“Demystify Pay-per-Click!” Check Out My Podcast on TheMarketingSpot.com.

Recently I was interviewed by Jay Ehret from TheMarketingspot.com; His blog is themarketingspot.blogspot.com and they mainly focus on internet marketing for small businesses. This is the first time I’ve been interviewed in regards to pay-per-click advertising and it was a lot of fun talking to Jay and helping educate people on how effective pay-per-click advertising can be for small and large companies alike. Below is the interview but if you’d like to hear the interview via the podcast you can do so here. Enjoy!

You are listening to The Marketing Spot Blog Cast, the internet show about Small Business Marketing with your host Jay Ehret, Power to the Small Business.

Jay Ehret: My name is Jay Ehret, welcome to the power to the small business, my company is The Marketing Spot. A small business marketing firm in beautiful Waco, Texas, home of the Baylor Bears, my alma mater, which is back into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years sick bears, so I get to experience some real March Madness for a change. Our company website is themarketingspot.com, our award winning blog address is themarketingspot.blogspot.com, that is where you can here this podcast and read all of thoughts on Small Business Marketing, and all of a podcasts are also available for listening at themarketingspot.podomatic.com. You can also subscribe to the blog via iTunes by typing “Power to the Small Business” in the search box and there it is. Enough about me though, let’s tackle the sticky subject of search engine marketing and Pay-Per-Click. Should you do it? How does it work? We are about to find out!

Our guest today is Amber Benedict. She is a search marketing consultant for Hanapin Marketing. They are located in Bloomington, Indiana. She also writes for the blog ppchero.com, which mainly focuses on PPC strategies of Pay-Per-Click strategies. She previously worked for the Finish line corporate office, coordinating marketing programs for FinishLine.com, but she mainly managed their email marketing programs. She went to Indiana University and graduated with a degree in Informatics and a certificate in Computer Science.

Amber, welcome to The Marketing Spot, Power to the Small Business.

Amber Benedict: Thank you very much!

Jay Ehret: So we already heard acronym PPC, what is PPC and what is a PPC campaign?

Amber Benedict: Pay per click or PPC is a way of advertising online through major search engines like google, yahoo, msn, ask.com, etc.. It’s keyword based, so you buy keywords that are relevant to your business, and when someone types in that particular keyword, your ad will show. PPC ads show up on the right hand of the search results, otherwise known as sponsored ads.

Jay Ehret: Now, why would a business want to use a Pay-Per-Click campaign Amber, you got the normal what they call Organic Search Results, is it better to try and be listed in those or what is the value of Pay-Per-Click campaign anyway?

Amber Benedict: Organic listings are great, because they are free, but it’s much harder to rank higher in organic listings. It can take a long time, there is a lot of backend work that you have to do on your site to try and rank higher. For paid ads or pay-per-click, it’s on a cost per click basis, so you are paying for each click you receive, but you can setup your campaign, keywords, and ad text and within 20 minutes you are already getting traffic to your site. So it is really fast, and you can pay to be in a higher position versus trying to rank higher naturally.

Jay Ehret: Now, what types of small business do you think might need or might use Pay-Per-Click campaigns?

Amber Benedict: Really any small business that wants to promote their products/services through their website. Millions are people are performing searches every day – if you’re not online at this point your missing out on a lot of potential extra business

Jay Ehret: And even for local businesses do you think it is okay for local business to do Pay-Per-Click campaigns?

Amber Benedict: Oh, absolutely. I mean within Google you can target locally, globally and nationally. So, if you have a little coffee shop in Indianapolis, you can set up a PPC campaign to only target people who are searching in the Indianapolis area. That way people who are in Texas won’t be able to click on your ad and cost you money when they will likely never visit your coffee shop. It’s important for even small companies to be online at this day and age…people aren’t really using their local yellow book much anymore.

Jay Ehret: Right, Google is taking over the old yellow pages books aren’t they?

Amber Benedict: Oh, absolutely, those big yellow books are definitely becoming somewhat extinct.

