85% of retailers believe that search marketing is the most effective way to acquire new customers. 19 percent of those same respondents stated that paid search made up 50 percent or more of their marketing budgets.

Paid search marketing can sometimes be a real challenge. Similar to most other types of marketing, some trial and error is required, but online paid marketing platforms have the distinct advantage of giving you the information you need to quickly start making a return on what you spend on marketing.

There are many ways to improve the performance of your marketing campaigns; this article examines some of the most important for you to follow when you are starting your first campaign, or if you have tried paid marketing before with little success.

Paid Marketing Tip # 1: Define Your Conversion Goals

Before you begin your paid marketing campaign, it is essential to have clear conversion targets. What are you looking to accomplish? What do you want your visitors to do when they open your landing page? Common conversion targets include:

  • Completion of lead capture forms
  • Adding new subscribers to your newsletter
  • Completing a purchase

Paid Marketing Tip # 2: Find Appropriate Keywords

The keywords you select could either make or break your marketing campaign, so it is essential to spend time to identify the keywords that will help you achieve the conversion goals that you define.

When you invest in a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, you should target buying-intent keywords instead of generic ones that cost you money but do not deliver results. Buying-intent keywords deliver visitors who are looking to make a purchase instead of those simply searching for information.

Your keywords need to be highly targeted; for example a search for ‘caterer New York,’ differentiates an individual looking to hire a service professional in your area from another who is simply searching for information by typing “caterer.”

Smart Insights found that effective SEO (highly targeted keywords) will almost always give you a lower cost per click ratio.

Paid Marketing Tip # 3: Choose a Suitable Platform

An online paid marketing campaign can be run on a number of platforms. Some of the most popular include:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing

All of these networks have advantages and disadvantages, so you should compare them and figure which is the best fit for your needs. When launching an online paid marketing campaign, it is vital to test several platforms, or consult professional PPC campaign managers to help you determine the best platform for you.

Paid Marketing Tip # 4: Decide What Your PPC Budget Should Be

Some reverse engineering is involved in determining the cost of a paid marketing campaign. Use the price per item of whatever your product or service is to determine what you want to spend to acquire a customer.

From there, as you optimize your campaign and improve its performance, you can play with the numbers until your returns from conversions justify your budget.

Because crunching these numbers can sometimes be a complex task, you may want to hire a professional PPC management company.

Keep in mind that 75% of Google’s mobile search ad revenue comes from Apple devices. How does your site appear on iPhones? Have you tested it?

Paid Marketing Tip # 5: Ensure Your Ad Copy Is As Compelling As Possible

Above everything else, your ad copy must grab and hold the attention of the person performing a search. Having high bids per click and having your ad displayed at the top of the results does not guarantee that people will click on the ad or that a click will lead to a conversion.

Ensure that your target keyword is in the ad title and its description. You should also create highly targeted ad groups for a start, eliminating those that do not offer the results and returns you desire and investing more in those that do.

Constant testing and optimization is necessary to ensure that your marketing campaign continues to give you a return on your investment. You cannot afford to do a one-time setup and leave it to run on autopilot. Paid marketing is a full time job that needs constant testing of ad copy, landing pages, keywords and bidding strategies for continued success.