Successful pay per click management depends on testing a number of variables to determine the optimum strategy for your company. Doing what someone else is doing probably won't work. Every business is different. Every marketing message is different. Every potential customer is different. To maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns you need to manipulate the following seven variables, trying different things for each until you find the right mix.
1. Bids. You might think that the number one spot on a search engine results page will yield the best results, and you might be right...or you could be dead wrong. We have seen numerous occasions when, while looking at keyword performance at various positions, the second or third (or even lower) position maximized our traffic. You won't know what your best position is until you try different levels of bids, which will place your ad in different positions (all else being equal), and then look at the performance data to see which positions generated the most clicks or conversions.
2. Keywords. What you are probably going to find is that there is a small set of keywords that generates most of your traffic. Those keywords are also probably your most expensive ones. You need to constantly expand the keywords in your campaign, trying to find the ones that generate leads at less cost, even if they produce far fewer of them.
3. Ad copy. The secret to discovering what ad copy works best can be boiled down to three words: testing, testing, testing. That's not just the secret to writing paid search ad copy - it's the secret to writing any advertising copy for your business. You should run multiple ads for all of your ad groups. Then periodically turn off the ones that are not performing and create new ads that are slightly different from the ones that are working.
4. Landing page copy. The same secret applies here. You could argue that landing page copy is more important than ad copy. If the visitor has already clicked your ad and arrived at your site, then you've already paid for the visit. So this is where you have to make your money. The only way to know what landing page copy will generate the most conversions is to split-test different pages. To do that, all you have to do is create duplicate ads that link to the different pages. You also need to make sure that you have conversion tracking scripts in place. If you don't know which pages generated sales or leads, then it's a pointless exercise.
5. Search engines. Google is the king of paid search, with Yahoo! a reasonably close second, but there are many more options. Microsoft still doesn't have nearly as much search traffic as the top two search engines, but it is constantly adding new features to its search marketing platform and doing everything it can to catch up. It's a good option. Ask is the fourth major option. Beyond Ask, you begin dealing with second tier search platforms such as Miva and Enhance. The second tier platforms will be much cheaper, but likely provide much poorer performance. But the only way to know is to try out different platforms until you find what works best for your business.
6. Targeting. If you sell products or services to a local market, then you should concentrate your paid search budget on that market. If you sell primarily to teens or some other well-defined age group, then you should seek search marketing options that allow you to target your ads to that group. If your target market has these kinds of specific properties, then you should configure your pay per click campaign to target those groups.
7. Desired action. Decide exactly what action you want your paid search visitors to take and concentrate your landing page copy and design on getting them to take that action. The last thing you want to do is send the visitors to your home page and give them lots of different options. So it is critical that you decide from the start what you want your visitors to do. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Contact you via a form? Buy a product? Decide on ONE thing and focus your efforts on getting your visitors to do that one thing.
The above list represents the seven major variables you need to manipulate to achieve the greatest possible return on your pay per click investment. It is highly unlikely that your campaign will be profitable right from the start. It takes time to figure everything out. Even if it is, you should never stop testing these variables. Just because you're profitable doesn't mean you can't be MORE profitable. Now get to work!