Jay Ehret: Was interesting you make that point about local search, Amber, because I do know a local dry cleaner in the Waco, Texas area. He actually just decided to try it on his own, he was interested in it. He tried a little Pay-Per-Click campaigns and for a local dry cleaner and he gets I forgot exactly how many hits he gets a months, but it is worth at him, he sends people to his website to print of his coupon and he sees the result when people come into the store. So he is very happy with his Pay-Per-Click campaign.

Amber Benedict: Oh, yeah, that is great, I mean especially if he can do some kind of promotion like that, where you can offer coupons or discounts that they can print off and bring in store. Obviously there are lot of people who go online to do their research and then go offline to actually purchase. So, it is good for companies who have an e-commerce site where you can purchase online, but also for customers who do their research online but like to purchase in-store. A lot of the larger companies like to do PPC for branding reasons as well. They just want to be in front of their customers as much as possible. And PPC is great for that as well.

Jay Ehret: We will talk in just a second about how you get started doing this Pay-Per- Click campaign if you want to do them, but right now want to put you on the hot spot, would you please give us the four most important things we need to know, a small business on needs to know if we are going to do a Pay-Per-Click campaign?

Amber Benedict: Okay. Number one, you have to have a good website and a good landing page. A landing page is the page that you take your customers to from your PPC ad, and it is not always the home page. Your landing page needs to be informational and it needs to be easy to navigate through. Also make sure it’s clear what steps you want visitors to take. If you want somebody to come to your website and fill out a form or download a white paper, or just purchase something, make sure it is clear when they get to that page that is what you want them to do. I mean you don’t have to come right out and say it, but have your information on one side of the page and the form on another side of the page and make sure, if you have a ‘submit’ button, that it’s visible! Having a good landing page will definitely help your quality score, which is whole other subject really.

Jay Ehret: Okay, good website and the good landing page.

Amber Benedict: Correct. The second, as with any marketing campaign you need to know you target audience. You can target a specific age group or specific genders, like we talked about before, your specific location. You can target just to in the city of Indianapolis or you can target to the State of Indiana, East Coast, West Coast, nationally or globally. Make sure you are targeting the right people. And number three, is keyword research and it is probably a term that a lot of people hear in don’t understand. Basically, what you want to do, you are trying to drive traffic to your website, but you want to drive quality traffic to your website, you don’t want to just get anybody there. You have to find keywords that are most relevant and targeted for your products and services.

Jay Ehret: Okay, keyword research, number three.

Amber Benedict: Yes. Number four, I would say PPC ads, your ad text. Your ad text is what your customers will see when they type in your keywords. Your ads should set you apart from all of your competitors and hopefully grab that customer and allow them to say, ‘this ad answers my question’ whether they’re looking for red heels or a new HD tv. So, it is really important to you do not miss lead anyone in your ad, because if they are going to click through, you want them to know exactly what they want, if it is not what they want and you are just going to leave your site and it is going to cost you money and leave you with a low return on your investment.

Jay Ehret: Well let’s go ahead and recap. The top four things Amber thinks you should know. If you want to do Pay-Per-Click campaign is a good website, with a good landing page. Number two is know your target audience, number three was keyword research and number four was your ad text. And let us go back to the keyword research Amber, because we hear a lot about keywords. How do we find the best ones? How do we find right keywords?

Amber Benedict: If you have an analytics package that’s a good place to start. Google Analytics is free once you setup a Google PPC AdWords account. Analytic packages can tell you the keywords that people type in. So, that is a great way to start, but there are also a lot of other free keyword research tools out there. Google is one of them, Yahoo has one of them, keyword discovery, wordtracker, they all have free versions. Just as a general example, if I have a website and I sell dog food, obviously I know I want to a bid on the keyword dog food, but it is pretty general. So, if I have organic dog food or something else more specific, you can type in a few of those keywords and those keyword tools are going to give you a huge list, of potential keywords that could be relevant to your site. They can also show you approximately how much search traffic that each keyword can get and approximately how much it is going to cost you. At that point you can figure out which keywords are going to drive the most traffic. But still the most important thing is to make sure, those keywords are relevant to your products and to your services. If the keyword is not relevant, you don’t want to have the keyword organic dog food, if you don’t sell organic dog food, you are just going to be pulling people in and then disappointing them, because you don’t have what they want. So, it is very important to get that list of keywords, figure out which keywords are going to drive the right traffic and hopefully give you the right return on your investment.

