Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the biggest lead-generation breakthrough to come about in a long time. For small and midsize companies, in particular—and thanks to its ability to narrowly target prospects, tightly manage spending, and precisely measure results—PPC is one of the most efficient lead generation tools ever developed.
It does, however, have a downside. Because PPC campaigns are so quick to set up and start, a business owner can easily waste thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks before learning some hard (and expensive) lessons about what works and what doesn't.
The purpose of this brief article is to point out the most common mistakes made with PPC so that your efforts begin generating results as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Mistake No. 1: Use your homepage as the landing page
When you set up a PPC ad, whether it's with Google, Yahoo or any other search engine, it's up to you to decide where to direct the people who click on your ad. By default, most companies simply send clickers to the company homepage. After all, they reason, if the homepage is the digital equivalent of the company front door, shouldn't we bring prospects there as a starting point?
No, and here's why: Most company homepages cover too many subjects and have too much going on to work as effective landing pages. Simply dropping a searcher there in the hope that he finds what he's looking for almost guarantees frustration and failure.
Remember, a person who initiates a Web search is looking for something specific. Tossing him to a generic homepage (with the implicit message, "Here, you figure it out") will work against your intention of converting ad clicks into leads.
Instead, the most effective PPC ads take clickers to a tightly focused landing page—a page specifically developed and matched to the subject of the search, with minimal distractions, a strong call to action, and a well-thought-out process for moving the searcher to the next step, whether that's requesting information, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase.
John Grant is president of Take Aim Search (www.takeaimsearch.com), a search engine marketing company specializing in pay-per-click lead generation for small and medium-sized companies.