM.

Even if you follow my advice and reduce your reliance on PPC ads, it makes sense to do everything you can to increase the efficiency of your PPC spends. Here are some easy-wins to optimize your PPC campaigns.

  • Create the Best Ad Possible
    For many, tweaking PPC campaigns has become an exercise in arithmetic. As a result, they stare at various metrics to decide on budget allocation and keyword selection. While there is lot of room to tweak PPC tactics analytically, let us not forget that this is an "ad" we are talking about -- a creative unit.

    Use your insight as an ecommerce professional to create an ad that will connect with your audience, and invite only the ideal candidates to click through.

  • Mention Product Price in the Ad Title
    We are talking about ecommerce, right? If your keyword targets a specific product, you have the opportunity to filter your visitors by boldly disclosing the price to them. If they find the price attractive and click through, they will be ready to buy. If they find the price high, isn't it best that they do not register an unnecessary click?

  • Reject Many; Invite a Few
    Extend the idea in the previous point. Just like we used the mention of the price to attract the right kind of customer and keep the rest at bay, embed other filters within your ad creative.

  • Select a Judicious Mix of Primary and Long Tail Keywords
    More webpages have been created around discussions about keyword selection and keyword matches, than any other topic related to PPC. Primary keywords by definition are untargeted, not to mention expensive. Long tail keywords are better in all respects, except that they might not be able to drive in substantial traffic. So your selected keywords should include a judicious mix of both.

  • Emphasize negative keyword lists
    In almost any scenario that I can imagine, there will be some words that I would add to my negative keyword list. For instance if you are selling used books, and are targeting the keyword "used books," shouldn't you add the word "sell" to your negative list? This will avoid visitors who are trying to find a place to sell their used books.

    For most ecommerce businesses, PPC accounts for a significant proportion of overheads. Any method that can increase the efficiency of PPC spend is always welcome.

  • Segment Your Audience
    It is best that I illustrate this by giving you some examples:
    • Residents of city A might have reason to react differently to your ad compared to residents of city B.

    • Office-goers who access your ad during office hours might display substantially different characteristics compared to those who access it late at night from home.

    • People who access your ad on a tablet device might have different purchase behavior compared to desktop users.
    And if these differences exist, isn't it best to tailor your creatives, keywords, and budgets to each audience?

  • Create an Unending Stream of Ad Variants
    Rest assured that your ad is not yet the best ad that you could create. As you gain more information and experience, you will be able to come up with ads that have a shot at performing better. You should be on an eternal quest of seeking better ad creatives.

  • Send Visitors to the Right Page, Directly
    Every click that you force upon a visitor encourages them to abandon your site. You pay for the first click -- the time when the visitor clicks on the PPC ad and reaches your site. It is best if the sale can be made right then, without expecting users to navigate further.

  • Treat Different Search Engines Differently
    The user demographics of different search engines are different. What might work on one search engine may not work on another. Make sure that your analysis is specific to each search engine on which you purchase PPC traffic.

  • Don't Be a Tool Junkie
    There are many free and paid tools that help you optimize your PPC campaigns. Make sure that you do not rely on them blindly. Sure they give you great information. But there is no substitute for expert judgment.

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