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A-M-A AMA about PPC Advertising. Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, whatever...

Eskil

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In my continued effort to contribute value to this forum, I thought one good way would be for me to take questions on PPC advertising and marketing online, since it has been my core strength in the past few years.

Some of you have probably advertised your businesses online for years already with SEO and/or paid traffic, but I’m sure there are a lot of others here who are just starting out – or are unsure of the best way to approach paying for traffic for just their website, product, or service.

My own qualifications and background:

I first got heavily involved with PPC advertising back in 2004, at first primarily with Google Adwords (both for search, and their Content Network, as it was called then). Since then, I have spent many a large budget on Adwords and various other platforms, including Yahoo Search, MSN Adcenter (which are now merged as Bing), 7Search, Pulse360 (self-serve media buy network), Facebook Ads, MySpace Ads, and a bunch of other PPC platforms. I have ran campaigns both for my own businesses, for affiliate campaigns, and as a consultant on behalf of clients.
I feel that I have gathered some solid experience on running both small and larger PPC campaigns (especially on Google and Facebook), and I’m happy to answer any questions you guys might have here.


So…bring it on! :)
 

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AgonI

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Well this can't get any better now. A thread about ecommerce, SEO , and now Adwords!

I'm starting out an ecommerce store and I'm selling items from famous apparel/shoe brands which means the competition to rank on google is very high. That's why I want to look into adwords, however I don't know how to get started, this being my first time ever to get involved with Adwords.

Can you suggest me, how do I find out if there is VALUE to advertise these products on google adwords, ie how do I calculate if it's worth it for me to advertise on Adwords. I did search some keywords(they were all product titles) on Adword's keyword tool, but I was unsure whether it was telling me how many people are clicking on these ads OR just the CPC cost ...
I would appreciate it if you can give me some suggestions on getting started with Adwords, ie how do I know which keyword to advertise, should I advertise each product on its own, or I can advertise a category(ie use the category name as a title for the ad)?

Thanks!

p.s. One more question: Do you think it's bad if I use a .CO domain instead of .COM ? Is that going to hurt my sales at all?
 

Money mania

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Eskil,
Thanks for putting this up there. Looking forward to learning more about PPC, campaigns, etc. I am new in this niche and feel I understand the high level overview of this space, at least from what I know you buy traffic at one level say 100 views for $5 and hoping that a % of those 100 views for $5 actually convert at a higher rate to make the spread, is that correct? Could you give some insight on how to better understand the guts of this, such as setting up the moving parts like the lander page, merchant accounts etc. Either any books, websites, posts you would suggest on the "how to" of this business for someone just starting out. It is very exciting and I learn well by examples. Thanks again.

MM
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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Can you suggest me, how do I find out if there is VALUE to advertise these products on google adwords, ie how do I calculate if it's worth it for me to advertise on Adwords. I did search some keywords(they were all product titles) on Adword's keyword tool, but I was unsure whether it was telling me how many people are clicking on these ads OR just the CPC cost ...
Regarding if it's worth it for you to advertise on Adwords - the answer is most definitely yes. That's not to say that it's right for everybody. It has to make sense of course. But in your case, you already know that there is a lot of competition on there. So that right there tells you that there is lots of money to be made. Generally speaking, the more competition you see - the safer it is to assume that there is good money to be made.

Don't compare your efforts however with the largest brand name corporations like Nike or Coca Cola however. The biggest guys are sometimes in it just for branding's sake. But take a good look at other retailers who are actively running on multiple different keywords, and especially those who are targeting "buy" keywords. Which brings me to:


I would appreciate it if you can give me some suggestions on getting started with Adwords, ie how do I know which keyword to advertise, should I advertise each product on its own, or I can advertise a category (ie use the category name as a title for the ad)?
When you’re just starting out with no prior experience, I recommend you start out with a smaller set of keywords. Of course, how much you are willing to spend will determine how big you feel comfortable with as a start. But even if you have thousands of dollars to spend in clicks every day – it’s too easy to loose track of things with too much going on at once.

