Would you try mounting an expensive digital SLR camera on a tripod with only two legs extended?

Like an expensive, but broken camera, your paid search advertising dollars can be equally useless if not supported by the three PPC Pillars: Keyword Optimization, Ad Copy, and Landing Page.

Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization involves selecting the right keywords and budget to generate the highest Return on Ad Spend ( ROAS ) and, ultimately, Return on Investment ( ROI ).

For example: Imagine that you have two potential investments, one with a guaranteed return of 50% and the other with a guaranteed return of 100%, but you only have enough money to invest in one or the other — Which investment would you choose?

What seems like a no-brainer investment decision often goes overlooked when it comes to paid search keyword optimization.

Given that most companies’ paid search accounts are budget constrained (i.e. there is more potential impressions/clicks than you have allocated to your paid search marketing budget), careful consideration should be given to exactly which keywords should be allocated to “unconstrained” campaigns and which keywords should be allocated to campaigns that always hit their daily budget limit.

When making these budget allocation decisions, be aware that all keywords are not created equal:

  • Branded keywords tend to show a disproportionately high number of clicks and conversions, while generic long-tail keywords tend to show a disproportionately low number of clicks and conversions. (Why? See [Link to other article] ).
  • Some keywords may be generating traffic to high-margin products while others may be generating traffic to lower margin products.
  • Consider the difference between, “Awareness”, “Consideration” and “Purchase” customer purchase cycle keywords and budget accordingly.

Ad Copy

“First impressions are the most lasting.”

You have only 140 characters to make your first impression on your potential customer — will your company be presented as professional, high-value, and expensive (Luxury Brand) or utilitarian, low-value, inexpensive (Commodity Brand)?

Your Ad Copy presents a unique opportunity to both entice and discourage prospective “clickers.”

Entice prospects that resemble your company’s target demographic by clearly conveying:

  • Value proposition — “Reduces cost by x%”, or “Increases revenue by x%”
  • Competitive differentiation — “Outsells competition 2 to 1”, or “Market leader”
  • Time-limited promotions — “Limited time offer”, or “Sale ends July 31st”
  • Social proof — “Voted best software in 2013”, or “50,000+ likes”

Pre-qualify others who are unlikely to buy your product/service (i.e. waste your advertising dollars) by including:

  • Product price range — “Starting at $5,000” for high-priced products, or “As Low As $10” for low-priced products
  • Age limits — “Must be 21 to enter”, or “Must be 65 to qualify”
  • Purchasing power — “Credit approval required”, or “Requires annual purchase agreement”

Other techniques both entice and discourage at the same time:

  • Frame the target demographic — “Great for new moms”, “Best selling teen product”, or “Enterprise Software”
  • Purchase requirements — “Offer only valid for new customers”

Landing Page

If paid search traffic is the fuel, then the landing page is the revenue engine itself.

Funding a paid search campaign without first spending adequate time crafting the messaging and optimizing the conversion potential of the landing page is like paying for a local TV commercial advertising the opening of a new restaurant six months before the building construction is complete.

Each landing page should have a single, clearly defined goal which will vary according to the specificity of the keyword used to land the potential customer on that page:

  • To generate a sale — online or phone order
  • To generate a lead — online form or phone call
  • To capture an email address — newsletter
  • To encourage a click — affiliate link

Try to avoid the temptation to identify your landing page goal as “branding”, which is typically the catch-all for “I’m not sure what the goal of this page should be.”

Regardless of the goal of the landing page, some key landing page components are:

  • Compelling imagery
  • Value proposition
  • Pricing
  • Availability
  • Social Proof

And of course, the landing page messaging must match closely with the ad copy itself — wasting advertising dollars on product specific keywords that land the prospect on with a product category page or the homepage is never a good idea.

Where to go from here

As with all online marketing initiatives, the key to successful PPC is to test — test keyword budget mix, test different ad copy, and test landing page changes.