Pay per click marketing can be scary. A lot of people shy away from it because they’ve heard horror stories of large costs without making anything in return. Usually the stories they hear though are from people that attempted pay per click without understanding how it works and the different ways to minimize losses. This doesn’t mean you can’t lose money, but it does mean it can be so minimal that it doesn’t hurt. By running a pay per click campaign smartly, it also means that once you see what’s working you can roll a portion of the profits you make from it back into it without losing anything out of pocket.
Several years ago we ran our very first pay per click campaign using Google Adwords for a product we thought would be interesting to try and sell. It was not only our first venture into putting up a website, but our first attempt at spending money to market one too. We didn’t even have much web design knowledge above the basics of HTML and CSS. We’re talking something that anyone can read up on and have a decent understanding of within a month or two. That’s where we were web design wise when it came to knowledge and working with WordPress. We put aside $400 for our starting budget and figured if we couldn’t get some income and sales coming in to make it work after spending that money we’d move on.
Within our first week we had spent $20 but had made a few hundred. We rolled that back into the pay per click campaign and within a few months we were paying $500-800 a month for advertising but we were getting a nice net profit of $1000 a week. For those who don’t know what net profit means, it’s the money we were putting in our pockets after paying that advertising bill and our product costs. This was without Facebook, without Twitter, and without anything besides having a website up and running an Adwords campaign. The knowledge we had for programming and web design is a fraction of what we know today.
We’re stressing that because it really is that easy to make money on the internet with the right product and understanding how to properly run a pay per click campaign. Most people overcomplicate things way too much, and too be honest, with the knowledge we’ve gained since then on the programming side to make it easier we have a tendency to do that too. The old saying to remember though is KISS (Keep It Simple Silly!), and that is just as true with pay per click marketing.
So how do we keep it simple? There are really just a few things to pay attention to when starting off. The first thing is limiting your budget. Pay per click options like Google Adwords for Google search and Bing Ads by Microsoft for Yahoo and Bing searches allow you to limit spending per day. When starting off, use it. Limit your campaign spending to $10-$20 a day in their settings just to see what happens. Without that limit, it’s way to easy to blow through several hundred dollars without seeing results. Keep it low, get a bit of traffic and see if it results in sales. If it does, roll those profits back into your campaign and slowly raise the spending limit.
While you have a budget limit per day, you can also limit how much to spend per click on keywords you choose for your campaign. You don’t have to be on the first page, or even going after the top keywords. As a matter of fact, there’s so much competition for the top keywords that they’re usually not the ones to focus spending on. Focus on the keywords in the that aren’t the best, but also not the worst. Find something in the middle of the pack and bid on it with a price you feel comfortable with that’ll get you several clicks without eating up your budget. Doing that is a nice test to see if it’s getting you sales or not. There’s no point in spending big and getting on the front page if you’re not getting sales.
Which leads us to the final thing to focus on to be successful when running an pay per click campaign. This is also the most important. Track everything! While the pay per click campaigns tell you which keywords resulted in ad clicks to your website for traffic, you should also be tracking which of those clicks resulted in sales for your product. One way we’ve done this is through sessions, and passing that info over for sales when they’re completed. This way we can see how many clicks, and the cost of those clicks, results in a sale.
For instance, let’s say we’re spending a dollar per click on a particular keyword. We have a $30 profit margin with the product we’re selling before advertising/pay per click costs. After running the ad for a day, we wake up the next morning to see we’ve gotten a sale. We log into our pay per click account and see that that particular keyword has 10 clicks, and by using sessions and passing variables we see that it was that keyword that resulted in a sale. At a dollar a click, we spent $10 in advertising for that keyword to get a sale that now made us $20 in profit ($30 profit margin – $10 advertising that keyword).
If we run that for a while longer, and we see that roughly every 10 clicks gets us a sale, we’re making money. From there you can test your return. Try raising what you’re willing to pay per click for that keyword to get more clicks. Does it result in more sales or less? Look at other keywords, are they doing the same, or are some getting lots of clicks without sales? If you’re getting a bunch of clicks on particular keywords but not seeing sales from them, it’s safe to say that maybe you should remove them. Remember to keep it simple, track what you’re spending per click, how many clicks you’re getting, and what your profit is after you’ve paid for clicks based on sales.
This isn’t to say these are the only things you can do to run a successful pay per click campaign, but these two things are the most basic. If you’re not doing this at a minimum you’ll fail, and with this alone there’s a great profit to be had. If you really want to play it safe, start with Bing Ads before using Google. They’re a bit cheaper as less people use it so there’s less competition over bidding on keywords which means a lower cost. Because of this, we actually have found that in many instances we can make more money with Bing than we can with Google Adwords.
As far as more advanced things to look into once you have the basics, consider your ads that are showing up. If you’re getting a lot of clicks on particularly keywords but no sales, could it be that your ads aren’t clear in what you’re selling or maybe they’re misleading. This results in a lot of clicks and people not seeing what they thought they would. Change it. Be specific in your ads so that when someone clicks it, it’s because your clear in what you’re offering. Look at your website, or the web page the ad is taking them too. Could that be a turn off to customers instead of a turn on that’s making them want to purchase.
Finally, if you’re not sure what sessions are, or passing variables to track sales, as we mentioned above then you need to talk to your web designer! Any decent web designer that’s doing his job should know and be able to set this up for you in a variety of ways. Once that’s set up, being successful with pay per click is a lot easier than most people make it sound.