Many make the mistake of just grabbing a huge list of “recommended†keywords, throw it at the wall, and see what sticks. Instead, (and especially if you want to control the budget starting out), I suggest you do a little bit of research first to find a dozen or so “buy†keywords that are most likely to give you both some good volume and conversions to begin with.

What I mean by “buy†keywords is this:
When people shop online, they are usually in one of three stages:
1) Surfing Mode
2) Comparison / Review mode
3) Buying Mode

A few years ago, I wrote a more detailed thread about this in another forum. It’s a sticky thread here.

Here is an excerpt from it that I wrote, that describes these stages:


Some examples...

Surfing Mode keywords:
sore feet
foot problems
home remedies for sore feet
(users know they have a problem, but still aren’t sure what can help them fix it)

Comparison / Review Mode keywords:
best footwidget
footwidget reviews
footwidget vs shoe widgets
(they have now found out they need a foot widget, and are looking to learn about their pros, cons, and differences)

Buying Mode keywords:
cheapest foot widget deals
FootFixer3000 sale
coupon for FootFixer3000
(finally, the user has narrowed it down and decided he needs the FootFixer3000. He’s got his credit card ready in hand… Now which website should he buy it at? Will it be yours? It’s now up to YOU to convince him!)

So, take a look the keywords you have found for your products again. Weed out the Surfing and Comparison keywords for now. You can attack those later when you are ready to scale out. But if you have a limited budget - it will more often than not be best to start out with lowest hanging fruit - the Buying Mode keywords first. Unless of course, you have already laid out a solid strategy with customized landing pages for the various buyer stages – but that’s a whole different topic I can address later. ;)

Focus on the Buying Mode keywords that you see. Pick out the top 10-20 or so that has the most volume, and we can take it from there.

p.s. One more question: Do you think it's bad if I use a .CO domain instead of .COM ? Is that going to hurt my sales at all?
Hmm, no not necessarily, but a .com is always better to have since it is what a lot of people expect. In fact, a lot of people hardly know there are even other extensions out there. If you are tempted to use a .CO name that already exists as a .COM, I would be very cautious of that. At least see if the other name (let’s say FOOTWIDGETS.com is already an established brand. If it is, and you start using FOOTWIDGETS.CO, it will be
a) Confusing for people who are trying to find the right site
b) Possibly causing problems with the owners of the original site name

With PPC in mind - think about what your name might look like next to your competitors up there in the results. I always prefer finding a name that is unique. If you have a unique and quirky name like Go-Go-Co.Co (or something like that), it could also work to your benefit. Think branding – but not to the expense of messing with people’s or competitor’s minds.
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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from what I know you buy traffic at one level say 100 views for $5 and hoping that a % of those 100 views for $5 actually convert at a higher rate to make the spread, is that correct?
Hey Money mania,
What you're referring to is CPM traffic, where you buy impressions or views based on people seeing your banner ad, textual display ad, popup, video, etc.

This is very different than PPC (pay per click), in which you only pay for every time someone actually clicks your ad.

It is also important to know that there is a big difference between search and display traffic. Essentially, with PPC search, your ad only comes up when someone is actively searching for something (a keyword) that you decided to bid on.

With display advertising, the users aren't necessarily looking for anything at all - but you are trying to catch people's interest as they are using a site (such as when they are on Facebook or reading a news site).

