The Conversion Chronicles, resources for improving your online conversion rates

Is Your Paid Search Advertising Generating Positive Financial Results?

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As an online business, you may be familiar with or currently utilize ´pay for performance´ search engines to send visitor traffic to your website. Also known as pay-per-click, PPC or paid search, it has literally taken the online marketing world by storm especially the two largest players, Overture and Google Adwords.

A 2004 ´New Methods in Search Marketing´ study by Piper Jaffray stated that ´paid search constitutes more than 87% of U.S. search market revenues.´ This staggering statistic begs the question, ´Are advertisers achieving a positive return on their paid search investment?´ In
other words, are sales being generated or is money just being spent?

The answer to this question may stem from understanding the role of the two critical performance metrics generated by all paid search campaigns (1) click-through rate and (2) website conversion.

The click-through rate is defined as the percentage of times a paid search ad is clicked on out of the total number of paid search ad views within a given period of time.

Click-throughs (i.e. Total Visitors) / Impressions = Click-through Rate (a.k.a. CTR)

For example, if your paid search ad is seen by 10 users and one user clicks on your ad, the click-through rate is 10 percent.

Website conversion is defined as the percentage of users who visit your website and complete your primary objective (i.e. purchased a product) out of the total number of users who visit your website in a given period of time.

Sales / Click-throughs (i.e. Total Visitors) = Website Conversion (a.k.a. sales conversion)

So what role does each play in understanding the effectiveness of a paid search campaign?

Standard practice among advertisers is to concentrate on writing ads that achieve a high click-through rate to send more visitor traffic to a website. Unfortunately the general assumption, ´more traffic equals more sales´, is flawed.

Consider this, which click-through rate is better?

- A 20% click-through rate for a paid search ad that achieves zero sales (0% website conversion.)


- A 0.2% click-through rate for a paid search ad that achieves 10 sales (10% website conversion).

The answer is obvious. The click-through rate is relative ´ it is the website conversion rate that results from visitors clicking through a particular paid search ad that defines its success or failure.

Successful paid search advertisers take a different approach. They start with the end in mind by asking, ´what primary objective do I want a visitor to complete on the website?´ and then they work backwards. They identify the type of visitor and buying behavior that will most likely result in a completed action (i.e. sale, registration, etc.)

In addition, they perceive their ads as automated salespeople who ´qualify´ visitors. Their goal is spend their advertising dollars only on visitors that convert to their defined website objective. Regardless of a high or low click-through rate, the focus is on generating a positive return from the adverti sing dollars spent.

For instance, let´s review two different ads. Ask yourself, which ad best qualifies visitors?

A. Pride Scooters
Low prices and huge selection of
scooters and other mobility equipment.

B. Pride Scooters
From $1850 while stocks last.
Houston, Texas, USA.

If you selected B. you are correct.

Ad B. qualifies visitors based on the buying behaviors and customer type most likely to purchase a Pride Scooter from the business´ website.

First, the ad states a price point (i.e. from $1850) to attract visitors seeking the website´s premium product while disqualifying ones seeking discount or lower-priced scooters. A user researching scooters does not have to click-through the ad to find out a general price range for this company´s scooters.

Second, the ad targets a geographic region since the majority of people who buy scooters demand an actual test ride. If the company is located in Houston, Texas then users from other locations should not feel compelled to click-through the ad.

In essence, ad B.´s goal is to pay ´per click´ for only visitors most likely to purchase their product. This ad attempts to ´filter´ unqualified visitors and reserves advertising dollars for visitors that will most likely generate positive returns.

Instead ad A. spends money on attracting and generating click-throughs from all visitors and relies on the website to filter qualified versus unqualified ones. It seems more economical to filter unqualified visitors BEFORE spending money for the click-through, doesn´t it?

Last, successful paid search advertisers rely on testing different ads to determine which appeal generates the best website conversion for a particular keyword. They rely on actual visitor feedback to help them determine which appeals are most effective. Once a positive return is achieved then focus is shifted to increasing the click-through rate for the best converting keywords so more sales can be realized.

So ´Are you spending money to bring just anybody to your website or only visitors most likely to buy your products or services?´

Start today and focus on what matters most ´ website conversion ´ and work backwards. Think about what type of visitor most likely purchases from your website and write ads that attract them while disqualifying others.

- Use words and details in your paid search ads that target specific visitor behaviors or customer types such as using qualifying words like ´advanced´ to filter out beginners.

- Select keywords that are searched on by visitors specifically looking for you, or your specific type of product or service. Write ads for these keywords that emphasize the keyword and defines specific details about it. For example, if you select ´Sony MP3 player´ as a keyword write an ad with ´Sony MP3 Player´ stated in the title and description. Also add price, models types or other specific qualifiers to attract your type of customer.

- If you use general industry or product cat egory keywords, like ´real estate´ then write ads that qualify the type of visitor you want to click-through. Use negatively-qualifying words like ´real estate guide for advanced investing strategies´.

Most importantly, test different ads while keeping a close eye on your website conversion rate. And remember to always ask yourself, ´am I generating sales at a positive return or just spending money?
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Kevin GoldAuthor: Kevin Gold, Co-Founder - Enhanced Concepts

Kevin Gold is co-founder of Enhanced Concepts, Inc., a traffic generation and conversion enhancement strategy company that enables businesses to achieve positive financial results online. Kevin is also author of FroogleMaximizer™, the first Quick Start Guide to Google’s free product search engine.