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PPC Marketing 101

What is PPC?

PPC (Pay per Click) marketing describes the promotion of products/services by means of Web-based ads that are paid for when they generate a click to their specified URL. PPC ads are particularly effective as they appear only on pages relevant to their destination link (as determined by pre-specified keywords), eg on search results for target keywords or content pages featuring those terms.

PPC Networks

There are many PPC advertising networks with the best known including Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. AdWords provides access to the dominant search engine and the huge network of partner sites enrolled in the complementary AdSense program. Facebook Ads offers the advantage of highly specific targeting due to the information held on its registered user base.

Starting PPC Marketing

As with any marketing campaign, PPC begins with identifying what you want to market. If you already have a product, that choice is made for you. You may simply want to build brand awareness or generate sign-ups to a list.

If you are among the growing number of affiliate marketers and you don’t already have an existing Web site / theme / chosen niche, your first step is to identify a niche to serve.

Finding a Niche

An effective niche:

  • Serves a real and specific need
  • Is not over-saturated (ie there is room for new players in the market)
  • Is something you have an interest / feel for

Finding a Product

Once you have selected a niche the next step is to choose one or more products to promote. When starting out it’s probably easier to focus on one product at a time.

Look for a product that:

  • Provides an effective solution to your niche’s need (would you buy it if you were a target customer?)
  • Has a proven sales record, but is not over-sold
  • Is priced both to encourage sales, but also pays sufficient commission to be profitable
  • Has good vendor sales copy (ie will convert your leads)
  • Ideally you are familiar with, or have even used yourself

ClickBank Gravity

ClickBank is a popular affiliate network specializing in digital products. Whether or not you sell ClickBank products, its Website serves as a valuable tool for online marketers. ClickBank Marketplace is the directory of its many products, organized into categories and sub-categories (ie niches). For each product ClickBank provides a statistic called Gravity indicating the performance of the product over the past 12 weeks.

Looking at the top products by Gravity within a niche indicates the niche’s profitability. Few products with Gravity over, say, 20 may suggest that it’s hard to squeeze a profit from that niche. Numerous products over, say, 100 might mean the niche is over-sold and thus difficult to break into. Similarly the gravity for individual products suggests potential profitability.

You may need to experiment to find the optimal Gravity numbers for your particular market and approach, but one of the nice things about affiliate marketing is the ease of switching in and out of products.

Planning a PPC Campaign

The following steps – selecting keywords and demographics, and writing the ad text and (if required) landing page – influence one another and should be carried out in parallel until the campaign works as a whole.

The steps in running a PPC campaign

Keywords and demographics should be selected to:

  • Maximize Clickthrough Rate (CTR) to reduce Cost Per Click (CPC)
  • Maximize relevant click volume (to maximize profit)
  • Minimize irrelevant click volume (to maximize conversion rate and minimize wasted clicks)
Click desirability by campaign type

Keyword Choice

Your target keyword list determines where your ad appears, eg which search results / content pages. Take time to build an extensive list of so-called “long tail” keywords, ie multi-word phrases that produce a reasonable number of searches. Put yourself in the mind of a target customer, what might they type into a search box?

Although you should generate a lengthy keyword list, avoid keywords of low relevance to your campaign. Having ads appear out of context is undesirable for 2 reasons: a) you don’t want to pay for wasted clicks from disinterested visitors, and b) the greater the percentage of your ads that get clicked on the lower cost you will pay per click.


Many PPC networks allow you to determine the demographics of the target audience for your ads. For example you may be able to select by age, gender, geography etc. Searching sites such as Alexa and Quantcast for leading sites within your niche combined with your existing knowledge and experience can help you target the most appropriate demographics.

Ad Copy

Assuming appropriate keywords and demographics have been chosen your ads will only appear to (reasonably) interested surfers. Staying within the word limits and other guidelines of your ad network, the ad text should:

  • Catch the eye of relevant, target, surfers above other ads and options on the search result / content page it appears on (maximize the number of quality clickthroughs)
  • Repel those it can’t help (maximize the percentage of genuine prospect clicks)

Landing Page

In affiliate marketing a landing page is a page on your site that ad clicks are directed to. Landing pages are required if the ad network / affiliate vendor prohibits ad clicks going directly to the vendor’s sales page. You may also choose to have an intermediate landing page to “pre-sell” the product, ie putting the prospect in the mood to buy before directing them to the sales page.

An effective landing page should:

  • Empathize with the visitor, show you understand their problem / need / want
  • Befriend them - offer (a little) free advice
  • Introduce your proposed solution
  • Show how the solution will address their need and benefit them
  • Be clutter-free, its goal is to send the visitor to the sales page in a positive frame of mind – minimize other links/options
  • Be search-engine optimized – maximize natural (free) traffic
  • Be included (prominently) within existing site navigation – pick up those visiting your site for other reasons

Landing Page Math

Profit from direct-linking campaign = N x (D x R –C)

Profit from landing-page campaign = N x (L x P x R –C)


N = Number of clicks generated
D = % of direct link leads that convert (from vendor sales page)
L = % of landing page visitors that go to vendor sales page
P = % of landing-page (ie pre-sold) leads that convert
R = Revenue per sale
C = Cost per click

Usually a direct-linking campaign will be more profitable than one including a landing page. However a quality landing page will make the percentage of pre-sold leads that convert significantly higher than those send by direct link.

Monitor and Adjust

Online marketing campaigns are never set in stone. Once a campaign is launched its progress should be monitored. If a campaign features different strands, these should be monitored individually to determine what works most effectively. Minor tweaks to any of the above parts of the campaign can produce significant differences in outcome. Finding what works allows you to do more of it, and lessons can be transferred to other campaigns.