Leveraging PPC Methods to Boost Conversions

Successful pay-per-click (PPC) management is a tricky trade because of the exploitability of the usual transactional structure. PPC is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a model of internet advertising where marketers pay a specific fee per visit every time their ad is clicked within a publisher’s website. It’s not hard to imagine that this often leads to situations where ads amass low-conversion rates and high click-through rates (CTR), meaning that people are likely to click on the ad, but ultimately don’t end up spending money on anything.

This is the key difference in the approach of PPC methods that departs from other online marketing approaches – the monetization occurs at the visitation step rather than a display that directly attempts to convert users. So, the success of PPC centers on delivering a user to a website’s landing page while also covertly ensuring that they hold an intention to fulfill some conversion objective. It’s the difference between the hard-selling a car salesman does and the action of handing someone your business card and leaving them to make the decision.

When you get into the meat of the issue surrounding the management of a successful PPC campaign, you’ll find that creating PPC ads that are targeted and that lead visitors to useful landing pages leads to the best conversion results. Let’s explore how you might organize marketing information to produce a greater PPC-based conversion in a reliable, reproducible manner.

The Playing Field

Getting acquainted with the details of PPC some of its basic terminology and the major companies dominating most PPC venues is a crucial first step towards implementing an effective PPC campaign. As a brief overview, some of the most important terms that are relevant here are click-through rate (CTR), quality score, cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA), and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Most of these terms are described by a ratio of two numbers. For instance, CTR is the ratio of ads clicks to the number of impressions (the number of people who visit a publisher’s page and see your link); quality score is a metric used by PPC platforms such as Google AdWords that takes a number of factors such as keyword relevance into account to determine the “quality” of PPC ad; CPC builds on numbers such as quality score, maximum bid, and competitor ad rank. A more detailed explanation of each of these terms and how they are calculated can be found here.

Now, the biggest player in the PPC ads field is Google Adwords. The metrics mentioned above embody the key stats that Adwords uses to determine the relevance and quality of ads and then assign appropriate rankings to those ads based on the keywords a marketer has input. The Adwords system is distinct from flat-rate PPC monetization structures and it instead relies on a bidding-based structure where the ads linked to specific keywords are ranked and auctioned off.

Figure 1: Example PPC ad placement by Google Adwords that follows the bidding monetization structure.

AD Placement by Google Adwords

How To Link PPC With Conversions

Once you wrap your head around the basic aspects of PPC and its terminology, we can expand that knowledge to encompass more complex, directed results such designing PPC in a way that benefits conversion rate. There are three key characteristics generally predicate the success of a PPC ad when it comes to Google AdWords: (1) keyword relevance, (2) landing page quality, and (3) quality score. These characteristics can be thought of as a measure of how users perceive your ad and then act on the contextual information offered in the ad once they land on your website.

Remember how PPC approximates a business card in the brevity and impactfulness of its presentation format. This means that PPC ads often occupy the attentive periphery of visitor browsing a page, and that the success of the ad hinges on the voluntary actions and first impression of the individual. Therefore, all of the measures marketers should take towards raising conversion rates should really be aimed towards measuring and determining the intersection between words and their perceived meaning by a general observer.

If you consider each of the three key points above, you’ll find that each plays a role narrowing function. For instance, within keyword relevance there is a concept known as negative keywords which refers to the unwanted semantic overlap that inevitably occurs for any set of words in a phrase. The principle of having a pertinent landing page is also fundamental to the success of your ads. This follows from the notion that users will have an expectation after reading the content of an ad. How closely that expectation or impression they develop matches with the landing page will undoubtedly determine the chances of a successful conversion.