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5 things you can learn about pay-per-click advertising from your marketing agency

I recently contributed to a great eBook on PPC landing pages, and it strikes me that some of the questions addressed therein are useful to our blog audience. Contest strategist Dan Levy of Unbounce.com asked me these six incisive questions, and in this post I’m publishing a few thoughts in response.

Also, be sure to download The Ultimate Guide to PPC Landing Pages from Unbounce.

1.  Why do you think PPC advertising is still relevant now that inbound marketing, content marketing and native advertising are all the rage?

If you go to the hardware store looking for wood screws, you’re damn likely to leave with some wood screws. Sure, you might scope out the scroll saw demo they’re doing in aisle seven. Maybe you’ll think about building a birdhouse — maybe you’ll even buy the materials for one today. But you came searching for a specific item, and that remains a very powerful indicator that you’ll buy that item.

Search is the same way. While inbound marketing & content marketing are incredible sources of leads for many businesses, few things are more powerful than a (wo)man on a mission, searching for a specific thing.

2. What have you learned from PPC advertising that you’ve applied to the rest of your marketing mix?

The importance of serving up a relevant experience and following that thread all the way through to the end of the customer experience (and into re-engagement) in a smart, consistent way.

Because PPC can be so cutthroat these days, we’ve learned in a sink-or-swim environment that conversion rates must be optimized by creating a fantastic, highly-relevant experience for the user that inspires confidence until and beyond the credit card makes its much-awaited appearance.

3. What’s the most surprising thing you learned about your customer during a PPC campaign?

 In our wee toddler days of being an agency, we thought a well-organized PPC campaign targeting searchers who typed in terms like “seo company” or “sem experts” would naturally drive good leads. We were wrong.

This marketing channel — while we continue to recommend similar approaches for countless clients, and they often work wonders — did not produce quality leads for Clever Zebo.

Instead, we’ve found a diverse blend of partnership marketing, content distribution, social media, referrals and retargeting to bring us better leads that more often become Clever Zebo clients. It’s a more cerebral sales cycle than the impulsive world of paid search offers, and while that’s a small part of the marketing mix, we were surprised to learn it did not drive the right kind of prospect to CleverZebo.com.

4. How have you used a PPC campaign to validate or reject a marketing idea?

Our client who is an international real estate firm, we hypothesized, would benefit from a more quantitative, data-centric marketing message. We figured serious prospective investors would be compelled by growth statistics about the real estate market being advertised.

Adding hard numbers describing 18% sector growth in 2012 proved to increase clickthrough rate in PPC, and when the same idea was applied to PPC landing pages, conversion rate and lead quality increased.

5. What’s the biggest conversion lift you’ve seen from optimizing a PPC landing page?

We enjoyed a 25% increase in conversion rate a after slimming the key signup form for a subscription-based online tool. We went from a 6-field signup form with password creation down to 2 fields and an auto-generated password sent by email.

While Clever Zebo has seen much bigger percentages of conversion improvement for a landing page, this is the biggest lift in terms of the sheer number of new customers converted in one fell swoop — the company was spending millions per month on PPC.

Want to learn more? I highly recommend you take a look at what these 9 conversion experts have to say about how PPC landing pages play into their marketing mix.