PPC Strategy – Search Engine Marketing

best-ppc-strategy-atxTo achieve the best results, we devise a custom PPC strategy for each client or new campaign. This metrics-based plan is based on your sales and marketing objectives, in combination with our SEM competitor research and analysis. Our systematic approach to PPC campaign strategies improves performance, avoids mistakes and increases the program’s productivity and cost-effectiveness.

Early in the search engine marketing planning process, we work with clients to estimate the business value (in dollars) of a website visitor. Obviously, this can vary widely with the search term being used. We also determine the value of other actions (conversions) a visitor may take while on the website. In order to develop and implement an effective search marketing strategy, we need to know what these clicks are worth to the business.

Our keyword research and competitive analysis will identify the target keywords that will be most advantageous for your business’ search advertising campaigns. We organize the keywords into thematic Ad Groups and create enticing ad copy and calls-to-action. Then our PPC experts will assign initial budgets and bids for each keyword.

Pay-Per-Click Costs and Benefits

The best way to determine the value of a visitor (and the click that brings him to your site) is to divide your web marketing and sales process into discrete steps. We call these ‘conversions’ in search engine marketing agency parlance. In essence, the sales process guides the prospect through a series of discrete conversions. And, at each successive step, the prospect’s inclination to buy increases. For example, suppose you’re selling $1000 refrigerators online, and your business nets $300 on each sale. For the typical customer, your sales process might consist of these steps:

  1. Initial website visit – lands on Refrigerator page
  2. Navigate to specific Refrigerator Model page
  3. Click on Refrigerator Comparison
  4. Read customer Testimonials
  5. Click Add to Cart
  6. Check out and pay

And, from past experience, let’s say you know that

  • 15% of people landing on the Refrigerator page go to a Refrigerator Model page (Step 1=>2)
  • 35% of Model page visitors click through to the Comparison page (Step 2=>3)
  • 55% of people on the Comparison page click to read the Testimonials page (Step 3=>4)
  • 40% of Testimonials page visitors click BUY (Step 4=>5)
  • 95% of people with a refrigerator in the cart check out and pay (Step 5=>6)

In this case, the probability that a visitor to the Refrigerator page buys a refrigerator works out to .15*.35*.55*.40*.95, or about 1.1%. You make $300 per sale, so the value of a visitor comes to $3.30. So it would make sense to pay that much (hopefully somewhat less) to bring a visitor to your website. Once we know the monetary value of a visitor, we can choose keywords and establish ad groups, select negative keywords, and specify bids.

Bidding PPC Strategy – CPC vs. CPM

The power and value of search engine marketing SEM has made it an increasingly popular advertising channel. This has produced some remarkably elevated PPC costs in highly competitive markets. For example, the keywords ‘mesothelioma attorney’, ‘DUI lawyer’, ‘vehicle insurance quotes’, ‘donate your car’, ‘structured settlement cash’ and others can run in excess of $100 per click in major cities.

Presumably these advertisers have done the math and know the dollar value of a visitor to their business. But CPCs this high can be difficult to justify – and an invitation to click fraud. One can imagine competitors spending their lunch hour hammering rivals’ PPC ads to drive up their SEM costs. [We’re glad Austin search engine marketing hasn’t experienced these extremes.] In any case, our PPC campaign managers review the Pay-Per-Click performance reports to determine the number of impressions per click, and we switch to CPM payment if this would be less costly.

A professional search engine marketing company like Semantic Advantage can develop a PPC strategy that meets your business needs and budget. We will analyze your current situation, identify opportunities and competitive advantages, and define your online marketing program and roadmap. Our SEM services team will choose target keywords, set initial PPC bids and budgets, and create productive ads.

Throughout the campaign, we adjust keywords, bids and budget allocations to maximize Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). All of our PPC services engagements include A/B testing and replacement. This means that, at any given time, we are running (at least) two ads for each Ad Group. Over the evaluation period, these ads will experience differing performance metrics – CTR, Bounce Rates and Conversions. We’ll replace the poorer performing PPC ad with another one we think will do better. Rinse and repeat. Over time, this process  improves the ads’ Conversion Rates and ROAS.

Pay-Per-Click Management Services and Tools

We utilize a variety of sophisticated software applications and web services that assist in PPC keyword selection, keyword grouping, bid and budget management. For pay-per-click campaigns with just a few dozen keywords and budgets under $5,000/month, the native SEM program management tools from Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo! are easy to use and provide basic research, analysis and reporting.

Once your SEM program has a hundred keywords, with ads spread across Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Microsoft adCenter and/or Facebook, it makes more sense to use a high-end SEM campaign management product like Adapt SEM’s SEM-in-a-Box, Apex Pacific’s PPC BidMax, DoubleClick DART, Marin Software’s Search Marketer or Omniture SearchCenter. These tools greatly simplify the monitoring, analysis and management of complex PPC strategies. And they enable us to optimize results and ad spend across multiple advertising platforms.

Many companies outsource SEM-PPC strategy and campaign management to an ad agency, digital marketing firm or search engine marketing company. We generally recommend this for small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have in-house expertise in SEO, search engine marketing or pay-per-click campaign management. These fields require extensive technical knowledge and experience. Especially in highly competitive online markets like Insurance, Law, Real Estate, Restaurants and Travel.

When selecting a PPC agency, choose one with specific expertise in your industry and competitive environment. And experience managing paid search ad campaigns of the same complexity and scale.

Optimizing SEM-PPC Strategy Results and ROAS

Here are some specific PPC strategies and methods our search engine marketing consultants employ when setting up and managing pay-per-click programs:

  • Use bid and budget management software to monitor PPC campaigns and identify opportunities for increasing ROAS.
  • Create separate campaigns for Search and Content ads. Mixing these compromises effectiveness and eliminates some cost reduction opportunities..
  • Keep short-tail and long-tail keywords in separate ad groups. Also separate keywords with dissimilar CPCs or search volumes.
  • Create a separate landing page for each ad group (every keyword even better), and optimize the pages for those keywords.
  • Bid on multiple match types – less for Broad Match, more for Exact Match.
  • Take advantage of ad scheduling and day parting to conform to your target audience’s time zone and availability. For example, if your B2B customers don’t work on weekends, there’s not much point running ads then.
  • Use geo-targeting to focus on your target geographic market and avoid presenting ads in locales you don’t serve. Establish separate ad groups for geographies with different keywords or CPCs.
  • Review the organic search results for your major keywords and use the non-relevant results to build out your Negative Keywords.
  • Begin your SEM campaigns with CPC pricing, then analyze the results to determine if CPM would be less expensive.
  • Test, test, and test again. Conduct split testing (aka A/B testing) to experiment with improved ad titles, ad copy, landing pages and Click-Through-Rates (CTRs).
  • Build PPC Quality Scores with SEO, Social Marketing and enhanced landing pages. This will reduce your CPCs – and also attract free organic traffic.

Semantic Advantage – Austin SEM Services Company

Semantic Advantage is an experienced SEO and PPC ad agency in Austin TX. We specialize in search engine marketing, SEM strategy and campaign management. Our digital marketing team manages pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Bing and Yahoo! For more information about our Austin SEM services, SEO and social media marketing programs, contact Semantic Advantage.