By Craig Barrett
When it comes to getting the most from your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign, there's no one magic solution. Self-storage operators who pay for this type of online marketing need to be aware of whats drawing customers inand what isnt. Here are five simple steps they can take to ensure their pay-per-click advertising is worth every dollar spent.
1: Watch your Quality Score
Did you know you might be paying $5 for a click from Google AdWords while the guys sitting one position above you pay just $2? Its not fair, but its reality. The Google quality score is the black box by which Google ranks advertisers against each other.
How much you pay per click and where your ad appears is, in part, controlled by this score. No one knows exactly how it operates or how much it affects your campaigns, but we do know that keywords and ad groups with a higher click-through-rate (CTR) will get a better quality score than those with poor CTR. In turn, those with excellent quality scores will pay lesssometimes much lessthan those with poor ones.
To start increasing your quality score, look at the keywords in your account that have a poor score (three or below) and pause them. If you think a keyword is highly relevant, consider changing the match type or increasing the bid so it can get more clicks and increase the CTR.
Google also considers the bounce rate of your landing page, so make sure youre sending visitors to a highly relevant page.
Note that you cannot always increase a quality score. Each term should be individually considered.
2: Test More Ads
In every single ad group, you should be running two to three ads. The difference between a good ad and a mediocre one can mean 10 percent to 20 percent more self-storage reservations per month, so its worth your time to continually improve copy. Let each group run for 30 days, then prune the lower-performing ads and create two new variations. Remember to look at both conversion rate and CTR when determining which ad is more effective.
Its also in your best interest to explore a wide variety of ad variations. Every season can have an entirely different type of ad copy. What works for students during the summer will probably not be the right choice to attract boaters storing their toys in the winter. Dont be afraid to create some funny ads, show your best prices or test different specials. Your ad needs to stand out from all the others if you want to grab searchers attention.
3: Stop Using Broad Match So Darn Much
If you keep the Google defaults when setting up your PPC campaign, youre letting the fox build the henhouse. If you let one of their representatives create your campaign, youve allowed the fox to staff and configure the henhouse as well.
One of the easiest things to overlook is how Google will default your keywords to broad match, one of three main match types. In broad match, Google will attempt to show your ad to anyone who searches that keyword or any variation of the keyword Google thinks might be related.
Trust me, Google thinks a lot of things might be related to self-storage.
How bad can it be? Well, if you buy a word like Houston storage rentals, dont be surprised if your ad appears when someone searches cargo shipping containers. This means youll end up with a lot of junk clicks.
Most of your campaign should be set up using phrase match. This means a search must include the phrase youve designated in the search. For instance, if you bid on the term storage unit, your ad will appear when someone searches Miami storage unit or storage unit for rent.
Your ad would not appear for searches of rent storage because the term unit was not in the search. Dont forget to make sure you have plenty of negative keywords, because your ad will still appear for CD storage unit with phrase match.
4: Buy Your Own Brand Name
For some reason, this one riles people. There are a number of self-storage owners who run otherwise top-notch PPC efforts for their facilities who outright refuse to bid on their own brand name. Most feel that since they invested heavily in search-engine optimization and rank well, they shouldnt have to. This is a mistake. There are three important reasons to bid on your brand name.
First, it increases authority. Studies have shown that if a user sees your ad at the top and your organic results below it, youll seem more trustworthy. Clients that trust, move in.
Second, youll increase your quality score. You can expect click-through rates in the 25 percent-plus range, which also has the effect of increasing your whole accounts average quality score. This, in turn, will lower your accounts average cost per click.
Last, if you dont bid on your brand, someone else will. Buying a competitor's brand name is certainly allowed on AdWords, and you dont want your competitors up the road snagging reservations when the user was searching for you. By the way, you can also bid on your competitors name.
5: Use a Unique Phone Number to Understand Effectiveness
Its easy to look at a monthly bill coming in from AdWords and wonder if youre actually getting your moneys worth. However, not everyone knows just how easy it is to answer that question. Sure, you have conversion tracking in place on your website so you can see how many PPC visitors take an action, but are you also tracking the number of phone calls your AdWords campaign generates? If not, you could be missing about half of the total bookings.
Twenty years ago an additional phone number was quite an expense, but these days you can get one for as little as a dollar a month. Companies like CallFire.com will let you create a new phone number in minutes so you can count and listen to the phone calls generated by AdWords.
Just make sure to use this number in your call extension tab in AdWords and have it placed on the PPC landing pages on your website. Dont forget, you can use a unique phone number for every marketing activity you do. Double down on what works!
PPC advertising can be a valuable marketing strategy for self-storage operators in busy markets. By following the simple steps above, operators can drill down to the vital components that make this type of advertising more successful and will be rewarded with more self-storage reservations.
Craig Barrett, director of search marketing for SpareFoot.com, has created pay-per-click marketing campaigns for a variety of companies, from big companies that spend millions of dollars a month to smaller ones with minimal budgets. Craig also has a fundamentally sound grasp of most digital-marketing activities. Follow him on Twitter: @craigabarrett.