Since this blog documents our journey into making money online, we need to share a failure (six of them to be exact). It is a story about pay-per-click and a Christmas cost-per-action offer. I call it…
The Christmas Butt Kicking Of 2007
Failure #1 – Due to an awesome display of poor planning, unlike when we bought and sold a Nintendo Wii, we had no websites up to take advantage of the Christmas shopping mayhem. August or September would have been a great time to start one in hindsight. Oops.
Failure #2 – But wait! Companies offer special deals and products just for Christmas I thought. We could promote one of those! Like an idiot I picked just one type of offer to promote. More than one company sold this product but they are essentially identical. Hmm. Even pros at PPC strike out with offers and I picked a single one. Granted, I was really busy with my day job but this was not smart.
Failure #3 – I purchased a domain and started doing research before Thanksgiving. Several competitors had ads running so I looked at their ad copy to get ideas. I ended up creating 12 different ads. We also came up with a small but targeted list of keywords using Wordtracker and the AdWords keyword tool but something bothered me while doing all of this. I had a hard time seeing how we would differentiate ourselves. Oh well, this product rocks so everyone will make money from it.
Failure #4 – I wanted to start testing early but I started too early. As 46 said, “Nobody cares about this stuff yet.” She was right of course and our CTR went way, way up as Christmas got closer.
Failure #5 – It is not like we have a real long history of doing PPC but I have done okay with broad matching in the past. This ended that and I will never think about broad match keywords quite the same again. I did not think about the consumer and the product enough because everybody and their dog searched for free versions. It still amazes me how many variation of “free” there were. I stupidly spent hours going through the server logs to add negative keywords instead of switching to exact matching. This campaign ended with six times as many negative keywords as positive keywords.
Failure #6 – To make things worse, the conversion rate sucked. It struggled to reach more than 1%. I do not think it was just me though. The network eCPC was low and, for the most part, the only people doing well were email marketers. Not that this makes it any better for us. 46 said she thought the product was kind of expensive at some point. Right again.
On the bright side, we did not lose a ton of money and own a decent domain name. Hopefully, some of the newer people learned something from this (and the experienced people got a good laugh). Next year, if we run this offer, it is going to be strictly organic or email (once we have an email list that is). I am not falling for this again.
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