If you think paid search is the easiest (e.g., Google AdWords pay-per-click campaigns), you will need to check the prices of each click and know your conversion rate and profit margin to see if you can make money on buying ads. Paid search is only fully trackable when you’ve set up Analytics goal tracking (on all types of conversion, including using a tool like Mongoose Metrics to track phone leads), and is usually only profitable when you are adept at frequently adjusting ads, prices, copy, and landing pages. In the case of some clients that resell overstocks or closeout items and have constantly changing inventories, pay-per-click programs can be so complex to manage daily that they require a full-time person in-house and a $20,000/month spend. For other clients, buying local terms like “Salem Massachusetts roofing contractors” can provide great leads for as low as a few hundred dollars a month, supplementing gobs of “free” organic listings while being fairly easy to manage.
Incredibly, only a few years ago, you could set up a paid search campaign and drive cheap traffic to any web page you wanted. Now the quality score (a Google AdWords rating that requires such things as quality content) of your destination page may mean that your ad never even runs…no matter how much you spend per click.
Also remember that those long tail keywords are far less expensive to buy. Less traffic, but far less expensive. With that said, we have examples of over $1,000,000 in revenue from a single $180 click! “Mesothelioma Lawyers” and related terms can go for over $200 a click, but considering some of these lawsuits bring in tens of millions of dollars, there are numerous firms willing to pay these prices 24/7/365.
New options for paying to promote Facebook posts and for Twitter ads are sprouting up and are worth testing. Keep a budget for a variety of paid options.
Make sure your TV, radio and print campaigns feed the funnel and do so in a trackable way. For example, make a specific offer in offline ads that goes to a web page that you can only get to from those ads and look for an overall spike in traffic and sales during an offline spend. The online dating sites are especially good at this and they watch their media buys in each different market and ramp up or down based on media-directed signups.
Online and offline integration destroys the former weakness of not being able to prove advertising works. Magazines, for example, may not provide the power they used to in terms of the printed component alone, but they now provide huge benefits in the form of the content footprint they offer you with a high-quality, highly visible link to your site. Media sites are by nature content-rich, and Google tracks how connected you are to these mediums and how often you are in the news. By doing public relations and being part of various media listings, you can boost your organic search ranks by proving to Google that you are a “player” or a thought leader. The corresponding bump in organic ranks has a trackable value, giving concrete added ROI to a traditional media spend that non-digital ad agencies may not fully understand.
What’s been your experience with pay-per-click?