As with anything else you do for your business, you want to get the best bang for your buck with online advertising. That’s easier said than done in many cases, however. It’s often too easy to literally throw money away with cost-per-click (CPC) advertising that generates only temporary interest from tire kickers, offers links that are sometimes maliciously clicked by competitors or doesn’t reach the right audience.
Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your odds at succeeding with online advertising. Here are five of them:
1. Split Test
When it comes to selling anything online, there is one buzz phrase that should be in the vocabulary of every digital marketer: split testing. It’s sometimes called “A/B Testing” and it can be your very best friend.
What is split testing? It’s a compare-and-contrast marketing effort that tests two different tactics to determine which one is the best. For example, if you’re selling blue widgets, you might try to run two different types of AdWords ads with different marketing copy. After those ads have run for a while, check your analytics to determine which one had the best click-through rate (CTR). Better yet, which ad had the best conversion rate?
Once you’ve split tested your competing tactics sufficiently, run with the ad that performed best and discard the other one.
2. Use Negative Keywords
The unfortunate reality is the English language simply isn’t big enough to accommodate only your marketing efforts. In other words, you might try to target a keyword that could be interpreted as something completely different from what you’re offering.
For example, if your company sells doors, you would target the keyword “doors” in your search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. However, people also might search for “doors” while looking for information about the classic rock band The Doors.
To avoid triggering clicks from people who are searching for similar words that are unrelated to your business, use negative keywords. Those are words that will prevent your ad from showing up to people who are searching for your keyword but in a different context. In the example above, you would use “Jim Morrison” (the lead singer of The Doors) as a negative keyword so people who are searching for “doors” with his name won’t see your ad.
3. Remarket and Profit
One of the most effective ways you can market online is with retargeting or remarketing. It’s an effort at reminding people in your market about your business and what you’re offering.
Technically, it works like this. You set up an ad campaign with Google AdWords (or any other advertising service that support remarketing). When someone clicks on the ad and visits your site, the ad service employs a bit of technology to effectively “remember” the visitor once showed an interest in your product or service. Then, when that person leaves your site and visits other sites using Google’s advertising service, he or she will see your ad as a friendly reminder about what it is you’re offering.
According to one report, remarketing can boost your conversion rate by as much as 400%.
4. Target People in the Lower End of the Sales Funnel
If you really want to see a boost in your conversion rate, use your SEM to target people who are most likely to make a purchase once they click your link. You can do that with the keywords consumers use in the lower end of the sales funnel.
For example, if you run a business that sells laptops, avoid targeting the keyword “laptops” because there are many reasons why people might perform a search using that keyword. Determining a list of keywords to better implement your marketing strategy that are used by people looking to purchase a product, such as “discount laptops,” would be more specific to what you are trying to accomplish.
In your SEM, use keywords that capture people willing to make an immediate purchase and watch your conversion rate get a nice bounce.
5. Use Long Tail Keywords
Along the lines of keyword selection, also consider using long tail keywords for highly-targeted traffic. Long tail keywords, if you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, are keywords that go well beyond one or two words.
To continue with the example above, a long tail keyword for a laptop seller might be something like: “refurbished Hewlett-Packard laptops at a discount.” Of course, you’ll want to use the AdWords Keyword Planner to be sure people are actually searching for that phrase before you use it.
Long tail keywords are great because the competition is usually minimal (read: the CPC is low), and they can offer significantly high conversion rates because they target a very specific market.
You might be offering the best product or service in the world, but it won’t matter if people don’t know about it. Use online advertising best practices to get the word out about your business and watch your profits soar.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer who blogs at Design Roast. She has been blogging for the past 3 years and loves picking apart online campaigns to see what makes them tick. You can follower her on Twitter as @adrienneerin.