The PPC Secret Sauce

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October 01, 2018
Author: Steve DiPietro
Organization: DiPietro Marketing Group LLC

The PPC Secret Sauce
In my opinion, the PPC secret sauce is, has been, and most likely always will be… Ads + Site Design.

DMG has been preaching this since 1998. Tech guys, who were 100% of the first PPC users, did not know from things such as testing, copywriting, tone of voice, brand personality, main message, call-to-action, eye movement, etc. To them, that was a foreign language.

Fast forward to today. Though things have evolved to a some degree, it seems that PPC is still predominately run by those with either a tech background or little in the way of traditional advertising knowledge and experience. Passing a PPC test is all well and good. It proves that person knows how the car is constructed and how it works.

The key is driving it: where is the car supposed to go, why and how?
To state it differently: PPC is all about traditional advertising concepts within the context of modern technology. Unless the driver has come from the advertising industry, or, at the least, has an advertising or marketing degree, maybe even a psychology degree, perhaps an English degree regarding copywriting, how can an advertiser be assured that they are getting the most leads or sales for the least possible cost? Isn’t that what advertising people are trained to do and are experienced in doing? Tech people know tech. Marketing communications people know psychology and the art of persuasion. I’d take persuasion any day over tech. Wouldn’t you?

I have seen first hand PPC experts, with all of the appropriate operating knowledge, do a wonderful job driving growth for their clients. Yet, the ads and landing pages rarely get a 2nd thought. Everything is key phrases and optimized bidding (automatic bidding, at that).

What about the ads and site design?
Imagine how an ad guy could drive it even further by paying as much attention to ads and landing pages as is given to keywords and automated bids.

How To Test Ads
Example: A person out of the tech side of things, an AdWords expert, had been running the following ad running for a new DMG client. It had a CPA over the previous 3 months of $218:
Headline: (3-word generic phrase)
Body Line 1: Higher Quality, Longer Lasting
Body Line 2: Batteries & Free Ground Shipping!
DMG wrote and tested this ad against the above ad:
Headline: (the same 3-word generic phrase)
Body Line 1: Premium ABC Brand Batteries.
Body Line 2: Lasts Longer. Free Ground Shipping.

Same meaning, different wording. Same landing page. The result: the 2nd ad generated a $55 CPA. The point: words really do matter. Though a professional wordsmith isn’t necessary, someone with the experience to understand the value of testing + the creativity to write persuasive, finely-crafted words is necessary to help generate the greatest return on the least investment amount.

TIP: Take a queue from the direct marketing industry: test ads and never stop testing. Start with maybe 4 ads, each highly relevant to a tightly-knit Ad Group, but, with distinctly different messages.

Example for an ecommerce store: the message for ad 1 could be about best selection; ad 2: free shipping; ad 3: exclusivity; ad 4: new arrivals.

Example for a lead gen site: ad 1: free consultation; ad 2: industry experience; ad 3: two months free; ad 4: 100% money back guarantee.

Make sure that each ad has the same landing page, and that the Campaign’s Settings is set for the ads to Rotate Indefinitely.

After a period of time, from 1 - 3 months, you’ll know which ad pulled the best. At that point, pause the other 3 ads and create 3 new ones to replace the 3 losers. This time, write the ads to beat the winner (which is now the control ad) using the same message, i.e. write the same message 4 different ways.

The Importance Of Page Design
Generally speaking, websites with the highest possible conversion rates are those that have been:
* Carefully thought through from a strategic perspective,
* Designed based on that strategy by a traditionally-trained art director, and
* Written by an experienced copywriter.

Why? Because these are the folks that are trained to sell product and generate leads. They are the ones who can increase a site’s conversion rates. They are the ones who, through the combination of visuals and words based on a strategy, within 8 - 10 seconds of a visitor landing on a page, answer the following questions:
1. What is it you’re selling?
2. Why should I be at all interested?
3. What is it you want me to do next?

TIP: If having professionals re-design your site isn’t in the picture, try testing individual PPC ad landing pages. You’ll discover to what degree the site’s design is costing you. This is, admittedly, difficult at best for ecom stores as it’s not always practical or even possible to create a product page landing page that is entirely different from the rest of the site. But, lead gen sites can easily test.

How To Test Landing Pages
Concentrate 1st on a page for which an ad has a high Bounce Rate. Other than the ad not qualifying the prospect, this page may very well be not truly designed to communicate and, therefore, generate results.

TIP: Bounce Rate is a newer metric available in AdWords. Make it viewable by selecting Columns > Customize Columns > Google Analytics. First, Analytics must be linked to the AdWords account via the Gear Wheel > Account Settings > Linked Accounts. From this point, follow the procedures and advice provided in the Lead Gen: Driving Down PPC Cost Per Lead section.

TIP: Ensure that PPC landing pages are optimized for both mobile and tablet viewing.

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