I have something to tell you and it may come as a surprise: you can’t run a successful business using PPC alone. Sure, it’ll help – a lot if it’s done the right way. PPC can drive traffic and conversions and give a ton of insight about the products and services you sell and your target audience’s interests.
Our most successful clients all have something in common:
- They are not afraid to spend and invest in their business.
- They have great products at fair prices.
- They have great customer service.
- They have solid websites that look good and are easy to use.
So let’s talk about the attributes that make PPC clients more than buyers of online advertising, but actual brands.
1. They are not afraid to invest in their business.
A lot of businesses focus on the cost and not the value. And while we all have budgets, we have to work to understand the value of something.
For example, you might be able to get a website made from someone for next to nothing. And it might look great on the outside, but you soon find out the infrastructure is all wrong, and it doesn’t have the functionality you need for a healthy online business, long term.
You can apply this scenario and fill in the blanks for anything your business pays money for, whether it’s a piece of machinery you might need or your marketing efforts. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for.
Some people love to tell business owners their opinions on what they invest in. For every marketing service you’re looking at, someone will have a horror story, a success story, offer you ideas on what they think is a better way of doing something or where they found the same thing for cheaper.
The best thing you can do is make informed decisions about where you invest your money. Look at the vendor, product or service with a critical eye, and weigh it against the factors that are important to not only you, but also your customer.
Because the value of anything you invest in ultimately gets passed to your customer, and is a direct reflection of your brand.
So don’t be afraid to try things you think might be valuable to your business. That old cliché, “you have to spend money to make money,” is true. Focus less on the dollar amount you’re spending and more on what you and your customers are getting from it.
To start, try setting up a test budget for your company’s marketing, and be willing to invest a certain amount into growing your business each month. If it’s not working, think about if there’s ways to make it better. If it’s time to move on, you’ll know. But those are valuable lessons learned that you can take with you to your next investment.
2. They have great products and fair prices.
This is just another ingredient to the secret formula of business success. If you’re selling a not-so-great product at a higher price, and your competitors are beating you, don’t be surprised.
Take the time to know what your competitors are doing; market research is one component, online research is the other. Here’s some tips for research:
- In market research, you see what other businesses in your space are offering and at what price point. This can be comprised of all the businesses online and offline that offer products and services similar to yours. Be a detective if you have to, call up companies to better understand what they offer. Keep in mind when you’re looking at a weighted average that ecommerce ventures can most often cut costs because they don’t have the overhead of a brick and mortar.
- In online research, there are a few different ways to look at who you’re competing with. You’re either competing against those who share the same keywords in organic search, those who are bidding against your keywords in PPC, and those who have a community around their brand – a loyal customer base they’ve built.
But take care not to be hyperfocused on your competition, either. If you get too wrapped up in what they are doing, you can lose sight of your own unique value proposition.
For example, it’s not good to lose the shirt off your back because you’ve lowered your prices to beat your competition. There are other options. Instead, think about where else you can add value that perhaps your competitor doesn’t.
Sometimes adding something to the customer service side of your business can make all the difference in the world, because at the end of the day, you’re never going to be the only person offering the type of product or service you offer. One client of ours made a simple decision to switch to a flat-fee shipping model and saw great results with it.
So focus on your differentiators and highlight them. How is your business, product or service better or different than your competition?
3. They have great customer service.
What’s your policy for communicating with your customers? Do you have one? Setting processes for communication after the conversion is essential for not only building your brand, but also building a loyal customer base – one that comes to you time and time again to get what they need.
When’s the last time you went through the entire process of engaging with your company as a customer? Get an objective look at what happens from search to buy – and even after – by acting like a customer to see if there’s room for improvement.
And if you consistently offer great things to your customers, enable them to tell others about it. Trust is key in building business relationships, and people trust recommendations from others. Think about how you can collect customer feedback and incorporate it into the conversion funnel.
In the search world, people often tack on the word “reviews” into their queries for whatever it is they are looking for, like “Southwest Airlines reviews.” We see that a lot in our keyword research. And we know that reviews are trust signals that can increase conversions. So figure out ways to leverage this via special campaigns and landing pages.
You can also use customer feedback to enhance your operations. Check in with customers from time to time to see how you’re doing, and how you can improve. Simple surveys like those from Survey Monkey can be a great tool in this area.
4. They have solid websites that look good and are easy to use.
Usability issues can negatively impact your organic search success, your paid search success and your conversion rate – basically any marketing efforts you’ve put into driving people to your site can be lost if you have a site that doesn’t offer a good user experience.
In PPC, there’s this thing called Quality Score, and one of the components is landing page quality. One of the aspects in landing page quality is that your site offers a great experience for users.
In organic search, there are other factors in search engine algorithms that weigh your site against the competition in order to be found in the search results. If your site is not focused on making the user experience good, you can quickly lose out against them.
And in terms of conversion, a site that’s not easy to use can ensure you lose that lead or sale. For example, we’ve seen site owners sometimes neglect to monitor the pages on their site for maintenance. One particular client who always had great return on PPC saw sales decline suddenly and rapidly, but couldn’t figure out why.
After some investigating, using the method I talked about in the previous section of acting as the customer, we found that the conversion buttons on those pages had gone missing, so no one could take an action.
Be Your Brand Online
Look at your company, its unique attributes and how it provides value to your customer. Enhance and highlight those differentiators online, every opportunity you can. Don’t be afraid to invest in something that can pay dividends in the long run. Always look at improving your site, your process and your efforts.
And understand that PPC — or any other marketing effort — can’t “save” a business. It’s a fantastic component of your marketing mix, but successful companies look at their business holistically, and offer several things beyond the click that make it worth the customer’s time and money.
What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.