From time to time, I like to check out the PPC thread on Reddit. Unlike some other online discussion sites, this has some pretty good questions and answers.
One of the threads I noticed asked the question, “What do you do when a client wants more clicks utilizing the same budget?” The poster was concerned about the lower traffic he was seeing when he reduced the CPC.
The answers given in the thread are quite good. Suggestions included:
- Shifting budget to the display network
- Track performance by ad position
- Prune under-performing keywords
- Try 3rd tier PPC engines
- Research new long tail keywords
- Try retargeting
These are great ways to lower PPC cost per click, although many of them may not deliver the same number of clicks.
Several commenters, though, rightly pointed out that clicks may not be the right metric to focus on. My favorite comment is this: “Clicks is the worst metric of all. It is your job to advise your client to go beyond. What is value to him? What is a conversion? How can you measure it? Can his website be improved conversion-wise (hint: it always can)? Otherwise, these discussions will keep happening over and over again: it is a race to the bottom (emphasis mine).”
I have to agree. It’s not unusual to see clients whose primary goal is site traffic, but they always leave me feeling like 1999 called and wants its hit counter back.
Sure, you can and should look for mid- and long-tail keywords that drive a decent amount of traffic at a low cost. Another thought would be to beef up on brand terms. Brand terms have the added bonus of not only traffic, but usually also a high conversion rate.
But getting more for the same money is just not always possible. After all, don’t we all want more for less? If you’re looking for a new house, wouldn’t you like to get the biggest one for your money?
Think about what that bigger house is going to be like, though. It might be in a not-so-nice neighborhood. It may look like a throwback to the 1950s and need a lot of cosmetic updating. Or worse, it may have serious deficiencies like a cracked foundation, water damage, or other problems.
It’s all about quality vs. quantity. So if a client comes to you and says they want more clicks for the same budget, remind them of a few things:
- There is a limit to the number of low-cost keywords you can add to your account that will really drive traffic.
- Tactics like trying 3rd tier engines may drive more clicks for the same budget, but are those the type of clicks you really want? I remember testing a few of the 3rd tiers like LookSmart back in the day, and while they drove tons of traffic, none of it converted. (When I did in-house PPC, we tested one engine in about 2005 that was abysmal – the name escapes me at the moment, and it probably doesn’t exist anymore, but we got probably 1,000 clicks and 0 conversions – on a site that converted at 5% or better at that time.) There is a lot to be said for quality.
- Have a frank conversation about whether clicks should be the ultimate metric. I always tell clients that I can drive tons of PPC clicks to their site – all I have to do is put “Free iPads” in the ad copy. But unless your business model includes giving stuff away, that makes no sense.
I almost always steer clients away from clicks as a primary KPI. There has to be some type of conversion that’s being measured – or at minimum a CTR you’re trying to reach. Driving more traffic for the same budget is just unrealistic.
What do you think? Does it ever make sense to have clicks a primary KPI, and then ask for more of them for the same budget? Is it even possible to get more clicks for the same budget? Got any ideas that weren’t presented here? Share in the comments!