Each type of traffic has its advantages and uses, but I can go into this a bit more later.
I will also attempt to address your other questions here soon, maybe in some sort of a case study with examples, but I'm a bit busy at the moment. ;)
 

The-J

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I'm starting to get into affiliate marketing to get a little bit of cash and I've decided to use Facebook CPA as my platform. (This is a little bit outside the scope of Fastlane forum, but you seem to be knowledgeable)

What techniques have you used to improve CTR? And how specific do you target niches when you advertise? Thanks (this will also help me with my business, as I'm going to start advertising on FB soon)
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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I'm starting to get into affiliate marketing to get a little bit of cash and I've decided to use Facebook CPA as my platform. (This is a little bit outside the scope of Fastlane forum, but you seem to be knowledgeable)

What techniques have you used to improve CTR? And how specific do you target niches when you advertise? Thanks (this will also help me with my business, as I'm going to start advertising on FB soon)
CTR on Facebook is mostly determined by your image. Your headline (and description) will affect it too, but not by far like a good image would. The trick is to think outside of the box, be creative (pun intended, lol), and be the best at capturing people's attention.

However - keep in mind that it's not ALL about the CTR. You could have a completely wild image that has people clicking like crazy, just out of curiosity - but end up giving you no conversions. Or, you could have a *tempting* image that gets the right people, targeted for your offer, to click in and actually convert.

The most important thing is to test, test, and test.
Try setting up a set of at least 10 different ads for each campaign. Start out with broad variations in the images. Try black and whites, try colored / striped frames, try arrows, try humour/funny pics, try optical illusion pictures, etc etc. You never know what will work best until you start split-testing lots of variations against each other. The more ads you can afford to test - the better.

You will lose money starting out, but eventually you can weed out the losers and see a pattern in the ads for what seems to work better for your particular affiliate offer.
 
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Eskil

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I should also add that if you've already been running on Facebook Ads for a while - you will notice that your CTR will gradually fall down over time. How quickly this happens will depend on how large your target demographic is.

Smaller demographics = better targeting, but more banner blindness and a quicker drop in CTR.

Larger demographics = more longevity of your ad, but less targeted clicks.

Split your demographics into sub-campaigns by either age, interest, gender, or whatever suits your campaign.
 

HsrJames

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I was wondering if you have any tips to get back on adwords after having an account suspended arbitrarally. I was suspended for some affiliate marketing I did years ago that no longer meets their TOS. I now have my own website that I want to market. They said not to open another account but I wonder if I could open one in my business name with a business credit card. Thanks.
 

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Wuping

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Hi Eskil!
Since I'm competing in the Fastlane Forum Competition I've started looking more into Adwords.
Right now I'm in the brainstorming phase. I'm therefore using Adwords to test out the need of my different ideas which I really like so far.

However, I want to ask you more about your experience with PPC. How is your typical approach when starting a campaign?
Do you start with really broad keywords, let it run for x time of y click. Analyze the data and change keywords etc?
Could you please explain more in detail about your approach?

And if you don't mind, can you share any success stories you've had with Adwords?

Looking forward to it!
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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I was wondering if you have any tips to get back on adwords after having an account suspended arbitrarally. I was suspended for some affiliate marketing I did years ago that no longer meets their TOS. I now have my own website that I want to market. They said not to open another account but I wonder if I could open one in my business name with a business credit card. Thanks.
My apologies for not seeing this sooner!
I would honestly just contact their customer support and explain the situation. They want your business as long as you can prove that you are using their service for what they consider "clean" purposes. You shouldn't have to circumvent it all with a new business card, id, and everything. If you were just trying to do more affiliate marketing however, that would be a different story.
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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However, I want to ask you more about your experience with PPC. How is your typical approach when starting a campaign?
Do you start with really broad keywords, let it run for x time of y click. Analyze the data and change keywords etc?
Could you please explain more in detail about your approach?
My typical approach starts (naturally) with some dilligent research on keywords. Google's own keyword tool is a no-brainer here, but I have also used various other tools over the years. Some of them are not as good as they used to because of API changes, etc. One of the lesser known tools I often used was the Microsoft Advertising Intelligence plugin for Excel.
I haven't used that in a long time though and I'm not sure if it is still operational. They still have a link up for it here:
Microsoft Advertising Intelligence

Anyway - so let's say you have identified a "bunch" of keywords you think are relevant to your business. Now comes the task of sorting them out into groups or categories. This is a mundane task, but will pay off later. People who don't do this end up spending way more time later on trying to figure out why some adgroups and campaigns are hurting their CTRs, CPCs, and ROI.

