Problem Solver: How can you stretch a tight pay-per-click marketing budget?

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Alex Porter
Alex Porter

In an effort to cut costs, your CMO has reduced pay-per-click (PPC) marketing budgets (despite it getting the best ROI of any tactic), yet still expects to maintain sales levels. What's a savvy online marketer to do?

Everyone is scrambling to trim the fat right now and marketing budgets often take the biggest snip. Here are a few aspects of your campaign that can be tweaked, allowing you to squeeze the most out of every PPC dollar:

Distribute your efforts. Google is king, but it isn't an autocracy. Take a look at Yahoo, MSN, Ask and perhaps some Tier B engines. When managed properly, they can provide ROI at a lower cost per click.

Use negative keywords. If every penny counts, you need to make sure you aren't showing up for irrelevant search queries. Check reports and analytics, and then add negative keywords. If you have fewer than 100, you aren't trying.

Choose your time parts wisely. If your budget won't allow you to have ads live 100% of the time, try these tactics:

  • Analyze the time of day for each conversion. Stop showing ads during time periods when conversions are in the lowest 25% and ensure ads are 100% live when conversion rates are in the top 25%.
  • Keep an eye on your competitors. If they burst out of the gates each day, allowing ads to display as quickly as possible, they may stop showing up at some point, causing cost-per-clicks to decrease dramatically and allowing you to secure a higher spot at a lower cost.

Drill down with geo-targeting.

  • Analyze internal sales/leads data to determine which states/cities/DMAs are converting at the best rates. Organize your top performing keywords to target those areas and have them live 100% of the time.
  • Use Google Search Insights to drill down on your high-volume keywords. Google Insights shows which states/cities are searching for these terms and also related “hot” terms. Geo-target the high-volume terms and limit your exposure to high-priced keywords.

Don't let ad copy get stale. If you aren't testing at least three versions of ad copy per ad group, you aren't doing your job. Good ad copy can be the best thing for your campaign. Test, test, test to increase your quality score, which can allow you to get more traffic at a lower cost.

Analyze your ad groups. Break down your ad groups as specifically as possible and put different budget parameters on each campaign. If your trademarked terms have a lot of competitors, make sure they are always live and split them out into their own campaign. Analyze all ad groups and manage your total daily budgets in such a way that best performers are live as much as possible, again potentially splitting them out into unique campaigns.

These are PPC optimization tips for all economic climates, but they can really give a big boost when trying to stretch that budget as far as possible.

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