by John Eberhard

I think it would be fair to say that succeeding with a pay per click advertising campaign today is different than it was a year ago, and far different from how it was 3-4 years ago.

In short, it’s harder. But that’s not to say you can’t succeed with pay per click today, it simply means you have to know what you are doing, apply the right technology, and be patient. If you do that you can have a very successful campaign.


First why is it harder today than a year ago? Two reasons. One is more competition, meaning more advertisers coming into the market in any given city or region. With more competition, that means the bids are higher, and it is more of a challenge to differentiate yourself from the pack.

Secondly, I believe the economy is having an effect on it. Because my observation was it started getting harder to start up brand new campaigns after last fall and all the bad economic news.

The Solutions

Like I said, the current scene doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you have to work smarter.

Differentiation: With more competition in the marketplace, it is more vital than ever to differentiate your business from all the other companies. This is especially true in industries where there is a TON of competition online, such as dentists for instance. If you don’t differentiate yourself from the pack and your ads and landing page and web are really generic like everyone else out there, you’re dead.

You have to develop what’s called a “unique selling proposition” or USP, meaning a statement of who you are and what type of provider you are. Your USP should give the consumer a reason to choose YOU over the competition, or should establish you as a certain type of provider or as covering a certain niche.

Offer: Some companies think it is enough to just throw their ad up there and say “buy here” or “fill out this form for more information,” depending on whether they are selling something online or generating leads for salesmen. Often today, this is not enough. It is nearly always helpful to have a special offer to entice the person to respond.

If you are doing lead generation with your pay per click campaign, meaning generating leads for salesmen, usually for some high ticket item or service, you can often attract more people and generate increased leads with some sort of free information product, like a free white paper or report. Create a report on some topic directly related to your product or service, that contains 80-90% useful information, and 10-20% sales pitch at the end.

With lead generation you can also offer some relatively inexpensive item for free if the person signs up for the product or service. Preferably select something that has a high perceived value but doesn’t cost you an arm or a leg. I have seen this technique work extremely well right now.

If you are selling products directly online, you can offer some kind of discount, especially with a “buy now,” meaning the discount is only good up to a certain date.

You can also offer a free email newsletter, and it helps in this case to sweeten the pot with some kind of giveaway for signing up, whether this be a free eBook or report, or a free item drawing monthly.

Video and Audio: I have had excellent success with numerous campaigns by putting up a video or audio clip on the pay per click landing page. Putting up either a video or audio clip that plays when the page loads (but has a button to turn it off if the person wants) has always increased response to the campaign.

Landing Page: In most cases I have seen it be more successful to have the visitor land on a customized landing page on your site, that is specifically about what the campaign is about, has a phone number and form for them to fill out, and does not contain navigational buttons. In other words, it is better NOT to let the person wander around your site, but to keep their experience more focused on what you want them to do. The only cases where I have seen it work better with a landing page that has navigation is with a product or service that is very visual in nature and the prospect will want to look at a photo gallery.

This may seem counter-intuitive and a number of clients have questioned this, so in those cases I tested it with two landing pages, one with navigation and one without. In nearly every case it has worked better without navigation.

Patience: Patience is not a particularly common characteristic of people in this culture, much less with advertisers. Everybody wants instant gratification. But it is more vital now to be patient with a pay per click campaign, than it was say a year ago. You may have to experiment with factors in your campaign such as the ones mentioned above, in order to get the campaign working.

But the patience and extra work are worth it, because you can get a viable campaign going that will really be a big plus to your business. I have several clients who had successful campaigns going with the above points in, prior to the so-called economic downturn, and those campaigns have continued plugging right along without problems. Yours can too.