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Get Rich Quick with PPC! Sorry, PPC Success Takes Time Too

Many web site owners believe that search engine advertising success (such as Adwords PPC) comes quickly. This is understandable when much of the advertising about PPC talks about how fast you can get a campaign up and running.

While it’s true that you can get a PPC campaign up and running in less than hour, that doesn’t mean you have a successful advertising campaign!

In our experience it takes at 2-3 months or more to ramp up a PPC campaign to the point where it might be resulting in a positive ROI (Gross profit – Ad Spend – Cost of running the campaign).

It Takes Time to Test Keywords and Ads

It takes time to test the hundreds and often thousands of keyword variations and the many ad versions that we develop and test.

You need to let enough data build up for each keyword and ad before deciding which ones are working best – not just bringing traffic to the site, but resulting in conversions (whatever important actions are being taken on the site such as signups, inquiries, purchases, etc).

This is a continual process, but if the site is converting a reasonable percentage of the visitors from a campaign we often do see a positive ROI within a 2-3 months.

However, it takes much more than effective PPC ads to develop a positive ROI. What happens after visitors arrives at the web site is extremely important.

PPC is Often the First Real Test of a Web Site

For about half of our search advertising clients the PPC campaign is the first real test of their web site. They’ve never run a marketing campaign that brings traffic to their web site while measuring the conversions from the campaign.

They really have no idea how well the site converts those visitors.

The User Experience on the Web Site Is Crucial

For the majority of our clients who have never tested their web sites to see how well it converts visitors into leads and business we learn within a few months that the web site isn’t doing a good job of converting the traffic from the search ads.

After two or three months it’s clear that the PPC campaign is not resulting in a positive ROI. And if it’s not converting well in PPC it’s likely the site is not, and never was, do a good job converting “organic” search visitors and visitors from most other referral sites as well. We usually see this with the analytics we implement whenever we start a PPC campaign.

Occasionally the issues are so awful the web site really needs to be redesigned. However we can often fix most problems by systematically make changes to the web site to effectively move visitors along a conversion path to a conversion point – A place on the web site where a visitor is likely to convert, such as filling out a request form, buying something, signing up for a newsletter, picking up the phone etc.

But it takes time, often many months to improve conversion rates to a point where a PPC campaign is showing a positive ROI.

Example: This Site was Not Converting Visitors into Leads

Here’s an example of results for the first 4 months of a client’s PPC campaign.

Month Clicks Cost Leads Count Cost
per lead
Views of
Contact Page

Aug-07

185

$720.50

0

$720.50

5

Sep-07

211

$719.32

2

$359.66

12

Oct-07

231

$752.95

1

$752.95

14

Nov-07

215

$718.75

1

$718.75

18

Dec-07

227

$750.79

0

$750.79

14

Note – The “Leads Count” are inquiry/reservation submissions. They have two of these forms on the site each focused on a different market segment.

Within a few months of ramping up the campaign it became clear that their web site was not converting the visitors from search engines into leads as you can see in the chart.

It’s not quite as bad as the numbers show since prospective customers can also pick up the phone and call the company. It was too cost prohibitive to try to track phone conversions. However we also track Views of the Contact Page a key conversion point where site visitors may pickup the phone and call or fill out one of the inquiry forms.

In any event the results were so poor that this client was ready to pull the plug and stop the PPC campaign. This is why we ask for a 6 month contract!

Modifications Made To Web Site To Improve Conversions

Using the PPC campaign and site analytics, we systematically helped them improve conversions (leads) on the web site by making suggestions page by page to move people along “conversion paths” to a conversion point – Where they can fill out a form or pick up the phone, in this client’s case.

Here’s all the data for this client’s PPC campaign for 19 months – 

Month

Clicks Cost Leads Count Cost per lead

Views of Contact Page

Aug-07

185

$720.50

0

$720.50

5

Sep-07

211

$719.32

2

$359.66

12

Oct-07

231

$752.95

1

$752.95

14

Nov-07

215

$718.75

1

$718.75

18

Dec-07

227

$750.79

0

$750.79

14

Jan-08

244

$747.60

2

$373.80

23

Feb-08

395

$1,322.79

5

$264.56

38

Mar-08

483

$1,557.47

10

$155.75

47

Apr-08

663

$2,105.66

9

$233.96

74

May-08

537

$1,542.98

12

$128.58

61

Jun-08

501

$1,499.68

14

$107.12

63

Jul-08

492

$1,550.19

11

$140.93

71

Aug-08

404

$1,437.44

7

$205.35

68

Sep-08

408

$1,496.88

9

$166.32

64

Oct-08

419

 $1,544.09

22

$70.19

107

Nov-08

587

 $2,131.92

24

$88.83

112

Dec-08

577

 $2,164.59

12

$180.38

80

Jan-09

714

 $2,420.12

22

$110.01

166

Feb-09

741

 $2,729.59

12

$227.47

109

Mar-09

882

 $3,066.05

28

$109.50

123

The Results: A 300-400% improvement
It Took About Year!

Look at the number of leads and “views of the Contact page” start growing in February 08 (about 6 months into the campaign).

“Conversions” (form submissions and views of the Contact page) continued to grow, with an occasional blip, right up to the latest month of data we have, March 09.

The overall “conversion” rate, which I didn’t include in the chart, improved from about 3-4% the first few months of the campaign to about 10-15% over the first 12 months .

That’s a 300-400% improvement.

Notice that as results improved the client started increasing the ad spend budget, taking ad budget away from other advertising venues and moving it to the advertising campaign that was now working well for them.

The Moral – It takes time, effort, commitment, & persistence to become successful in online marketing – including PPC campaigns.

 

For More Information –

Improve the conversion rate for non-brand keyword phrases for search marking success

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising: It’s about Traffic that Engages and Converts: Not Impressions, Clicks, or even Click-Through Rates (CTR)

 Improving Conversion Rates including a User testing video


eVision – Pay Per Click Experts

eVision has been in business since 1998. We’ve been helping clients around the world build their businesses with PPC campaigns since they were first available.  Most have experienced double, triple, or more in sales increases from their websites.

 

“eVision has steadily increased the number of our subscription signups while reducing the cost per acquisition. Search marketing has become an important and growing advertising channel for us.”

 

Victoria Mead

Direct Marketing Manager

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE www.iht.com

The Global Edition of the New York Times

 

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