It basically comes down to finding out which keywords should go into what adgroup (or separate campaigns). See the post I made above about buying mode keywords, etc. What you want to do is create separate adgroups that have a different purpose. So, one adgroup will target all those people who are just looking for information - while another adgroup will targeted towards people who are more ready to buy.

Again - your budget kind of dictates your focus here.
Low budget = stick to focusing on the 'buyer minded' keywords only. Here you will want to go after mainly phrase and exact match keywords as well, not so much broad keyword bidding.
Higher budget = also spend time targeting keywords that may bring you leads, or send people to a special landing page that can convince them to take decisions.

NOTE: An alternative approach to this, if you really have NO idea what keywords might work - is to decide on a handful of very broad and generic keywords, and let them run with broad, phrase, and exact match. For instance, say you are starting up a business selling CB radios, and you know absolutely nothing about this market. Instead of starting out with keywords like "buy CB radios cheap", or "Panasonic CBX3000 sale", you could start out with simply "cb radios" as a test. Now if you want to find out what people searching for that term is really looking for - let them tell you. Bring them to a page with some pictures and content, with a big search button where you log every search that people make. Site searches (tracked in Google Analytics) will let you know what those people really were trying to find.

Was it information on how to become an amateur CB user? (sell them an ebook). Was it DIY builders kits on how they can build their own? (sell them DIY kits). Was it CB radios for their truck? (offer them deals on cb radios).

But also - never neglect to do competitor research as well. Look around and see what other results are coming up when people are searching for the terms you are after. Are you seeing mainly big box stores just pushing their brand? Are you seeing other small businesses specializing in the niche? Are you seeing articles and content sites? Can you spot any gaps in what is being offered (or not offered)?

Here is something that is important to remember when it comes to Adwords:
Your campaign has just as much to do with what you offer - as how you are setting up your campaign. Simply because - people like to click the back button a lot. They will click ad 1, check out their site for 10 seconds, click back, check out ad 2, browse that one for a minute, then click back, and then ad 3, and so forth.

So half the battle is keywords, grouping, and ad copy.... the other half is having an IRRESISTIBLE and UNIQUE offering that stands out from the rest. :)

Anyway - so after I have grouped everything, I make sure that the campaign is set to NOT target the display network, only search. I set day-parting within reasonable hours (usually no point running ads from 12am to 7am, depending on time zone and unless you are promoting remedies for sleeplessness, lol). Over time, your Analytics will tell you what hours of the day and days of week are peak times for conversions.

And if you don't mind, can you share any success stories you've had with Adwords?
I used Adwords very successfully when I owned my own hosting company. Since I was running a recurring revenue model, it's hard to say what the actual ROI on my ads were - but I know for sure that what I paid to aquire a customer on Adwords paid itself off in tenfolds and then some! I could afford to be in the #1 spot consistently because I had my own company, and had really high margins. Guys who were running affiliate campaigns - trying to compete with me, had a serious disadvantage since they were limited to a low, fixed amount on return.
 

Vic

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I was wondering if you have any tips to get back on adwords after having an account suspended arbitrarally. I was suspended for some affiliate marketing I did years ago that no longer meets their TOS. I now have my own website that I want to market. They said not to open another account but I wonder if I could open one in my business name with a business credit card. Thanks.
Here's what you want to do for that, I got this from some of my sources inside Google. Before contacting Google, change every single disapproved ad and lander to something legit. It's seems retarded, but they want to see that you have made a concerted effort to change your ways. This can be a challenge especially if you have dozens of campaigns for different things.

You have to understand that Google works in silos , so even if you contact support they have to push it to quality control. So the person you speak with doesn't necessarily have the power to change it even if they wanted to.
 

