It’s the way of the online world: just as soon as you’ve mastered one thing, it either changes, or something new you need to learn comes along.
Pay-per-click advertising has been around since the late 1990’s, and the rate of change in PPC text ads has slowed considerably. But many advertisers are unaware of the multitude of relatively new opportunities in PPC advertising that can dramatically boost results. Here are some of the most important ones:
Sitelink Extensions. Sitelinks are hyperlinks that appear beneath your ads, linking to additional pages of your website. For instance, sitelinks can link to specific plant varieties, best sellers, top-rated plants, or a catalog request page.
After you set up sitelink extensions, they’re only displayed sometimes. In my experience, Google shows them anywhere between 10% and 45% of the time. Ads that include sitelinks frequently generate click-through rates that are triple those without. In addition, conversion rates are often 50% higher or more.
Product Listing Ads. Product listing ads (PLAs) are a dream come true for merchants with lots of SKUs — especially when the products are highly visual, like plants.
PLAs consist of an image, product name, merchant name and price. They make advertising hundreds or thousands of products practical because you don’t have to write ads for each one, or bid on individual keywords. PLAs are triggered not by keywords you bid on, but by information in a data feed you supply to Google, making it easier to cast a wider net.
Best of all, PLAs typically deliver results similar to traditional text ads, but at a lower cost — usually around 10% less.
Remarketing. For every person who visits your site and makes a purchase, many more leave without purchasing. Often those fleeting visitors are perfectly good prospects — they’re just not ready to purchase right then.
A remarketing campaign lets you target those people who visited your site without purchasing, and serve them ads relevant to their specific interests as they continue to browse the web.
For instance, if someone visited your site looking for hobby greenhouses and didn’t buy on the spot, you can show them ads for hobby greenhouses when they’re visiting other websites. Like other PPC ads, you’re only charged when someone clicks on your ad to visit your site. A remarketing campaign can often be a great way to pick “low-hanging fruit.”
Bing. When most people think of PPC advertising, they think of Google adWords. While Google remains the industry giant, Bing has steadily been gaining significant ground. The Q2 2013 Digital Marketing Report by Rimm Kaufman Group reports that spending on Bing Ads rose 58% in Q2 2013 vs. Q2 2012. That marks the third quarter in a row in which growth more than doubled that of Google.
Not only are we finding that Bing is accounting for an ever-increasing portion of our clients’ PPC budgets, but conversion rates are often much higher than on Google.
Opportunity Costs. Keeping your PPC program on “set it and forget it” becomes more costly with each passing week. Even if your Google text ads are making money (and many advertisers haven’t even determined if that is true), then not keeping up with changes in the PPC landscape comes with some pretty big opportunity costs.
Getting the most out of your PPC campaigns takes just three steps:
1) Set up conversion tracking so you’ll know exactly how your current campaign is doing;
2) Optimize your text ad campaign by refining keyword lists and match types, and continually testing ads and landing pages; and
3) Stay on top of new opportunities and test any that make sense for your business.
It’s not rocket science, but it does take regular attention to innumerable details. If it’s not something you can handle in house, I’ll bet you know where to turn for help!