The glamorous articles about online success often read similarly: Middle-aged, newly-downsized man or woman finds unemployment unfulfilling; man or woman visits formerly trendy, now corporate coffee shop to find community and work on their hobby of drawing quirky, art deco designs on paper coffee cups; a mysterious stranger serendipitously compliments the man or woman on his or her craft and mentions, “I bet you could sell a ton of those on the Internet”; man or woman sets up a one page website and buys $10 of Google text ads; man or woman retires as a millionaire after one year of fulfilling, artistic work making and selling coffee cup designs.
Millions of people do make money on the internet, but stories like the one paraphrased above are urban legends created by newspapers for lazy, daydreaming, over-educated, and under-employed 45 year old hipsters who still regret “selling out.”
That is not you. You are a business that has real products, and real solutions to offer your customers. If this were the Renaissance, you would be the person making a good, honest living finding and transporting the marble for every statue in Rome. If this were the Industrial Revolution, you would be the one selling the bricks to build the factories. If this were the Fifties, you would be the person making the grey flannel for the suits of the millions of company men. You run a business that solves problems and provides for solutions. You do not have to trick, schmooze, or nudge your way into getting new deals. Your products and services speak for themselves. You are the person who actually makes money on the Internet.
How though? You probably have a website already. You probably already have an email newsletter (if you don’t get one now!). You probably even have a blog. You probably don’t have a fully optimized PPC campaign though. Most people think putting up an AdWords or Overture account and bringing in a thousand new clicks per day is enough. More clicks is always better, right?
Wrong. Every click that comes to your site through PPC should be a potential sale. If it is not a potential sale, then it was a waste of anywhere between five cents and fifty dollars depending on your keyword. Assuming that every click is of equal value is probably the biggest mistake that otherwise intelligently developed campaigns make. A good click is a click that not only has the demographic potential to turn into a sale or lead, but also the statistical potential to turn into a sale or a lead.
Sending a thousand clicks to your website by offering “The Best Widgets on the ‘Net” will make whoever goes over the weblog files feel warm and fuzzy inside because of the spike in traffic for the day, but it will not turn those clicks into customers. For that you need a high “TECH” campaign strategy. TECH is an acronym for the four steps to making a real return on investment (ROI) from your AdWords or Overture marketing dollars:
This principle can be applied to any keyword-based marketing campaign, and can be done by anyone who is willing to utilize their time and patience to make money on the Internet. Not all of the four steps are self-explanatory so here is a detailed description and manual for how to do each.
Tracking merely means that you find out whether or not each click in your campaign eventually turned into a lead or a sale (and if it became a sale, how much money did that click make for you). There are dozens of programs online that will do this for you. One of the most popular ones is ClickTracks. It is billed as a marketing tool, not a web developer tool like many other pieces of software around. It gives great ROI tracking reports, and has many features that will let you intelligently tweak your website based on the navigation path of your customers. Another program, that can help is Keyword Max. It provides basic but strong ROI tracking from a web-based format. Both of these programs and many others will tell you how much each keyword spent and how much money it made. For example, you could tell from them that the word “Framed Art” spent $10 giving you 200 clicks from marketing on Google and it made a $120 sale so your $12 ROI for every dollar invested in that keyword. With information like this for every keyword, you’ll be on your way to tracking the most important stats for your campaigns. If you cannot afford or do not find these programs to your liking, you can always use the Google and Overture provided conversion tracking. These features will not provide the amount of the sale to you, but they will provide you with the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for each customer who actually buys something from you or fills out a lead form. From there you can make the same general (but not as lucid or confident) extrapolations about your campaigns.
Exposure is the second step of the TECH-nique to a strong ad campaign. Exposure means getting enough information to make a statistically confident decision about a campaign’s results. To get adequate exposure for your overall campaign, you need to forget the mantra “less is more.” More is better when it comes to the number of keywords in your campaign. Choose as many related keywords as possible when you start. Use Google’s Keyword Selector Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/main?cmd=KeywordSandbox) and Overture’s Keyword Suggestion Tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/). Type in very broad phrases that describe your product, hit enter, and it will tell you more words that relate to it using the language that people actually use to search for them. For example, if you type in “coins” Google will produce a list such as the one below:
- gold coins
- us coins
- rare coins
- old coins
- silver coins
- roman coins
- american coins
- ancient coins
- euro coins
- coins value
- greek coins
- state coins
- states coins
- dollar coins
- coins for sale
- canadian coins
- value of coins
- chinese coins
- two coins
- foreign coins
- valuable coins
- antique coins
The only difference between this sample list and the full Google list is that the full list is about ten times longer!
