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Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Still Profitable?

Not long ago it was very easy to profit from pay-per-click advertising. In fact, I used to spend 99% of my advertising budget on pay-per-click search engine advertising since it was so easy just to post up an ad, add funds to one of the popular pay-per-click providers and sit back and watch the orders food in.

It was that easy.

Using simple tracking software, the source for each sale could be determined. It was then a simple calculation to determine how much I could bid on popular keywords, by dividing the gross amount in sales by the number of visitors to my website.

This scientific marketing approach produced a real healthy return on my investment. So I continued to top-up my pay-per-click account and watch my profits grow!

However, over time my results began to change...unfortunately for the worse! As more and more advertisers took advantage of the fast and easy access to niche markets by PPC advertising, the competition for those popular keywords to gain pole position became more fierce. Everyone wanted to be at the top to gain the most traffic. The result was a bidding war!

The battle to reach the top became detrimental to the advertiser. As the bids increased, these popular terms which previously used to attract large chunks of profit became too expensive. Instead of providing a return on my investment, the campaign began to cost more than the amount that was returned in sales. I tried lowering my bids but the amount of traffic that was delivered rendered my campaign ineffective.

Up until a few weeks ago, this was my position concerning pay-per-click advertising and if you have been advertising online using ppc methods then this story will probably seem very familiar...

So when I released my latest ebook, as you can imagine, I was a little wary of committing all my advertising to one popular pay-per-click source. I needed to promote my product but at the same time I didn't need to simply throw money away for the sake of getting a listing in the search engine results.

Instead, I decided to perform a comparison test between a few providers to test the market. My starting budget was $200 committed to 3 different traffic sources promoting my latest ebook product 'Cash From Your Camera'

The first was the most popular of the PPC systems -

Google Adwords

The second was another fairly popular source of pay-per-click traffic - Kanoodle at http://www.kanoodle.com

Finally, I tested a new kind of traffic source - Have Traffic at http://www.havetraffic.com. This isn't a pay-per-click search engine but it is a type of PPC advertising. They say that their traffic is achieved through a network of related sites instead of a direct result from a search engine.

Here are the results....

First, for the Google traffic, my average cost per click was 45 cents for the range of different keywords I was bidding on. I received a total of 449 visitors and 1 order.

I also received 20 sign-ups to my newsletter providing a sign-up conversion rate of around 4.4% and ROI of 43% Kanoodle provided much more traffic for my dollars. I actually received 1523 visitors at around 8 cents a visitor. Unfortunately, the results were very disappointing. The campaign did not achieve a single sale and I got only 2 confirmed sign-ups to my newsletter....not good!

Have Traffic was the real surprise package.

I received 1,000 visitors for my $200 and actually received 3 sales and 46 subscribers to my newsletter.

The return on my investment was a 135% plus I received 46 leads with which to follow-up.

Only one of my three campaigns even broke even and that one only earned 135% ROI.  I obviously need to work on my text and ad copy and then I could at least get a profitable return from both Google and Have Traffic.  It really looks like Kanoodle is a bust no matter what I do.  It's a shame. In the distant past, I could count on decent traffic from them.

I guess that if I had used different keywords then it may have been possible to achieve different results for the campaigns

Overall, this test shows that it is still possible to find cost effective pay-per-click advertising. You just have to look harder (sometimes at unexpected sources) and optimize your ad copy quite a bit more than was necessary in the past.  This is true, even for solid and known sources of traffic like Google.

An article by Robert Hartness, successful freelancer and writer of Cash From Your Camera which offers a step-by-step guide to those on the threshold of freelance photography and is illustrated with 40+ published photographs.

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