HsrJames

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Thanks for the reply. It is definately a weird situation. I did these affiliate marketing programs through clickbank and other independent sites about 7 years ago and advertised them through adwords, which was okay back them. I stopped advertising them probably 6 years ago when they weren't profitable. I created my own site in 2010, deleted all the previous campaigns, and start a campaign for my own site. I them paused that campaign and redid the site to better meet the needs of my customers, before I was completed I got the suspension email. I've been through customer service on the phone and the person said my site looked fine and they would review it. I didn't hear back, so I email them and they sighted those past campaigns landing pages being against TOS and said not to open another account. It's messed up because my site is designed to create legit value. And eventually I would be spending a ton of money on Adwords if things took off.
 

cants

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In my continued effort to contribute value to this forum, I thought one good way would be for me to take questions on PPC advertising and marketing online, since it has been my core strength in the past few years.

Some of you have probably advertised your businesses online for years already with SEO and/or paid traffic, but I’m sure there are a lot of others here who are just starting out – or are unsure of the best way to approach paying for traffic for just their website, product, or service.

My own qualifications and background:

I first got heavily involved with PPC advertising back in 2004, at first primarily with Google Adwords (both for search, and their Content Network, as it was called then). Since then, I have spent many a large budget on Adwords and various other platforms, including Yahoo Search, MSN Adcenter (which are now merged as Bing), 7Search, Pulse360 (self-serve media buy network), Facebook Ads, MySpace Ads, and a bunch of other PPC platforms. I have ran campaigns both for my own businesses, for affiliate campaigns, and as a consultant on behalf of clients.
I feel that I have gathered some solid experience on running both small and larger PPC campaigns (especially on Google and Facebook), and I’m happy to answer any questions you guys might have here.


So…bring it on! :)
Great thread! Big thanks!

Is it possible to set up an affiliate site without relying on SEO? Google doesn't approve sites affiliate sites that link to amazon, do they?
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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Great thread! Big thanks!

Is it possible to set up an affiliate site without relying on SEO? Google doesn't approve sites affiliate sites that link to amazon, do they?
Yeah it's doable, but very hard if at all on Google anymore. Try a social site like PlentyOfFish or Facebook for starting out with ppc to affiliate offers.
 

Likwid24

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When you run a Facebook ad, and it gives you the suggested bid per click, is it necessary to stay in that range?
 
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Brian Mc Shane

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Hi Eskil

Very kind of you to share your knowledge!!!

I have a question for you...

In your opinion is PPC a viable option to promote a paperback book?

What im getting at here is that over the last few years ive dabbled with adwords but have found the CPC to be too high to make it a profitable venture.

Obviously due to the relatively low margins on a paperback book it is tricky to find PPC sources at a price which makes it worthwhile (in my opinion)

What would you recommend for this type of promotion?

Thanks in advance
Brian
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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When you run a Facebook ad, and it gives you the suggested bid per click, is it necessary to stay in that range?
I posted about this in another thread, in response to Mike39 being on a budget with his PPC.

I'll copy/paste my suggestion again here: :)

- bid conservatively. Do NOT let Facebook tell you what you should bid. What are your bids like now? I hope you didn't go with their "suggested" range. Always start out with around 40% lower of what their minimum amount says. So if they suggest a range of $1.00 to $1.50 CPC, start with $0.60. If the campaign doesn't get any impressions - slowly but surely increase the bid in increments in steps of $0.05 until you are seeing impressions come in.
I hope that helps, Sal.
 

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Likwid24

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Thanks Eskil! That's exactly what I did. I guess I made the right choice. I ran 3 ads starting today. If you want I can show them to you (But your going to have to tell me how. lol).
 
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Eskil

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In your opinion is PPC a viable option to promote a paperback book?

What im getting at here is that over the last few years ive dabbled with adwords but have found the CPC to be too high to make it a profitable venture.

