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Why you must get people to act not just click in Pay per click campaigns?
During this year's Comic Relief, David Tennant made an impassioned plea from a hospital in Uganda. He's a popular guy and many tuned in to watch. However the clear objective of the video was not to entertain, it was to get donations. Did it work? After his video was broadcast, the phone lines went into melt down as donations poured in.

When you pay for advertising are you clear on your objective?
Specifically in a Pay per click (PPC) campaign, success should be measured not by the number of clicks but the number of clicks that convert to sales.

What is a Pay per click advertising campaign?
PPC is a form of online advertising used to sell products and services. As the name suggests, you pay for the number of clicks on your online advertisement rather than a fee or monthly charge for the advert. The ads are short and you bid on keywords relevant to your target market e.g. leather handbags. The more popular the keywords the higher the bidding goes. For more about PPC advertising see this useful run down.

There are a number of providers of PPC advertising. Google is the most well known. You'll notice their pay per click ads down the right hand side and highlighted at the top, when Google returns your search results.

PPC advertising is popular because apparently it is easy to measure the response rate. You just count the clicks, right? Wrong.

How do you measure success?
When you pay for advertising you need to be absolutely clear about the outcome you want. Without that clarity how can you measure the success of a campaign? The purpose of PPC advertising is to get people to convert into customers not just visitors to your site.

You want people to ask for a sample or a quote, make a booking, or buy products. Yet you'd be surprised how many people measure success simply by how many clicks they get. Clicks put money in Google's bank account, not necessarily in yours.

Clicks are just clicks, they aren't sales.

If your paid advertising results in clicks but no action, you've wasted your precious advertising budget. The way to measure the success of a PPC campaign is to count the 'conversions' i.e. the number of sales, bookings, subscriptions or quote enquiries you received as a direct result of the ad.

Google provides tools to help you track the conversion of visits generated by your Pay per click campaigns.

Don't we want people to click?
Yes you want people to click but that's not the end goal. Every click costs you money. The click is just following a link - like a link road between two parts of a city. The link gets you from one part of the city to the other but what you do when you get there is determined by the intention behind the journey. The question is what made you take that link road?

In pay per click advertising, the intention is set up by the words you use in your advert. People click because they like what they read and you've whetted their appetite. People act because what they find when they click through matches up to their expectations. That means your link must go to a page that makes it easy for the reader to act. Can they book now, add to cart or ask for a quote or do they have to search around to do that? Don't make it difficult.

The researchers - a big no no in PPC advertising
Many people use the internet to do research before they buy. They might be researching printers or holidays. They'll be looking for reviews, specifications etc. If you encourage these web researchers to click on your pay per click advert, you're paying Google for clicks from people who are NOT ready to buy yet.

What do I mean by this?
This is not to say you don't want the researchers to visit your site. You do. They usually convert to buyers at some point, you just don't want to pay out unnecessarily to get them there. You can attract them through e.g. article writing, regular e-newsletters, blog posts or online reviews of your product or service. None of these incur costs per click. Don't waste your PPC budget on researchers.

How do you avoid getting the researchers to your site via PPC?
Think about the journey you take when you're looking into a product or service. The research stage is about gathering as much information as possible. You want to know your options, pros and cons, different models, finishes, added extras and so on. When you're ready to buy you have different priorities: trust, uniqueness, price, offers, delivery, quality, guarantees or service.

For example if you sell office products. You need targeted campaigns that get right to the heart of the buyers' concerns e.g.

Discount Office stationery
Office stationery sale. 50% off all items plus FREE delivery. Hurry ends 30th June.

Those who are still trying to decide between teak or cherry wood desks, won't click on your site.

What does this mean in practice?
To get people to click and act rather than just read and click you need to construct your campaign carefully. Here are some guidelines:

What's the objective?
What specifically do you want people to do after they read the advert? If your objective is vague, you'll get a vague i.e. unmeasurable response.
'Visit my website' - vague
'Book an off season holiday' - specific

Who do you want to attract?
Attract the right audience:
1. Who they are e.g. families
2. What stage they are at in their research. Remember people use the internet to do research before they buy. If you want bookings you need to attract those who have done the research and know exactly what they want.
3. Research key phrases that your target audience would be using when they're ready to buy, e.g. 'discounted Autumn break Pembrokeshire'.
4. Convey the specific benefits of your product or service e.g. If you welcome more than one dog in your cottage, then say so e.g. Title: 'Dog friendly holiday cottages. 2+ dogs? No problem. Large fenced exercise area'.
5. Create a targeted, headline to hook the reader.
Thinking about the needs of your reader and how your product or service meets those needs, will help you craft a targeted advert that contains relevant key words e.g. Dog friendly short breaks in West Wales.

Where do you want to send the reader?
To my home page - makes the reader work to get to the sales page.
To the Booking page - make it easy to book

What do you need to tell the reader to do (the 'call to action')?
'Get in touch' - vague idea.
'Book your off season holiday here' [insert clickable link] - specific instruction

Remember the purpose of online advertising is to get people to act not just read and click. If you are running PPC campaigns, go now and spend 10 minutes analysing your adverts. Are you attracting the right people, are you telling them what to do, are you making it easy to do it?
Contributor: Juliet Fay @

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