A Slippered Urbana Test Ride and a New PPC Marketing Strategy

I’ve become inspired to try out a new Pay-Per-Click strategy. And I’m posting my notes and thoughts right here on our blog for all of you to read or more likely ignore right after thinking something like “there goes Josh rambling on again”. Actually, I’m posting them here because I was going to write these thoughts as notes to myself anyway and being that we’re in the share-all-age of the social web, I figured I might as well post them where I might get some feedback. That and I’m less likely to loose my notes as well as write them more clearly if they are published.

Melanie Lipton Testing an Urbana Current E-Bike in Slippers – This Photo Has Nothing to do with PPC Marketing
I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last five years jumping in and out of focus on various Pay-Per-Click strategies. I like to classify this relatively new method of marketing as outreach. PPC is a strong way to reach out and bring people into a business. But at the end of the day, from the direction of making the Campfire Cycling into the leading online bicycle accessory experts, I’ve always felt that content is king. I’ve aspired to create the very best quality content organizing it well and presenting it with great layouts and photography. That’s what I believe in for the continued growth and success of this business and what I hope our websites demonstrates now and continues to improve upon moving forward.With content at the center, I still need to bring in customers to benefit from and support it. As the business grows and the content becomes a force of its own, I hope that PPC marketing can be a smaller and smaller portion of our focus while generating the best expert content becomes a bigger and bigger portion of our focus. Other forms of outreach such as Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization will continue on as vital components within this focus, as these marketing forms ride on the strength of content and are often content creators in themselves. They also are more organic and can be more internalized to the expertise of an organization. Pay-Per-Click marketing, at the end of the day, always has to be paid for which is dollars in the pocket of Goliaths outside of the organization.I’ve used the massive outreach of the Goliaths of Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, MSN AdCenter and related networks to grow this business and will continue to rely on their massive and easy to use systems to support our growth. But now, I aspire to be less dependent on it them as our internal strengths do more and more to bring customers in. As I hope to continue to shift the business’s focus more and more towards content, I’ve been thinking about how to strategically use PPC marketing in a way that is maintainable, not to draining and maybe even kind of fun. I want to wean the business a bit from growing on the back of PPC marketing, but not end the relationship’s already established value.Let me note that I’m torn between using the term Pay-Per-Click Marketing and simply Paid Internet Market as I think the latter is more broadly representative of what I’m talking about here yet the former is the commonly used term.In diving into a variety of PPC campaigns, I’ve noted that I generally feel compelled to take on a great deal of expertise and knowledge especially when it comes to Google AdWords. While I feel like this expertise and knowledge has been beneficial in gaining an overall understanding in how to use this network and other PPC networks, I’ve reached a point where the level of expertise required to delve even deeper into maximizing my AdWords campaigns is yielding a diminishing return on investment. I feel at this point that to really squeeze every dollar out of our PPC marketing campaigns, I would have to invest time and effort that I would really prefer to focus on enriching our expert content.My goal in strategizing an approach to PPC, is to figure out how to make the most of my current level of knowledge in it, without being further drawn into its tantalizing webs.In my use of Google AdWords and the other related PPC marketing networks, I’ve generally seen the best gains by figuring out well thought out yet essentially simple strategies and then systematically and widely deploying them. Whenever I’ve gotten into more complex strategies, the amount of work required to maintain has made them very time intensive. Another pattern that has emerged is that I will try a new campaign, really dig in for awhile and then loose momentum. When I come back after some time, either I’ll find out if the campaign is doing well not. If it is doing well at this point it is simple to maximize it further. If it is struggling, it is generally easy to trim it back to the portions that are performing well.With this in mind my overall plan moving forward with PPC Marketing is as follows:

  1. Only utilize networks that I have full visibility of my ROI so I can easily make decisions.
  2. Focus the majority of efforts on setting up, running and expanding well organized campaigns which include weekly checkups to avoid problem areas.
  3. After running the campaign for 6 months to a year maximize what’s working and trim back what is not.
  4. Trim back by identifying campaigns that are struggling and pausing all keywords except those with high ROI.
  5. Maximize by turning up spends and ads on campaigns with high ROI.
  6. Look to expand within current networks and try out new networks that offer the ability to do all of the above.
  7. Stay aware of more advanced strategies and perhaps experiment, but only deploy those ones that really seem broadly and easily maintainable.

I should note that this overall strategy takes both patience and a strong understanding of the fundamentals of PPC marketing as well as a skeptical surveyors knowledge of the peripheries of PPC marketing so as to avoid the time sink pitfalls but not miss the prime opportunities.   

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