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Beware the Click Without the Conversion

Why is this funny?

Because in essence, a "click-through" places money in the pocket of the pay-per-click search engine --- only a "conversion" like a sale or sales lead creates money for the marketer.

Under a practical perspective, a "click-through rate" is the percentage of times your "FREE LISTING" (called an "impression") is clicked on to generate a "PAID" visitor. Until your website conversion strategies "convert" the PAID visitor into a valued action, the visitor is an expense.

The higher your click-through rate the greater your expense and the more revenue you create for the paid search engines. Thus by increasing traffic volume, you fuel the search engine's growth, not yours.

Another perspective is to envision a "click-through" as placing coins into a slot machine. You cannot win the jackpot without inserting coins yet your preference is winning with fewer coins than with more. Likewise, you need click-throughs from your paid search ads to your website to generate sales or sales leads; however, your preference should be winning with fewer click-throughs than with more. If your not focused on increasing your website conversion strategies than this gambling metaphor makes a great deal of sense, right?

The BIG Question is "How to Focus on Maximizing Your Website Conversion Strategies?"

How do you win the "jackpot" with less click-throughs? There are a few different website conversion strategies to increase your results from your paid search marketing. Some of the strategies are managed at the paid search engine level, while the others at handled at the website level (or referred to as your "landing page").

Here is a quick list of website conversion strategies for turning more paid search engine visitors into sales or sales leads with less click-throughs?

1. Negatively Qualify Visitors in Ad Titles and Descriptions:

Your objective is to "negatively-qualify" potential visitors by explicitly stating major product or service attributes, using words that connect with qualified buyers versus non-qualified ones and setting "click roadblocks" like prices to divert "out-of-your-market" searchers from clicking on your ad simply out of curiosity or false pretenses.

Ideally, you want to give the potential visitor the most important information at the "impression" level before you pay for them after a click-through. Consider these elements when writing your ad's titles and/or descriptions?

? Always use the keyword in your title (and if possible, description). Industry research indicates that the "perceived" quality is approximately 60% higher in listings where the search term is included.

? In the description, include short, concise statements communicating your customer benefits. If you have limited room, then prioritize you customer benefits and list only the most important ones.

? Because you have limited character space, you must choose your words wisely. Certain words like, "Maximize", "Exclusive" and "Indulge" have a positive persuasive impact on potential visitors versus negative ones like "Difficult" or "Expensive".

? If you have an e-commerce website Include a product's model number, your shipping incentives and shipping reach (nationwide or international), any guarantees, the price, potential inventory restrictions or other specific product or service information that customers require (or expect) to read and review before making a buying decision.

One important "experience" note ? you will never divert all non-qualified click-throughs. It is human nature to not always read the print and simply click through an ad. Unfortunately, logic does not always apply to behavior.

2. Track Performance for the Individual Keyword:

Track your paid search marketing at the keyword-level. It is essential that you know your "per click" results from the money you spend.

For example, if you have 1,000 keywords active in your paid search marketing program and you spend a total of $3,000 a month ? do you know which of the 1,000 keywords produce the best results?

What if 80% of your sales stem from 20% of your keywords? Moreover, what if this 20% accounted for just a small percentage of your $3,000 monthly cost? If you do not have keyword-level tracking you will not be able to make these financially beneficial assessments. Time-tested experience shows that tracking your keywords generates higher returns on investment and enable greater leverage of your website conversion strategies.

Be careful though of matching options (i.e. broad, advanced, exact, phrase and so on) offered by Google Adwords, Overture and other pay-per-click search engines. They provide "convenience" but unfortunately they skew your keyword performance results.

If you setup a "broad-match" for the keyword "real estate", you will attract visitors who have entered any possible variation of the term "real estate" including geographically specific "real estate" keywords that may have absolutely no relevance to your product or service.

3. Employ Custom Landing Pages:

This is an absolute for all paid search marketing campaigns. Pay-per-click marketing is unique compared to other mainstream forms of online marketing. In part because marketers have the opportunity to select specific keywords, write specific ads and direct the click-through to a specific web page. This "connect-the-dots" process creates the need to develop consistency among the visitor's expectation from the keyword they enter to the ad that draws their attention and down to the web page they "land-on". Relevancy and consistency are essential for an effective pay-per-click marketing program.

One of the reportedly major reasons why pay-per-click marketing programs fall short of their intended goal is because businesses direct all of their click-throughs to their home page or to a poorly developed "contact us" form or product page. Since most businesses' websites are designed to serve mutliple audiences (i.e. media relations, investors, current clients, potential prospects, customer services, etc.) they do not provide the level of relevancy and consistency expected from the visitor to get them to act confidently.

What are "landing pages?" Landing pages are simply web pages designed specifically for a keyword or related group of keywords. They are highly relevant to the keyword searched and consistent with the ad's claim. They immediately focus a visitor's attention on a primary call-to-action (most wanted response). In essence ? landing pages ask your visitors to take an action.

If your paid search marketing is not living up to your expectations, consider which web pages you are sending visitors to. Are they relevant and consistent with your paid ads and keywords? Do they offer too many calls-to-action? Do they "fit" the expectations of the visitor searching on the particular keyword?

4. Consider Branding; Direct Response Objectives:

Branding has significant value for a web business and advertisers certainly prioritize it as the "golden egg" of their efforts. However, associating branding objectives with paid search marketing is questionable. Studies show that search users attribute less relevancy to paid search ads then natural search listings. Also considering the "click cost' associated with paid search, it is preferable to use natural search for branding purposes.

Paid search is an excellent direct response channel since it can be maximized to provoke an immediate "desired action". Unlike natural search where the web page variables (which are not always human-friendly) are tweaked to attain effective search engine ranking, paid search enables you to direct click-throughs to a custom landing page and to split-test the landing page to incrementally increase its direct response rates.

Ideally, only use paid search to "fill" any essential "branding keyword" gaps that your natural search is not able to represent effectively in the search listings. That way, at least your brand is presented as an option for a search users' keyword inquiry. Remember, if your not listed, then you are not an option to fulfill the user's perceived need.

Focus your paid search campaigns on direct response efforts through continuously split-testing your landing pages to increase your close rates.

5. Don't Forget "Latent" Buyers:

A study conducted by DoubleClick/comScore in March 2005 reported that "in half of all cases studied shoppers performed searches related to the category of their purchase at some time in the three months before buying." The study also found that, "on average five searches in a category come before an online purchase."

What this means to you, is even though a paid search keyword appears not to convert immediately ? be patient. The average search user performs five searchers before buying online and the five searches may be across five different keywords. So before removing any non-performing keywords from your paid search marketing, consider its brand and direct response value. It may have a low "scoring" value but be the biggest "assist" to sales.

In summary, focus on "qualifying" your keyword clicks BEFORE buying a visitor who has little or no intention of putting money into your pocketbook. By focusing your efforts on "conversion" rather than "click-throughs" you will increase your website sales and reduce your expenses ? a sure bet for hitting the jackpot. As a client of ours recently stated, "Give me the campaign with 100 click thru's and 30 sales over 1000 click thru's and 10 sales any day!'

Best of Luck!

Kevin Gold is a writer, speaker and co-founder of Enhanced Concepts, Inc. Enhanced Concepts specializes in turning website visitors into leads or sales through web conversion strategies and ROI-driven search engine marketing. If you want to increase your leads or sales and get, a free copy of "Understanding Your Conversion Rate" and "12 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Website Conversion" visit http://www.enhancedconcepts.com.

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