Paid advertisements are generally not the best use of limited marketing dollars. In my own experience, I’ve worked with companies that have dedicated thousands of dollars a month to poorly chosen keywords only to get maybe one or two leads. One company in particular spent over $6,000 a year on paid advertisements only to get maybe 3 leads out of it. For that same budget, they could have the largest website in their industry online, and be a near guarantee to show up on the front page of Google. What a waste.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have their place. Paid ads for extremely targeted, low cost keywords are still a valuable way to attract leads, especially if you need to generate interest right now. Content marketing is a bit of a slower process, and although it can have a fast payoff, there’s a bit of luck involved. Paid advertisements are also useful if you have additional marketing dollars and want to attract visitors for search terms in which you’re not yet competitive. These are all very real benefits of online ads, even if the practice itself is a bit overused.
Split Testing Content
Paid advertisements (PPC Marketing) are also a very valuable tool for split testing. Split testing is when you have two pieces of content that have either minor or major differences, and you want to know which one performs better. Split testing is a method of testing conversions – measuring how visitors react when they visit one page, and do they respond any better or worse when they visit a different page.
Split testing needs to be as scientific as possible. Ideally, you need to make sure that visitors are clicking on the exact same link for the exact same keyword in the exact same placement, that way the results of your split test are directly related to the value of the page that visitors land on.
Paid Ads and Split Testing
This is where paid advertisements have a great deal of value. Even if you rank first in Google for a specific keyword, there may be minor differences in the people that click on that specific link, possibly because they come from other keywords, or the placement changes, etc.
But with paid advertisements, you can set everything up directly. You’ll know where your ad is placed and what keywords it shows up for, because it will be the same for anyone. Then you can use some type of randomization software to send visitors to one of the two (or three) pages you’re testing and measure the results.
This strategy also provides something that paid ads rarely provide: long term benefit. With traditional PPC ads, once someone leaves your page you lose them forever, and the click had no lasting benefit. But if you are also using your PPC ads to split test, then the long term benefit is the results of that split test. It essentially ads paid ad value, giving paid advertisements more of a purpose beyond simply drumming up immediate business.
So if your heart is set on using PPC ads or you simply want to expand your reach beyond content marketing, consider also using some type of split testing strategy to get the most of your pay per click ad dollars.