One of the biggest misconceptions about online advertising is that it is always expensive. Certainly, a near infinite amount of money could go into advertising online – but for those service firms with small online budgets and the need to prove real ROI – there is a more inexpensive path. This path begins with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. For many advertisers, the first step on the path to great advertising is to recognize the error of their ways when it comes to PPC. But, before we get into the details of a typical strategic mistake, a little background is in order.
PPC advertising is the foundation of the Google empire. The platform is known as Google AdWords. The PPC advertising value proposition is clear: Put your products or services directly in front of the people searching for them by matching the search query of Google’s user with keywords being bid upon by advertisers from within their AdWords account to show targeted ad copy. Savvy advertisers have the ability to show super targeted ad copy for each search query being typed into Google.com. With some simple marketing mojo, it’s possible to match the intent of the searcher with the ad creative you write – meaning if they (the searchers) are informational search queries you present ad copy that helps searchers solve their stated problem, if they are transactional visitors (looking to buy or demo, for instance) in nature, you focus your ad copy on capturing the click and moving them deeper into the sales cycle. This whole process is attractive to many sales and marketing teams, but almost without exception it is never correctly implemented initially. The mistake is that advertisers ignore the concept of Coverage.
For example, too many advertisers are buying a smaller number of clicks and are overpaying dramatically for each of these clicks (40-70% overpayment isn’t uncommon). These clicks are unproven from a lead and revenue standpoint. Simply put, advertisers are not appropriately visible for the full spectrum of keywords they should be visible for because their budget is being spent overpaying for too few visitors on unproven keywords.
A Coverage strategy ensures that every keyword that is relevant to your product or service is covered in your Google AdWords account, at least at first. Instead of overpaying for a narrow swath of keywords and appearing at the top of the page for them, a marketing team enables coverage bids on every possible keyword combination without overpaying for a single visitor.
The math is simple – by bidding lower amounts on more keywords and writing targeted ad copy for each keyword set (or Ad Group in AdWords parlance)- tremendous page one visibility & coverage can be achieved. The monthly budget that was once poorly allocated to a handful of keywords is now spread over hundreds of keywords – where you once bought a single visitor, for say, $2.00 – you know are buying a single visitor for .40 cents. Granted, your ads aren’t appearing at the top of the page – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing until a keyword really proves out (You will need some basic web analytics systems in place to understand which keywords are real producers).
Implementation of coverage isn’t rocket science – but it is a heck of a lot of work. Typically, it’s a lot more work than the average marketer ever even considered and requires more planning and thought than went into your original AdWords effort. Thus, coverage can only be achieved through exhaustive keyword research and detailed, well thought through targeted ad copy. Coverage achieved through granularity and attention to detail is the first of many waypoints on the way to great online advertising. Are you up for the challenge?