With this blog post, I’m going to talk about my techniques with using PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising to drive traffic to my eBay store fronts. I’ve seen this discussed plenty on various forums, and wanted to describe what I feel is somewhat a formula to get good returns on a monthly basis. Now, my disclaimer. First off, I’m not a PPC guru, and I’m just like everyone reading this post, I’m trying to learn and succeed. Your results may differ.
I also want to explain my general setup when it comes to eBay store fronts. First off, I don’t use BANS but roll my own store fronts. I do this for maximum control and to also not look like a cookie-cutter BANS site. If you want to get clicks (converting clicks) it’s important to separate yourself from the pack. The next piece of the initial puzzle is to create multiple store fronts spanning across multiple niches. Basically, I’m fishing to see what niches have good potential returns. The stores that appear to be promising, I do the 10 degrees of separation trick and expand on that further.
10 degrees of separation? That is when I find a topic or niche that appears to be working, and either expand the niche or narrow it by 10 degrees. So, using my classic Star Wars theme that I seem to use all the time. Let’s say I created a Star Wars Collectibles niche, and it was very successful. Changing 10 degrees, I would create a store that focused solely on Star Wars action figures or expand to cover Sci-Fi Collectibles in general. As you can see, I can expand or contract depending on that. You can continually play with this to get more fingers in the pot.
With PPC it’s important to ‘test’ the waters before diving in. Testing means spending money and/or losing money people. If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton to lose, so to manage your loses, it’s critical to keep good records of earnings and expenses on a monthly basis. This way you can see that you lost horribly on a few sites, but the other sites made up for that and you ended up with a profit. Also, it’s good to set aside cash from your earnings to roll back into experimentation on other PPC campaigns or store front sites (don’t buy stupid toys for yourself!), etc. My point is it’s going to take money to make money, so do it with intelligence. Not to get off a tangent, but my goal for 2007 was to learn and try new things in affiliate marketing, that way I’ll have a direction, goals and a arsenal for 2008.
A very common statement that you’ll hear is “I don’t want to do PPC, since it cuts into your profits”. Well, that can be true, but at the same time, it’ll make you a lot more money in a quick span than tweaking your content all day and submitting it to directories and hope that organic traffic will take your site to the next level. To me, time is money.. and going pure organic can burn alot of time. You know I’m a person that constantly says to diversify… and this is another thing to diversify on. Use organic techniques on some sites, try some PPC on others, etc. Just keep moving forward.
Once I had a descent network of sites, I began to see what I could do about paying for traffic with PPC. I played with Google AdWords on a few sites and lost miserably. But as I stated above, I had other ‘earners’ that kept me in the green. Starting out in internet marketing in Oct 2006, I’ve never went into the red on any month (mainly due to diversification and testing).
With PPC on eBay store fronts I would follow a few of these rules.
1. Start a Yahoo YSM account (don’t use AdWords or MSN for now)
Basically, AdWords gets way too many clicks and the keywords are expensive. Also your quality score will slip once they realize you’re a eBay affiliate site which will raise your keyword bid amounts. MSN just doesn’t get me enough traffic. It might be fine to test a few campaigns, but the impression/clicks are pretty low. YSM is the best. You get excellent impression and clicks and your keywords are cheap!
2. Focus PPC campaigns on eBay store fronts that have decent ending auction prices
I usually like to focus on niches that have closing auction prices around $100 and up. If you’re promoting auctions with cheap closing auction prices, you’ll lose the PPC game since you commissions will either fall short of your PPC campaign or just cover it. Again, keep records of your sites earnings/expenses. I analyze each site’s +/- percentage to see if the PPC campaign is a success of failure. I usually run a campaign for 3 months before making any decisions or tweaks.
3. Make sure your eBay store front has easy information about signing up (promote the ACRU!)
Nothing pads your earnings than the $25 eBay sign ups, so I like to place text stating that you need to be a member and direct them to the eBay sign up page with your rover code.
4. Keep your keywords cheap
With YSM (Yahoo), you can have keywords at .10/keyword. I usually blanket all my keywords to be .10. I’ve played with raising keyword pricing, etc., and have not seen a real increase in earnings. I do see an increase in traffic but not in earnings. I’m still dialing this in.
5. Mix broad keywords with longtail
I usually pick all the ‘general’ keywords related to my niche, but then I start focusing on the longtail keywords (full model names, etc)
6. Manage daily spending limits.
Each campaign can have a daily spending limit at Yahoo as well as a global account spending limit. For now, I’m setting my global to be around $30/day, but my individual campaigns are around $4 – $6/day.
So I’ve illustrated my key points for YSM PPC, but I’ll start backing up with some data now to help explain it better.
Currently I have about 30 store fronts spanning multiple niches. I have a total of 14 campaigns running on YSM right now, so roughly I have about half of my store fronts using PPC, the other half is solely using organic search results or other means of traffic generation. Today is December 16th and my PPC cost at Yahoo is at $182.62. I have 3,102,401 ad impressions and 1,501 clicks on my ads. Not too shabby for traffic at all. I know the big PPC players are gigglin’ with these numbers, but I feel great about these. Looking at my month to date earnings (including AdSense), I’ve acquired $698.46 in earnings. So that’s a $515.84 in profit, and I’m half way through December.
In November, I pointed out my miserable failure with my Halloween PPC campaign, but that was a lesson learned. It failed on rules #2 and #3. I was using higher bid keywords due to the extreme competition, and the costumes are low payout auctions. I have run into a few campaigns where clicks were extremely high and payouts were low, so the next piece is to start tweaking. Here are some tweak points.
1. Find out if the niche is worth the PPC effort.
If after 3 months you’ve noticed that you’ve paid more than you have earned, you must decide if you want to ditch the campaign all together and focus on organic instead. I’ve done this and was pleasantly surprised to see it slowly covering it’s loses. My goal with PPC is to make money so if the site makes dough, I keep pushing the PPC strategy. If it doesn’t, it’s time to ditch and find another niche or another strategy.
2. Tweak the daily spending limit.
Sometimes lowering the spending limit to $2/day affects the profit margin. Also, trying the other way is valid direction too. My goals with PPC is spend approximately $200-$400 a month to make about $1000 in profit. For December, I’m on track to do that. I should spend about $350 and make over $1000.
3. Adjust the keywords.
Often it’s the broad keyword that’s eating your clicks. First you have to determine if that is a converting keyword. You are tracking your keywords aren’t you? If not, this post will be useful.
4. Adjust the geo-target.
Depending on your niche, you may target certain states or regions instead.
So far Yahoo YSM has been really successful in my initial tests. In 2008, I hope to expand on this further and possibly offer strategies for AdWords. I also think that YSM is a good initial sandbox to test ads. If you have a successful profitable campaign in YSM, you’ll probably have a good chance doubling that success with AdWords.
Let me know your thoughts, experiences or suggestions.