|By ŠThom Reece 2004 All Rights Reserved
I have been a strong advocate and user of PPC's (pay-per-click search engines) for several years now.
I have thousands of keywords and phrases on bid at a number of PPC search engines and, as a result of managing and tracking those bids over time, I have developed a lot of valuable performance information on a number of the PPC search engines.
My on-going research reveals critical data about such factors as traffic, ease-of-use, return-on-investment, etc. This information could be invaluable to you in assessing your options regarding the use of PPC search engines to market your business.
I consider the use of PPC search engines to be an essential lead generation tool.. The days of building a website and developing enough traffic from conventional search engines and directories to be profitable are over. The competition is just too intense given the number of new sites clamoring for attention and rankings.
And...the competition is going to get heavier...not less. Given the estimated sale of over 70,000 new domain names a day, we can anticipate a lot more demand for a piece of the traffic pie.
The use of paid advertising, through PPC search engines and other media, should be a regular part of all savvy marketing plans. This should not be viewed as a negative development, however. The simple fact is... you will generate more highly qualified traffic from PPC's at a higher return on investment then you will receive from almost all other marketing approach.
Generate High Quality Traffic Instantly: Depending on which PPC engine you are using, you can begin receiving qualified traffic within minutes. Considering that ranking on conventional search engines could take you weeks or months (or never), this has to be a major benefit. If your site is a direct selling tool... it is essential that you generate potential buyers to your site quickly and inexpensively if you are to begin making sales and profits. Waiting around for conventional search engines to list you is just not a viable option in e-commerce.
Control Costs: Budgeting your PPC advertising is simple and easy. You can define the budget you have available to the penny and only spend what you can afford to spend. No surprise billings!
PPC Advertising Is Measurable & Accountable: You will know precisely what search terms are pulling profitable traffic and which are not. The reporting systems of most PPC search engines is very comprehensive and allows you to make fast decisions regarding allocation of funds. Bidding is in real-time which means you can increase or reduce your bids, on given terms and phrases, almost instantly.
Low Start-Up Cost: Most PPC's require a minimum deposit to set up your account. This can range from a nominal few dollars...or as much as $50.00 depending on the PPC search engine. Charges for your click-thru's are deducted from this deposit amount. Some PPC's have promotions which add significant bonuses to your bidding account if you are a new customer.
An initial deposit of $25 would generate 2,500 click-thru's to your site at a 1 cent bid. Even at the more expensive PPC search engines (Overture), which have a 10 cent minimum bids, you will still generate 250 qualified visitors to your site for that $25.00 deposit. Assuming your conversion rates and profits per sale are high enough... this could be a fine return on investment.
Free Research Tools: Most of the better PPC search engines provide keyword and bidding research tools which can be very useful in determining what search terms and phrases to bid on... and how much to spend. Careful use of these free tools will give you the timely information you need to make informed ad buys.
Instantly Respond To Opportunities: This is one of the most useful uses of PPC, in my opinion. You have the ability to generate instant traffic to short term promotions, opportunistic situations, and unforeseen conditions in the marketplace. If you don't have to worry about how you are going to generate traffic to a particular offer, you can spend more time exploring new markets, ideas, etc. Broadening your market is one of the ways you will maximize returns on traffic. Keep your offers closely related so that traffic for one offer will be interested in all your offers.
Testing New Concepts, Products, Services: Testing new ideas, copy approaches, offers, pricing, etc. are fast and simple with PPC. Driving targeted traffic for short periods allows you to test those elements which have the greatest impact on your conversion and profitability. This is really the essence of good direct response marketing.
The following Pay-Per-Click search engines are ranked in the order of traffic generation. Please keep in mind that these are my results. Your results may be different based on the search terms you are bidding on and other variables.
1. Overture (GoTo.com)
6. Xuppa (formerly RocketLinks then Bay9.com)
Ranked in the order of Return-On-Investment:
2. Overture (GoTo.com)
3. Lycos Insite
9. Bay9.com (now Xuppa)
A strong new entry into the PPC arena is Google Adwords Select. This is a bit of a hybrid ad product but it can prove very powerful and responsive. The major drawback is the price. Unless you are careful to learn the nuances of this PPC you can spend a lot of money very quickly. Spend some time with this engine before you commit to large expenditures. The traffic from Google can bury you in a matter of hours and eat up a lot of money before you realize that the ROI (return-on-investment) is not sufficient to create profit dollars. Before you jump into the Google Adwords Select program you would be well advised to educate yourself on the proper strategies to use.
In summation, my results with PPC search engines have been from good to great. They have allowed me increased flexibility in my overall marketing programs, have shortened my selling cycles, increased my sales and profits, allowed me to respond to changing conditions quickly, and given me the ability to quickly act on opportunistic events. Pretty good list of benefits...don't you think?
About the author:
Thom Reece is the CEO and Senior Consultant of On-Line Marketing Group, a Hawaii based Direct Response Marketing & Sales Promotion consulting firm.
His website, the On-Line Marketing Resource Center ( http://www.e-comprofits.com) is visited daily by thousands of marketers looking for free ideas, tips, and marketing resources. Thom can be reached by email at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: 808-929-7377.
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