Do you have a transactional website that could benefit from more exposure through Paid Search Marketing (PPC)? If so, the good news is that everyone can do PPC. It doesn’t require a huge initial investment, it’s a very flexible channel (a campaign can be paused in a matter of seconds) and you have full control over every penny spent. The bad news is that unfortunately PPC doesn’t work for everyone. Bidding on keywords related to your business doesn’t guarantee searchers clicking on your ads and becoming customers.
Here’s what you need if you want PPC to meet your expectations and provide a positive contribution to your ROI:
1) A user-friendly website
A user friendly website includes a hassle-free checkout process and specific category or product landing pages featuring rich and unique content.
2) Products people are interested in
It doesn’t matter how big your business is, whether niche or more generic, your products must always have an audience actively looking for them.
3) Competitive prices
63% of people conduct research on multiple websites before completing their purchase online (Econsultancy, 2011). If customers find that a product you’re selling is cheaper on another website, it is very unlikely they will return to your site and complete the purchase.
If your business is missing one of the above elements, you may wish to ask yourself the following questions before jumping into PPC:
1) Is my website user-friendly, easy to navigate and rich in quality content?
If not, your business may not yet be ready to get the most out of PPC. Analyze your traffic data, bounce rate and the average time users spend on site, and pay greater attention to the Google Analytics In-Page Analytics Report, which is a goldmine of useful information.
Identify and remove all the obstacles that make the user’s experience complicated. Make use of A/B split testing to understand which layout visitors find easier to use. Isolating the checkout process is one proven method of reducing abandonment.
Also try adding unique content optimized for product related keywords. An SEO friendly website will have a positive impact on PPC campaigns. Adwords Quality Score (QS) is, in fact, influenced by the quality of the landing page. A poor QS means a higher cost-per-click.
Don’t ever stop the process of improvement. Always analyze your data, test new solutions and make changes when necessary.
2) Are people interested in my products?
If not, you need to rethink your marketing strategy. Google Trends and Google Keyword Tool are free tools that provide an insight into what is popular, giving you an estimate of the monthly search volume for your keywords. If the search volume for keywords related to your products is too low, you might be able to expand your range of products or explore other channels like affiliate marketing that will enable you to “push” your products in the places where your targeted audience is likely to be.
3) Are my prices competitive?
If the answer is yes, then what have you been waiting for?? PPC can drive more relevant traffic to your website and boost ROI significantly. Integrate PPC with other marketing channels and start building your account gradually. If your brand is well known, don’t hesitate to bid on your brand terms after first registering them with the search engines to prevent other advertisers from doing so.
If your prices are not competitive or don’t represent good value, PPC (and I’m afraid any online marketing channel) is not going to work for you. You need to look at your competitors and align your prices with theirs.
Be Smart. Big players like Amazon and Ebay cannot be beaten on price. Don’t try to fight a price war that cannot be won, or as Sun-Tzu said: “Every battle is won before it is ever fought”. Explore opportunities, find your niche and start growing. Use temporary killer offers (known by the supermarkets as loss leaders) to attract customers to your website. If your website and the overall ecommerce experience is good, you may be able to encourage repeat purchases, brand loyalty and most importantly, brand advocacy. After all, those who advocate your brand will talk about it too, and word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool of all!