Jay Ehret: Okay, so that is how we find the best keywords for our business, so we picked our keywords, we’ve got our landing page, how do we get started doing a Pay-Per-Click campaign?

Amber Benedict: If you have a basic understanding of ppc and feel confident enough to try it on your own, I would start with google Adwords. You pay a $5 start up fee, after that you can begin loading keywords into your account and writing ad text. You can also set a daily budget so you can keep your spending in line. Once you have everything set up, within about 20 minutes you’ll be up and running.

Jay Ehret: So we just go to Google AdWords and you feel like it is pretty intuitive from that point, we can just go ahead and proceed?

Amber Benedict: Yeah, once you enter your building information and your personal information it takes you on a step–by-step process for the rest. It allows you to enter your ad with your landing page and then you load your keywords. The next step is to bid on your keywords in which they have tools that help you decide how much you should bid on each keyword and then you can pretty much activate your ads after that.

Jay Ehret: Why does that sound so easy Amber, when we read all these blogs and all the stories and it seems a lot more difficult than that when we read all these articles, why do you just make it sound so easy, is it really that easy?

Amber Benedict: Well, it may be easy to set up, but not so easy to manage. If you are putting a lot of money towards this and you really want to get the best ROI possible, then obviously you are going to need somebody to dedicate a lot of time to it. It is one thing to start up a PPC campaign, but it is another thing to manage it and manage it well. We manage our clients accounts on a daily basis, we are in there on a daily basis to make sure that everything is in line, to make sure that we are getting the most quality traffic to our clients website and not go over budget.

Jay Ehret: So an individual small business owner could go straight from listening to this podcast a Google AdWords and in about 15 minutes they could have a Pay-Per-Click campaign go on, right?

Amber Benedict: They could, now whether or not they get quality traffic and a good return on investment is dependent on many factors. That is usually where reading our blog or consulting a PPC expert it going to help.

Jay Ehret: We are talking with Amber Benedict, she is the Search Marketing Consultant for Hanapin Marketing and she is also co-author of the PPC Hero blog, so if someone decided they do need some help, Amber, with her PPC campaigns or the Pay-Per-Click campaigns, why would someone hire search marketing consultant and what do you think people should look for, if they are going to consider hiring a search marketing consultant?

Amber Benedict: Well, I think that there are a lot of small businesses out there, but there are a lot of small business that know that online advertising is something that they need to be doing, so a lot of times people will put for a large budget and I think in our case, you don’t have a huge budget, that is the great thing about Pay-Per-Click, is that you could spend $5000 a month or you could spend $20 a month. So, if you know that you don’t have time to manage it on daily basis, it could very well get out of control, so I think that is when hiring a PPC consultant or PPC firm, can definitely help. We have website that they are not just, we have clients that aren’t just looking to drive traffic to their site, they are looking for actual sales and that is – one of my client that I work on every day, I am just constantly in account adjusting big rewriting ad text, organizing a new account, but I am just trying to optimize it to where I can get the most revenue for them as possible.

Jay Ehret: But yeah, Amber what do you look for, I want to hire a search marketing consultant to, give me some signs I should look for?

Amber Benedict: Obviously referrals are good way to hire a PPC firm, but I would say a firm that is open and honest with you. For all our clients if they want to, we will give them access into their accounts. So, at anytime they can login and just start digging around in their account, they can review their ad text that we have been writing, they can view their keywords, the amount that each keyword is costing them, etc. So, it is very open and I think that is very important. If you interview a ppc company who is not willing to give you information on your own account, it’s almost as if they’re hiding something. We are going to tell you the good and the bad, we are going to tell you areas where improvement is needed, but most of all we are just going to be very open and honest with you.

Jay Ehret: You did not say you are going to tell us the ugly though, I was the waiting Clint Eastwood music to come on that…

Amber Benedict: oh yea, well hopefully there won’t be any ugly.