Obviously due to the relatively low margins on a paperback book it is tricky to find PPC sources at a price which makes it worthwhile (in my opinion)

What would you recommend for this type of promotion?
Yes it very well can be, although the way you promote it to people clicking on paid ads will greatly affect your success - more so than the ppc ads themselves. I have never ran campaigns for books, but regardless of product - you need to know upfront the metric(s) you need to for it to work.

Since you know how much profit you will make on each sale, do a quick calculation of the conversion rate you must have - and CPC you need to stay within to at least break even.
Your CPA must be the same or lower than your profit per sale for it to make sense. CPA in this context means, Cost Per Aquisition. In other words, how much will it cost you to "buy" one buyer of your book. The cost of bringing in 1 sale.

So, for example:
Let's say you are making a $10 profit on each (after publisher/printing costs or whatever). Your CPA cannot be greater than $10.

So let's say you have 100 clicks on your ad. You're paying $0.50 per click. ($50 total)
You have set up a nice landing page, showing perhaps some excerpts or previews of the book. Bulletpoints, etc.

You will now need $50 / $10 = 5 sales to break even. So you will need a 5% (5 / 100 clicks) conversion rate to break even.
Obviously, the less you pay CPC, and the better your landing page converts - the more you make.

Your maximum CPC must be less than or equal to your conversion rate, multiplied by your unit profit.
or....
Your conversion rate must exceed your CPC, divided by your unit profit
or...
Your unit profit must exceed your CPC, divided by your conversion rate

If you cannot make these numbers happen on one platform, look around. There are literally hundreds of paid traffic platforms out there. Some way better than others. But if Google Adwords isn't for you, look into social PPC, paid banner placements, paid Youtube placements, and more. And in many cases, a CPM model (pay for impressions, not clicks) might work better for you than CPC.
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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Thanks Eskil! That's exactly what I did. I guess I made the right choice. I ran 3 ads starting today. If you want I can show them to you (But your going to have to tell me how. lol).
Great choice then! :) Yeah I'd be happy to take a look at them. I guess you can either email me screenshots of them, or if you want me to take a closer look into the campaign, I would need access to the account (which, I would understand if you wouldn't want to give out). But screenshots can show me a lot anyway. (If so, send some screencaps of your targeting settings as well as the ads themselves).

:)
 

Wuping

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Eskil: Thanks a lot for your very detailed answer! Really answered my questions:)
Now I've got another question - hope you don't mind:)

The last couple of days I've run an Adwords campaign. I managed to get a 2% CTR, however the CPC where way too high.
It was around 1$. Now I've lowered it to 0,6$ and I'm almost not seeing any impressions:(

I thought starting out with a rather high CPC and gradually lowering was they way to go? Perhaps I just lowered it too much?

Once again I hope you will share your insight!
Thanks a lot:)
 
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Eskil

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Now I've got another question - hope you don't mind
I don't mind at all, no. :)

The last couple of days I've run an Adwords campaign. I managed to get a 2% CTR, however the CPC where way too high.
It was around 1$. Now I've lowered it to 0,6$ and I'm almost not seeing any impressions

I thought starting out with a rather high CPC and gradually lowering was they way to go? Perhaps I just lowered it too much?
Yes you have probably lowered it too much.
But - how many ads do you have per keyword / adgroup? I recommend to start with at least 4 different ad variations on each - because some will give you lower CPCs than others. Split-testing ads is key to bringing down the costs.
 

JaySoriano

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Brian Mc Shane

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Thanks so much for your in depth reply Eskil!!!

Very much appreciate you taking time to respond.

All the best
Brian
 

JJ

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Thanks for this! I used some of your advice and my Facebook CTR has gone from less than .01% to .031% within a few minutes.

I know that's nothing to write home about but it's cool to see it improve.
 
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Eskil

Eskil

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Thanks for this! I used some of your advice and my Facebook CTR has gone from less than .01% to .023% within a few minutes.

I know that's nothing to write home about but it's cool to see it improve.
Glad to hear I could be of help! :)
 

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