How to Avoid Dead-End Leads With PPC Advertising
Part of my job as the chief marketing officer at PostcardMania is to keep up with the performance of our pay-per-click (PPC) marketing efforts. One day, I checked in with our PPC expert to see how our lead generation was going. He told me that we had recently received (and had to pay for!) a lead coming from the search query "How to Get on McDonald's Mailing List."
I have news for you: That person isn't looking for targeted marketing lists to use for their direct mail marketing. That person is looking for coupons for cheeseburgers. So, we just paid for a lead that's nothing more than a dead end. We couldn't have any more of that! I decided to find a way to seal up our PPC campaigns to keep out those dead-end leads, leaving only the leads that are likely to bring in revenue.
Here how we did it:
1. Use negative keywords to keep away unqualified leads. In PPC advertising, you target certain keywords to show your ads to those who are already looking for your products or services. For example, a landscaping company shows ads to someone searching with keywords like "Lawn Care," "Landscaping Maintenance" or "Getting Better Curb Appeal." These are positive keywords, because you WANT the prospects that are using those keywords.
On the flip side, negative keywords are the queries used by someone you DON'T WANT because you know they're a dead-end lead. Continuing with our landscaping example, negative keywords would be phrases like "Landscaping pictures" or "Landscaping jobs." The people searching using those phrases have no interest in paying a landscaping company to design or maintain their outdoor spaces; they're simply looking for a nice outdoor picture or a job in the landscaping industry.
If you don't specify in your PPC campaign that you want to block these leads, they could easily find your ads because they're technically related to your industry. It's exactly what happened with our McDonald's lead. Because the words "mailing list" were in the search, they were shown our ad.
2. Use analytics and tracking to determine which campaigns and keywords are bringing in sales, not just leads. Once you establish more stringent parameters for your PPC keywords (including negative keywords), you need to keep up with the good leads you're getting to see which ones are actually leading to revenue. Tracking your PPC lead generation results helps you quantify the production of your ads — i.e., which keywords are really bringing in sales, not just semi-interested leads. Even if your ad isn't bringing in dead-end leads, it doesn't mean it's making you money. You have to be proactive about monitoring the effectiveness of your ads when it comes to revenue production to maximize your return on investment.
Dead-end leads could be draining profits from your PPC advertising. Learn from our experience! Use these two methods to seal up your PPC campaigns, and maximize the profits they yield.
Sarah Kicinski is the chief marketing officer of PostcardMania, a direct mail marketing firm. Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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