Jay Ehret: Amber, you recommended Google AdWords, but there is also Yahoo out there, what is the determining factor on who you should go with or should you go with both and are there others? How should a small business decide which one to go with?

Amber Benedict: Obviously, Google is the largest. I think their interface is probably the easiest to use. But we like to start with both Google and Yahoo for all of our clients. Sometimes we will use MSN as well. There is lot of theories out there that Yahoo is mainly for women or that Google is mainly for college age people and MSN is for older people. What you need to do is just figure out which one works best for you. I would say Google by far drives the most traffic for all of our clients, but I have a few clients where Yahoo actually out performs Google, not in terms of driving the most traffic, but driving the best sales. It’s really a matter of testing them out and seeing which one works best for you.

Jay Ehret: That is pretty interesting that they are starting to segment search engines by demographics. Amber, someone wants to learn more about Pay-Per-Click, Search Marketing, PPC Hero, Hanapin Marketing where should they go, or what would you say them?

Amber Benedict: Well, if you want to learn more about Pay-Per-Click that is what our blog talks about, we don’t talk too much about specific SEO strategies, just PPC. It is mainly Pay-Per-Click, so PPC Hero is definitely a good start so you can always contact us though PPC Hero or you can go to hanapinmarketing.com as well, and learn about the different services that we offer.

Jay Ehret: PPC, now you know what it means, you know a little bit about it, Amber, thanks for the education tray that was really informative.

Amber Benedict: Great, thank you!

Jay Ehret: Alright, remember to check out Amber’s blog along with her team mates she is one of three co-authors of the PPC Hero blog it is ppchero.com and Amber thanks for joining us, I will be looking for more of your posts.

Amber Benedict: Alright, thank you so much!

Jay Ehret: That was Amber Benedict, Search Marketing Consultant for Hanapin Marketing, co-author of the PPC Hero blog. We will take a quick time out, we will come back with some thoughts on search marketing for small business, before we rant this show up.

Jay Ehret: So, now you know what PPC is Pay-Per-Click, but do you know whether or not you should try it. I think that depends on what you want your website to accomplish, are you trying to sell stuff on your website, then yes, you should probably invest money in the PPC campaign, but you don’t have to be selling stuff to want to use PPC. There are other reasons you have give the example of the dry cleaner, who just wanted people to print of his coupons, so used some PPC, some Pay-Per-Click. If you have a website that gives a lot of valuable information and you want to develop a large following as a thought leader. You might consider using search engine marketing. Remember that PPC works for local search too. You can limit your search terms to your local market. So, if some one is searching say for storage units, they are going to type in something like “storage unit, Bloomington, Indiana” in the Google search box. If you are new and not listed organically, then it might benefit you to do a Pay-Per-Click campaign. It is great to be listed in the organic results, but if you are not there, it can take a while to get there, even it was some good search engine optimization. Now on the other hand if your website just serves as an online brochure or information place order then no you probably don’t want to do any search marketing, but whatever you do, start slow, don’t jump in and go hog wild. Spend 50 bucks or 100 bucks before you drop a couple of grand to drive some traffic. Get to know what you are doing first, get comfortable with it. If your budget is large enough or your purpose is important enough or may be you are limited on the amount of time you can spend on the campaign, you may want to use a PPC consultant like Hanapin Marketing, but the most important question you need to ask first of all is “what do you want from your website?” and I think that will lead you to the correct decision.

Thanks to Amber Benedict of Hanapin Marketing for helping us demystify Pay-Per-Click, PPC today on the big show. You can get more of Amber’s advice by going to ppchero.com that is ppchero.com, dive in out there in the brave new world, well not so new anymore of search engine marketing and Pay-Per-Click and don’t forget to leave your questions or comments on our blog, The Marketing Spot. It is at themarketingspot.blogspot.com, our company web address is themarketingspot.com and I am Jay Ehret, your humble host, Chief Stewart of The Marketing Spot. It will be a couple of weeks before our next show, as I am of to Brazil to visit some relatives in vacation, but we have got some really cool gasp already lined up for April. So, remember to subscribe to us at iTunes just search for Power to the Small Business and then join us for the next episode. It is the internet show that is all about Small Business Marketing, Power to the Small Business.