PPC Ads: What is search engine marketing best used for?


After our recent Web clinic, How to Increase Conversion in 2012: The last 20,000 hours of marketing research distilled into 60 minutes, we received this question from Veronica Cisneros, lead Web designer and developer at websonalized.com …



1.            Assertion:

  • If I remember correctly, the ad excluded the product, or description of the product, and only made reference to awards received. The presenter indicated that the ad was only competing for clicks and position? Which I understood to mean that the vendor did not care to make a sell, but simply wanted traffic to website.

2.            Question:

  • Was my interpretation correct?
  • If not, what was meant by “competing for clicks and position”?
  • If yes, what did the vendor achieve by increasing the traffic to this landing page?


The point is that many people try to flat out sell with a PPC ad. The only thing the PPC ad should sell is the value of the customer clicking.

Once the customer clicks, then the landing page should sell the value of the next step (which may be lead capture, a sale, or some other objective, perhaps even just getting to the next stage in the funnel).

So for example, no one is going to buy business accounting software because of a PPC ad. However, you might be able to sell them on the value of clicking that ad to learn more. It is essential to understand where the buyer is in the process, and speak to the potential customer with value that resonates at that stage in the process.

So what is search engine marketing best used for? To communicate the value of a click to your landing page, not to get a sale.

You can hear Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, discuss our discoveries about search engine marketing and pay-per-click ads further in the free How to Increase Conversion in 2012: The last 20,000 hours of marketing research distilled into 60 minutes Web clinic replay.


Related Resources:

Optimizing PPC Ads: How to leverage the full potential of 130 characters by clarifying the value proposition

Converting PPC Traffic: How clarifying value generated 99.4% more conversions on a PPC landing page

Search Engine Marketing: Finding appeal for your PPC Ads

PPC Advertising: 5 winning display ad tactics that increased paying customers by 2,900% and dropped cost-per-lead 37%

The Small Business Website: Response Time to Internet Generated Leads – via websonalized.com

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  1. Paul Cheney says

    I’d add that while the goal of a ppc ad is to get a click, it’s also important to get the correct click. I could run an ad that said, “Free car, click hear to claim it,” and get all the clicks I wanted. But if I was selling toothbrushes on the landing page, all of that money would be wasted. You want clicks that set people up for the ultimate click on the “buy” button.

    Just saw a test come in the other day that illustrates this really well. Maybe I’ll write about it someday… 😉

  2. veronica says

    @Paul Cheney having an add announcing a free car with a link that leads the user to a landing page that sells toothbrushes is misleading.

    I’ll assume that you mean to say that the text included in the PPC ad is vital to filter users that are ready to “click on the buy button.” If this is the case, in my opinion you’ve missed the point of Paul’s entry. Wanting to ” flat out sell” the “click the buy button” through the copy of the PPC ad is what is to be avoided.

    Perhaps I have missed something of what you are trying to communicate in your comment above. Could you elaborate and be more specific about the characteristics of the copy vs. the landing page content that you experimented with? Or better yet, an example that portrays the value of your contribution (i.e. I’d add that… )


    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Thanks Veronica and Paul,
      You both bring up another perfect topic for a blog post — quality clicks vs. quantity clicks (especially if you’re paying per click).

      Look out on the MarketingExperiments blog next Friday for a blog post covering this topic.


  3. Clive says

    As always, everything needs to be put into context. Depending on what your goals are and the mind set of your prospects.

    For me “The only thing the PPC ad should sell is the value of the customer clicking.” is too broad a statement and while it probably holds true in most cases it is not an absolute.

    I would just like to caution people that you always need to test. In our area of expertise (which is local services) we definitely go after the sale in the ad – not exclusively and not in all cases.

    In fact, we have had success by including a telephone number directly in the ad and in this way, going around the click all together! This can also work in the meta-description if you have a high ranking site.

    My point is that you need to keep an open mind and not decide up front what may or may not work! Try different approaches and always test to compare and find what works best for each situation.

  4. Marie says

    Great blog post. My question is how do you target specifically to a buyer who is in a particular stage in the process? Thanks!

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Thanks Marie,

      In the middle of MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2012 right now so I can’t get too deep into it, but I hope this blog post helps… Marketing-Sales Funnel Optimization: 3 questions to ask as you kickoff 2012

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