The Biggest Lie of Pay-Per-Click Marketing

[standing up] My name is Bryan and I am a screenshot addict.

When I fall off the wagon, it happens every so often, I pick a keyphrase and start clicking through PPC ads and their landing pages taking screenshots of the entire experience. It’s hard to imagine how often the experience from keyword to ad to landing page is broken. I fight the urge to call them, yell at them, and beg them to stop throwing away money. I don’t do it; but it’s so tempting.

After a few weeks or months pass the same advertisers, the smarter ones it turns out, drop those ads or pause them because their Quality Score is too low.  I can just hear their internal discussions as they analyze their metrics and rationally conclude that keyphrase X doesn’t convert for us.

(Maybe we should start the Internet Marketing Darwin Award for PPC ads.)

No, no, no, no, no! It’s not the keyword’s fault.

Keywords don’t fail to convert!!! It’s us who fail to convert visitors for that keyword.

Do or did you believe the keyphrase you chose is relevant to your business? If it is, then it’s  your responsibility is to show every visitor how that keyphrase is relevant to their needs. Every visitor that comes to your site is not completely unique. They have various, but mostly foreseeable,  motivations persuading them to buy and various foreseeable objections that would keep them from buying. Ask yourself:

  • What is their intent in using those keywords?
  • How does your PPC ad address the intent for all the keywords (and potential search queries) in your adgroup?
  • What need or desire are they trying to fulfill?
  • What is their goal?
  • How do we align our goals to meet theirs?

PPC ads are just like tapping someone on the shoulder. PPC ads are only meant to grab attention not to convert. If you want to convert your visitor you need to work on the rest of the experience (the conversation) beyond the click.

Do you make any money when a visitor just clicks your ad? No. I don’t think anybody does.

So instead of thinking of PPC as pay-per-click start thinking of it as pay-per-conversation.

Devote some resources to optimizing your conversations.

How to Get Started Optimizing your Keyword Marketing

1. The first thing you need to do is bucket your keyphrases. Start with the first 100 or so top phrases that drive traffic to your website. For each one of those classify the terms by phase in the buying process. Does the keyphrase apply in the early, middle or late stage of the buying process?

If the term is driving traffic to your site but not really relevant to your business put it in a disqualified bucket for now.

For example: Someone is planning to buy a new television set. Early in their buying process they might use phrases like LCD tvs, best LCD tv, or LCD tv reviews. As they progress to the middle stage you might see keyphrases like compare Sharp and Sony LCDs, LCD tv 1080 dpi and then move on to specific models in the late stages like Sony KDL-52XBR6.

2. Define and realign your goals with your visitors. Would you expect every person you went out on a date with to marry you at the end of the first date? So why do we expect every keyword to convert visitors to our ultimate goal, the sale or the lead? Our job is to get them there, but based upon their buying preferences, they may not be able to move any faster than they are prepared to.

Start planning micro-goals along the way to your macro-goal (sale or lead). Someone earlier in their buying process might not be ready to commit on their first visit. Plan smaller milestones or micro-goals that may lead that person to convert at a later point in their process.

Why don’t many more early or middle stage landing pages have some easy way to capture a visitor’s email address with some kind of offer? I wish I knew.

If your web pages were sales people, how many of them would you fire or at least get trained?

Don’t pay for a keyphrase or a date if your only expectation is a full commitment at the end.  You need to romance them and show them all your best moves. (Warning – this is conversion advice and it works but I’m no dating expert, just ask my wife.)

Some examples: Maybe you can offer them a buyer’s guide download, a coupon for their first time purchase, an offer to see a webinar about how to choose the product/service they are considering or a price alert notification if this item goes on sale.

Every keyphrase should have a goal that is in alignment with the visitor’s stage in their buying process.

3. Measure your success and build confidence. Respect and support your customer’s journey along their buying process by pulling them along instead of trying to push them to commit too fast. That is the friction that is caused by your sales process colliding with, instead of aligning with, their buying process. This is what creates cognitive dissonance. What you need to build is confidence. Your visitors need confidence that you are there to support their buying process and confidence in your ability to address all their needs and wants in order to convert visitors at all stages.

Start tracking and evaluating your keyphrases and landing pages by how well they support moving visitors through the buying process.  Analyze these micro-goals and continuously optimize the experience to move further and further along so that you keep them on target. Every step closer to the macro-goal is a success, every visit that bounces is a failure.

Please let me know what is stopping you from taking these steps right now?

Please share if you think others would benefit.