Paid Search Marketing Tips

Snakes on a Plane & Search Advertising

What does this hyped box office bomb have to do with search engine marketing? Conversions. No, not the religious sort, unless you’re religious about tracking (which, come to think of it, you should be).

Most summer Hollywood movies get lots of impressions. People often see ads for movies dozens of times. This is nothing new. Of course Hollywood advertisers see this as important, but even they realize that showing someone a preview ad nauseam doesn’t guarantee interest.

Snakes on a Plane (SoaP for those who fell into the internet hype) was different. Long before the trailers were released, people were interacting with the movie-to-be. Bloggers posted about it, pre-fans made sketches and cartoons, TV shows parodied it, and people were wearing SoaP shirts before the movie was even finished. People showed interest. They clicked. Hollywood execs were thrilled. Success was guaranteed. Finally the movie was released and it flopped. Despite the internet frenzy, few people actually bought tickets.

The same thing happens every day in the world of paid search. There are some keywords that generate a lot of interest, but don’t convert to sales. The difference is that with PPC, you actually pay when someone shows interest. And you probably don’t have a multi-million dollar budget to throw around.

NetApplications didn’t ask us to plug their products, just to give tips on paid search, but our first and foremost tip is to make sure you have a good lead tracking system properly installed. If you’re already using Hitslink, make sure you’re using the Enterprise edition so you can effectively track your leads and what keywords they came from. If you’re not on Hitslink, we do find that it’s one of the best values for a tracking system, but there are lots of effective systems out there.

For the Hitslink Enterprise edition, install the conversion tracking image tag on the confirmation page after the lead or sale. (We call it a Thank You Page because the page usually says something like “Thank you for your interest/order/etc”). Of course make sure you have the traffic tracking code on every page. Then add a tracking code in a query string at the end of your keyword URLs. It can be as simple as, if the keyword is “Snakes on a plane” and the search engine is Google. Then, if someone searches on that keyword, clicks on an ad, and fills out a lead form or makes a purchase, you will see them listed in the transaction list with a campaign code “Google-Snakes_on_a_plane”. If you see a keyword that gets lots of clicks but never shows up on the transaction list, you know you’ve got a problem keyword.

There might be snakes in your PPC campaign, so find them before they bite you. Ok, that was probably taking the theme of the article too far.

If the purpose of your website is to drive leads, sales, or movie ticket purchases, don’t focus on clicks, focus on conversions. If, on the other hand, the purpose of your site is to create short-lived internet phenomenon so compelling that people are relating it to business principles a year later, go ahead, get excited about all those clicks.

This tip submitted by:
Alissa Ruehl - PPC Manager

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