Issue #11–Pulling Out the Stuffing – The Layperson’s Guide to Pay Per Click Using Stuffed Animal Analogies
Our guest writer, John Berry, is SEOversite’s Sr. Client Director and Pay-per-click Guru – he moonlights as our stand-up comic and can be reached with questions at John@SEOversite.com.
As the Senior Client Director here at SEOversite, one focus of my job is to evaluate the performance of various digital marketing campaigns from organic search engine optimization (SEO), to social media, to pay per click advertising (“PPC”). Through hundreds of email and phone conversations, it is clear most clients “get” how PPC works, yet the details and intricacies of optimizing PPC campaigns are often muddy no matter how diligently the representative from the web team attempts to explain them. A direct result of this is that my translator hat (my alternative to my Atlanta Falcons cap) is now well-worn and faded, but thankfully still functioning at a high level. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing it as I write this article.
To help our readers understand more about PPC, I’ve elected to use www.johnsstuffedanimals.com as our primary website. It’s fictional of course, and since I’m writing this fiction, I’ve decided that in this particular instance my stuffed animals are most certainly among the finest of all the hand-made stuffed animals on my street, and perhaps even my neighborhood. As this is the case, all I really need is more visitors to my site – my stuffed animals sell themselves, after all – so I’ve decided that I’m going to do some PPC through my web team starting with a budget of $3000 a month. After 1 month, here are my fake results along with my real definitions and explanations of some common terms that every client should know.
At $3000 a month, my daily budget is $100. Based on that budget I’ve been able to capture a 75% impression share here in Atlanta – pretty solid for a large market. This means that whenever people are searching online for my targeted keywords – “teddy bears for sale”, for example – I come up 75% of the time. I might be on the top of page 1 on Google (currently 4 PPC listings are the maximum) or I could be on the bottom, but I’m there 75% of the time either way. Why not 100% of the time? Because there are other competitors like www.BillyBobsPlushies.com also getting in on the action; nowhere near the quality of our product of course, but his money is as green as my Fred the Frog puppet on sale for $39.95.
Depending on how competitive your market is for your services, you may be facing a similar situation. For some products or services, a $3000 budget is way too much, and sometimes it’s way too little. $3k could go quite a long way in a smaller market like Destin, Florida, but would be nowhere close to what you would need for solid impression share in Denver, Colorado. As long as you have the right web team they should be able to point you in the right direction, whether that means spending more or less.
Click Through Rate
I’m happy with my impression share, so I’m going to stick with my $3000 monthly budget. Now what? The next step in my evaluation is my click-through rate or CTR. CTR is determined by your total amount of impressions divided by the number of clicks you received and is a direct reflection of whether your ads are matching what a search engine’s customers are looking for. Many companies will tell you that a 1% CTR is what they’re shooting for, but our Preferred Vendors here at SEOversite will often reach 3-5% CTR and beyond by constantly monitoring the ads and making adjustments to the ad copy based on what’s performing well. This is especially important when you consider that this can even lower your cost per click!
Personally, I’ve been running around 10 ads in my campaign, 2 sets of 5 ads each, to determine which ones perform the best. One set is centered around our teddy bears of any color, and another set is a specializing in my stuffed Gilly the Giraffes for $99. My $99 giraffe ads have been crushing it, so my web team and I decided that we’re going to shift our focus to strictly that ad since the teddy bears haven’t been performing too well.
Time on Site
My impression share is strong and my ads are obviously working as I’m getting a lot of clicks, so now I need to see how my landing page is performing. Your landing page is the page that folks go to when they click your ad. It can be your home page if you prefer, but we typically recommend that you have your web team design a custom landing page centered specifically around the ads that you are running. It usually costs a nominal amount. Time on site – often referred to as Average Session Duration – can tell you whether or not customers are liking what they see when they arrive. For a typical website found through organic SEO, we like to see visitors stick around for an average of 2 minutes or more, but if you’re getting anything over a 1-minute average for your landing page you’re doing just fine in many business sectors.
I convinced my web team to feature Gilly and Gerald (spouses) the Giraffe on our landing page since they’ve been our mascots here at John’s Stuffed Animals since we started. Apparently folks love G&G because our time on site is around 1 minute and 45 seconds – perfect!
Conversions and Conversion Percentage
Of course, none of this matters unless I’m seeing a return on my investment, and that means conversions or leads. Conversions can come in the form of a phone call or an email lead (typically a simple form that visitors can fill out or even a Live Chat), and according to the “experts”, a good conversion percentage (total conversions divided by unique visitors) is around 1%. Again, our Preferred Vendors here at SEOversite are the cream of the crop, so we generally like to see 2% or better, and many of them have crept up into the 6-7% range, which is wildly successful (your mileage may vary).
In my case, we were about 2 weeks into my campaign and I had only seen 2 conversions out of about 300 visitors, which translated to a 0.67% conversion rate. My brain started spinning with thoughts like “PPC doesn’t work” and “I’ve wasted all this money” and “I knew I should have gone with Mildred the Monkey instead of the giraffe.” Thankfully, my web team swooped in and convinced me to add that simple form that I talked about above, which we implemented immediately, and over the last 2 weeks of my campaign, we saw our conversions go from 2 out of 300 to 10 out of another 300 – a 3.3% conversion rate! I knew I had arrived, and a fine single malt scotch whiskey (the peaty kind from Islay, of course – my personal favorite) was had by all. Of course, John’s Stuffed Animals consists really of just myself and Amanda, my Head Animal-Stuffer, so we only needed 1 bottle.
To summarize and in all seriousness, pay per click campaigns can suffer or fail for many reasons. Only by evaluating each factor individually along with your web team can you be sure where your customers, patients, or clients are falling through the cracks. This article is the tip of the iceberg and there is a reason there are professionals who spend 50 hours a week doing nothing but PPC as there is a wealth of knowledge to master in terms of analytics and more. In our example, we found a problem with the landing page, but it can just as easily be an issue with a campaign that is limited by budget, or an ad that simply doesn’t speak to your target audience. Before calling it quits, consider pulling out the stuffing – you never know what you might find. If you are seeking great PPC, by the way, we can help you find the right team and our service is absolutely free. Stay tuned for part 2 in our stuffed animal pay per click series, but for now, email us with questions at Guardian@SEOversite.com or give us a buzz at 305-455-0720 to find out how we can be the “Guardian Angel Watching Over Your Online Presence.”