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We’re digging ourselves out of a huge snowstorm here in Boulder, Colorado. The main road into Boulder (US 36) was closed for most of Thursday, and we had about 15″ of heavy snow. Crazy stuff!

Congratulations to Susan R. who won last week’s fun contest. She’ll soon be annoying her office co-workers with a new USB missile launcher. Yeah! This week’s tip – Cost Per Click Advertising – can drive qualified buyers to your website. Done incorrectly, it’s a great way to waste a lot of money. Read more below >> Eight Ways to Drive Traffic To Your Website Tip #4: Cost Per Click Advertising (Acquire) One of the quickest ways to drive qualified prospects to your website is Cost Per Click (CPC) Advertising. You also have control over the process, including budget. What’s CPC Advertising? When you search in Google (and most of the other search engines), there are two places that results are displayed. The first is the natural (also called “Organic”) search results. These are the search results based on how well your website is optimized for the keyword terms that someone types into Google or another search engine Natural Search Results The second place is the sponsored results. They usually have “Advertisement” or “Sponsored Results” in faint letters. Advertisers use an auction system to have their ad placed on the page, and pay only when someone clicks on the ad. Traditional marketing uses a cost per thousand impressions to place ads. If you wanted to have your ad reach 100,000 people, you would pay on a cost per thousand basis, such as $20 per thousand. To reach 100k people at $20 CPM (cost per thousand; using the Roman Numeral ‘M’ to signify thousand), would be $2,000. However, the issue with traditional CPM marketing is that while it allows the advertiser to specify how many people they want to reach, it’s not as compelling for advertisers as an approach where you only pay when someone actually clicks on the ad.

CPC AdvertisementWith CPC advertising, the advertiser can set a daily or monthly budget, and then agree to spend up to a certain amount to have their advertisement appear when someone types in specific keywords into the search engine. But it gets a little more complicated than that. If you have an advertisement that is deemed a relevant ad, then you will pay less for a top position and less for the the clickthrough. Google is in the business of providing the most relevant search results possible to their users. That’s why they’ve created a feedback mechanism that rewards more relevant ads and penalizes ones that aren’t as relevant. Google determines relevancy by how often people click on an ad and how optimized the landing page is for the particular keywords. It gets even more complicated than that, but if your ad performs well, you’ll see a lower cost per click and a higher position of the ad on the page. Best Ways to Use CPC Advertising: Local Reach / Geographic Targeting. It’s easy to only advertise in a specific geographic location. If you only serve a specific region, you can advertise to people only within certain cities, states, or select a radius from your business address. Demographic Targeting. Some systems allow you to target specific users by age, income, and other interests. Time Restrictions. You can set ads to only appear at certain times during the day or days of the week, so that you can target end users who might be searching during the weekend, or only target busy business people searching during work hours. Conversion Tracking. You can place code on your website each time someone fills out a contact form, calls a phone number or makes a purchase, to let you know which keyword the person used to take the action. CPC Mistakes To Avoid: It sounds easy to get started, but little mistakes can cost a lot of money. Some of the top mistakes to avoid include Using Keywords that are too broad. One of the fastest ways to chew through your daily budget is to use non-targeted keywords that are too broad and thus more expensive to have a top position. Not using qualifying words. A qualifying word might be “hire” or “purchase” as part of the keyword string. That can help identify more serious prospects. Not using geographically targeted words. If you’re located in a specific geographic area, make sure that these terms are also part of your keywords you’re using to advertise. Not using exact match, phrase match properly. You’ll be able to get a different price if people are searching for an exact match (i.e. the exact term they put in is what you are advertising) instead of having you bid on keywords that are just part of their keyword search string. Not using negative keywords. Yes, it’s a double-negative. But negative keywords prevent your ads from showing if the negative keyword is also in the search query. One of our clients sells wallpaper (the kind you put on the walls of your home). One of the problems, though, is that people search for wallpaper for their cell phone or PC desktop screens. Using a negative keyword of cell phones or computer prevents spending unnecessary money on non-relevant prospects. Paying for the #1 position: Sometimes it’s important to have the top sponsored spot. But position #2 or #3 might be a better overall value and allow to get quality clickthroughs at a lower overall price. Not having an optimized landing page. A landing page that isn’t relevant to the search keywords will penalize your relevancy score. But even worse, it will reduce your chances that someone will know what to do when they reach the site. We recommend never sending people to just the home page of your site. Not putting conversion tracking into place. Without conversion tracking, your CPC efforts are still a guestimate. With conversion tracking in place, you’ll be able to measure exactly what works. Setting a budget that’s too low to get good data. If your budget is too low, and you’re always reaching a daily threshold, your ads may not be running enough to get statistically significant testing results. Summary: Done correctly, CPC advertising can drive more prospects and sales through your website. It’s a reason we’re in business today. Without CPC advertising, it would be difficult to reach the person who’s actively searching for information. Done incorrectly, it’s easy to waste lots of money and not be able to determine if your marketing dollars are well spent.

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