The effects of the present recession are beginning to be felt in marketing budgets across the online space. Some clients are withdrawing from traditional, but less measurable, advertising methods to place their marketing dollars in online channels. Others have seen a general drawback and are reducing PPC and CPM budgets overall.
Despite the temptation to withdraw or reduce online budgets, the volume of searches performed is still showing strong growth. People are using search more than ever, putting your online campaigns front and center in your marketing mix.
So how do you keep your PPC efforts strong when the budget gets lean?
Improve Quality, Not Quantity.
After all, you pay for each click, so doing your best to ensure that those paid clicks are the most qualified, appropriate visitor is the bottom line for sustainment of your PPC campaign.
Removing unwanted clicks from your monthly totals will help focus advertising dollars where they can make the most impact. There are several layers of change to help improve quality. Keyword selection should be the first stop. Where you are targeting users in the sales funnel can have a significant effect on keyword selection. Working less in the “awareness” and “interest” stages of the funnel can decrease click volume, making your monthly budget stretch.
Next, match type should be considered. Broad-matched keywords can bring in a lot of unwanted clicks that drive up costs. A comprehensive negative match list will help you leverage the broad match and long tail searches that it can drive, yet still filter out useless clicks and unwanted searches. Use analytics tools and search query reports to build strong negative match lists. Switching to phrase match may also decrease click volume and drive more qualified clicks. Use caution to ensure the impression volume does not get too low. Exact match can be used in most cases to compliment the broad or phrase matched keywords. These can help reduce cost per click if they are carefully selected, by finding the less competitive, but high converting keywords.
Enforce Ruthless Discipline with Goals.
Set goals and stick to them. Don’t let popularity or perceived value of a keyword drive you. Use the numbers. Track conversions accurately. Ensure that you are trimming keywords that exceed your ROI or CPA goals. If the conversion isn’t happening for a keyword that has good ad position and quality score, then it shouldn’t be using up budget either.
Use realistic goals that are measured by the bottom-line metrics of cost per acquisition or return-on-investment as reported from your back-end revenue reporting. Expectations will vary, even within a given campaign, but you can work to see the whole account maintains its profitability.
It’s a time for tightening the belt to match the economy. You can accomplish this by making the same dollars work harder, and in the process create a more effective PPC account that’s ready to grow when things turn back around.