Monthly Archives: October 2005

Keep a very close eye on your PPC advertising

Over a year ago, I wrote a newsletter about how I had managed to save myself $750 a month by cancelling one of the pay per click advertising campaigns that I had been running for months and months.  I spent some time tracking the conversions from the advertising and found that the number of sales resulting directly from that particular campaign were minimal and as such, it was pointless continuing with it.  At the time I made a point of recommending to everyone that they keep a close eye on their own expenditure and track results carefully. 

Obviously I listen to my own advice and it occurred to me recently that one of my other pay-per-click campaigns may not be as lucrative as it once was.  I therefore devoted some time to tracking conversions from this campaign and found that it had gone from being my main source of sales a few years ago, to now contributing hardly any sales at all.  At the beginning of the month, I cancelled this campaign too and it has made absolutely no difference to my business turnover.  The amazing thing is that this campaign was costing me nearly $2000 a month which is now money in my pocket.

So why is PPC becoming less effective?

It is, of course, impossible to say that PPC is actually becoming less effective and the fact is that it works for thousands and thousands of people.  However, it has certainly become less effective for me and I think that the main reason is simply competition.  When I first started the above campaign, there were no other advertisers offering a similar service to my own.  Today there are something like ten different alternatives.  This has two main effects – firstly it means that customers have a much wider choice and regardless of how good my service may be in comparison to the competition, some people are inevitably going to buy from one of my competitors.  Secondly it means that the cost that each advertiser is paying for their exposure has increased considerably and this means that they have to either make more sales or increase their prices in order to make the increased advertising cost worthwhile.

The above situation is one which is likely to affect pretty much all online businesses that use PPC advertising at some point.  This is why you need to get your business to the point whereby you can comfortably turn off your pay-per-click advertising campaigns (if you ever need to) and still generate sales.  This means spending time now building traffic from other sources.  Believe me, the time I have spent over the past few years writing articles, getting good search engine rankings, building links and gaining strong affiliates and joint venture partners has certainly been worthwhile and has made the difference between me having a profitable business today and having nothing.

Some feedback and the busiest time of the year…

You will recall from my previous newsletters that over the past few months I have been putting in place various systems to try and minimize the level of emails and support queries that I receive from my customers.  My intention was to reduce my own workload as well as trying to give my customers a faster answer to their most common questions.

The first thing I did was to set up a dedicated ‘Helpdesk’ which has the answers to many regularly-asked questions as well as the facility for customers to raise a support ticket if they require further assistance.  I also made some fairly drastic changes to the way in which my email is handled in order to reduce the amount of spam and junk that I was receiving.

One of the main reasons that I made these changes was because I was due to take my annual holiday and I didn’t want a repeat of last years experience!  Let me explain…

In 2004 I visited the Maldives which are a group of tiny islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean (when I say tiny, I do mean small – you can walk around the majority of the islands in less than 10 minutes!)  Anyway, I was assured that there was Internet access on the island that I was visiting and so I was fairly comfortable about running things from there.  In the end, my problem didn’t turn out to be the Internet connection (which worked fine albeit somewhat slowly) but the time it was taking me to delete junk mail and deal with the same questions over and over again.  I ended up spending at least an hour a day handling emails from a dark little office when I should have been soaking up the sun.

So I wanted to make sure things changed this year and I am pleased to report that the above steps worked a treat.  In a nutshell, the systems that I put in place cut my Internet time each day from over an hour to about 15 minutes!

My advice therefore is that if you have any type of online business you should definitely be looking at ways of automating your customer support and reducing the number of emails that you have to handle.  This is the case even if you don’t have plans to work away from your office – the time savings are just as valuable to me now that I am back home.

Ok, now back to the business of making money…

As always seems to be the case these days, the summer months have shot by and we are in the closing stages of yet another year (and the old favourite phrase, ‘I don’t know where the year has gone…’ seems to be on the lips of every second person you meet!)

But before you write the year off and start planning for 2006, just remember that the period from October to December 24th is often the busiest time of the year for many businesses – especially those in the retail sector.  I have noticed that in the past week alone the number of searches being carried out on my wholesale search engines have shot up as buyers look for new stock to sell during the next couple of months.

The run up to Christmas offers a huge opportunity to make some serious money and if you are working online, you have many advantages that our offline friends do not.  For starters, even if you haven’t actually started an online business, there is still time to cash in – it doesn’t take very long to create a simple website and even if you don’t have the ability/time/inclination to build your own site, there are numerous other places to sell online such as eBay etc.

The point I am trying to make here is that between now and Christmas Day there is a window of opportunity to earn some money but the only way that this is going to happen is if you actually take some action.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t actually have a physical product to sell – in my experience, the Internet in general seems to get busier towards the Christmas period (certainly my own traffic stats for the past couple of years support this) so even if you are not selling a Christmas-related product, there is, in theory, more opportunity to get a buyer to your website simply by virtue of the fact that there is more surfing activity.

Of course, if you can base a site around a Christmas theme, you probably have an even better chance of ‘cleaning up’.  I read about a chap who set up a website last year which allowed parents to submit their childrens’ letters to Father Christmas and in return for a small payment (from memory around $10), the child got a personalized letter through the post from the man himself.  I forget the exact figures but this guy made something like $20,000 or $30,000 in the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas and I bet he is going to earn considerably more than that this year!

A simple idea and somewhat seasonal (to say the least!) but a very nice contribution towards his own Xmas expenditure nonetheless.