When PPC Doesn’t Work (and yes, I have the ads turned on)

Have you ever had a client who did NOT do well in PPC? I have one now, and here’s why I don’t think that it’s simply my being an idiot (although it doesn’t help the case) that’s causing the ads to perform poorly: I’ve been able to do well in every other paid campaign that I’ve ever run. Really well, in many cases, with seriously high conversion rates and excellent ROI. However, I can’t crack this nut.

There are obviously industries that perform best in certain arenas, whether it be organic listings, paid listings, billboards, magazine ads, etc. radio spots, etc. However, I’m on a quest to figure out what I could try to make sure I’m doing everything possible to drive relevant traffic to this client’s site so I wanted to dive headfirst into PPC demographics. Obviously I’m diving in headfirst. How else would you dive?

Anyway, here’s what I can find easily…different people use different engines. Well well well, who knew? Other than that, I can’t find much concrete data to support my half-baked idea about how this one client is not traditionally sought out by people using the internet to find their services. However, does that mean that this is an impossible dream? We’ve had a few conversions, which tells me that there are at least a few (um, 3 to be exact) people who are getting the message.

Here’s something to compound the problem, too: I don’t have access to their analytics. Sure, I can request a report but it’s not the same as being right there in it on a daily basis. I also don’t have the ability to throw tracking code up all over the site, or mess with anything other than meta tags for various reasons. So what DO I have? I have a nice relevant landing page with a contact us form that gets filled out. The contact us form gives a user everything he or she needs in terms of information to provide in order to receive an accurate quote. It really is a lovely form too. I have a nice concise ad that gives a user relevant info, quick and simple. The URL is that of a trusted company in the US and abroad, too. But I’m getting nothing.

I’ve asked the other SEO Chicks/brainiacs about this as well, and they’ve had some excellent insight ranging from the slower conversion cycle for B2B ads to the notion that many B2B “shoppers” will search online and then call or come by in person to do business to my aforementioned half-baked idea of this truly not being a traditional industry that attracts online users. However, does that mean that this is going to be impossible? Are there really some industries that simply do not, at least not at this time, do well online? Can anything be done about it?

So in a post about how to get more user comments, it was suggested that the writer ASK for input. I’m asking…if anyone has ANY advice for me on this one, please let me know. I would be most appreciative.

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12 Responses to “When PPC Doesn’t Work (and yes, I have the ads turned on)”

  1. Dave Davis says:

    First of all, as you know, you are extremely limited without analytics. Ask your client can you have FTP access to a /ppc/ directory and you can do what you want in there without impacting anything else on the site. You can install analytics and post data back to the main site.

    What about setting up a new phone number (easy with skype) and using that number on your landing page to make sure that you know at least SOME action is being taken.

  2. Julie Joyce says:

    Good idea actually…the phone number thing is quite a brilliant thing to try. At least that way we would indeed know that someone’s interested.

  3. Dave Davis says:

    And worst case scenario, you only wasted a few dollars for teh 3 month skypein number.

    If you could give more details on the category of product, it might generate some more ideas?

  4. Julie Joyce says:

    It’s logistics actually…transportation. Not too glamorous but quite profitable.

  5. bernard says:

    I suppose you have done this already: get a list of incoming links to their website including search terms and check the search data for both the incoming links as well as the search terms for the website itself. That should give you some relevant info.

  6. Julie Joyce says:

    Bernard! I do have data on incoming links and all that. The client tends to rank very well on a lot of terms and, overall, they do really well. It’s just that we cannot qualify the PPC numbers. We’ve had issues with conversion tracking not working as well. We are spending the budget, getting a decent clickthrough rate, but we’re not showing conversions (and we do have the tracking code working now!)

    You have definitely given me a new idea to try though…I will see if they can give me a list of referring links from their web metrics. Actually, maybe I’ll overwhelm them with report requests and just go through all of it to see if I’m missing any critical keyphrases.

    Any Sisters of Mercy news?

  7. Dave Davis says:

    If you can get granular analytics data, even once off try segmenting users and creating personas for those converting segments. I know it’s time consuming but probably will pay off.

  8. bernard says:

    Might seem idiot, but what would prevent them from using the google conversion analytics?

    For sisters of mercy news, check this, I update it as much as I can: http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=26769_0_2_0_C

  9. Julie Joyce says:

    @Dave…good suggestion actually. I’ll speak to them about that one. They’re certainly willing to work with me as long as I stay within their parameters haha.

    @Bernard: the Google conversion code is on there for PPC BUT we don’t have anything set up for Google analytics. I’ll suggest that. They run Urchin and don’t like to do anything that requires putting code into the site. You can see I’m working with very little here haha but your suggestion is good stuff and I’ll definitely try that one on them.

    Thanks for the link! I am going to go listen to Dominion now.

  10. bernard says:

    Good luck, I would have given up on such a client… they obey by the rules of analytics or I don’t even start :)

  11. Wow… this is going to be a tough nut to crack. Without enough analytics I also would have given up.

    I hope you succeed or figure out a way to track. I like the skype number suggestion

  12. Christian says:

    Looks like i am at the end of this thread, but i thought i would add my two cents:)

    To answer your first question, I’ve encountered many paid search campaigns that don’t perform up to par. I think its fair to say that internet is not “one size fits all” solution for every business model.

    However, i believe that PPC advertising is a powerful too to test the business model’s validity. If you are already having issues, then im not sure all the analytics in the world is going to help because they are probably experiencing similar conversion issues throughout the whole site. Otherwise, why would they hired you in the first place right? :)

    In my experience, poor conversion is usually tied to the landing page/website and not the advertising. Here are a few items i would check:

    1. Make sure you have a unique phone number on the landing page (a lot of visitors call instead of filling out a form, especially when its a high ticket item)
    2. Look at the landing page… is it compelling? have you looked at their competitors?
    3. Review the contact form. Does it have too many fields? I’ve seen a lot of forms that look like you need an engineering degree to fill them out:)

    Lastly, ask the client lots of questions like: whats your sales cycle like? How much is your cost per lead in other mediums? whats your close rate, ect. The point is that what you are experiencing might just be in the cards.

    And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to call it quits and move on. There are plenty of other workable models out there that need attention too!


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