Put all of the words of which you can think up. Bid them at the minimum bid. Gradually raise the bids until you start getting enough clicks on them that you can apply the Law of Large Numbers and safely make decisions about their true ROI attributes. The Law of Large Numbers in layman’s terms says that once you have thirty six of any single action, then you can reasonably predict that these attributes will stay the same. If you get three conversions for every thirty six clicks on the word “widgets,” then you can assume that that word will, all else equal, convert similarly for the rest of its life. That is not to say that for every thirty six clicks, you will get three sales. It is to say that in the long-run (hundreds, thousands, and millions of clicks), you can expect similar results. Think about it like this. If you flip a coin three times and get three heads, you know that probably just got lucky because a coin’s true heads to tails ratio is fifty percent (actually it’s 51% heads, but you need a lot of time on your hands to do that experiment!). If you flip the coin ten times though and get heads every time, then you are probably really surprised. If you flip the coin thirty six times though and get all heads, then you can reasonably say something irregular is happening with the coin.
Use the data from the tracking programs to find keywords that have produced sales with both a strong ROI and that have also at least thirty six clicks. These are the words that you will call “power” terms. These power terms will be the most important part of the next step in making your high-TECH campaign.
After finding any of your strongly performing keywords, you will then want to pause them in your old campaign or turn them offline there, and then make a new campaign or account with just those terms. To take advantage of their strength you will not want to use a budget feature. You will want to bid as low as possible while still bringing in steady clicks, but not bid so highly that you will spend all of your money in one day. Having a campaign of only strong performing keywords lets you take advantage of your competitors who are the lazy, fly-by-night dreamers who do not believe that making money takes real work. By checking your campaign’s spend everyday yourself (three times a day if you have “hot” keywords that spend quickly), you will be able avoid the budgeting feature. This is good because when your lazier, higher bidding competitors’ accounts are taken offline throughout the day, your ad will automatically show in a higher position on the page for the same maximum bid price that you had at the lower positions. So your one dollar bid that used to put you on the bottom of the first page, is not putting you near the top of the first page where your lazier competitor was paying five dollars per click before his account was taken offline by the budgeting feature. You now have many more lower cost clicks coming to your website that you are confident will turn into sales because you tracked, exposed, and categorized them correctly.
The final part of the high-TECH process is helping your customers spend money; it is how you achieve your conversion rate. That means making your ad copy more appealing. That means tweaking your landing page copy. That means having a good, reassuring return policy. That means hiring a real web design firm create your site so it is easy to find the products a customer wants.
Help is every old fashioned aphorism you would hear your grandfather mumble about when he had to go to K-Mart after “the Five and Dime” and the “Corner Store” shut down. It is “The customer is always right.” It is thinking empathetically. It is caring. It is paying attention to details. It is everything that you would want done for you while visiting someone else’s site. Since, after all, these things are what increase conversion rates.
If you are getting 10,000 clicks from your campaigns every day and you are converting 1.5% of those clicks into sales, then you are making 150 sales per day, but if you are getting those same 10,000 clicks from you campaigns every day and you are converting 3% of the clicks into sales, then you are making 300 sales per day. That conversion rate increase can come from something as small as saying “Thank you for buying” in your website’s copy, or it can come from merely changing the background colors of the landing page. Sometimes just adding a picture of a smiling face on your site can accomplish this! Still, you have to do something if you want better conversion rates because there is no magic formula, only hard work and trial and error!
TECH is four easy steps anyone willing to put in some time and hard work can follow and use to succeed online. There are no guarantees in life, but you already knew that. Working smart and working hard though takes you a long way. This article should be a big step in working smart since you have already been working hard.