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Does PPC fit in to your marketing budget? Find out with our PPC budget calculator

We collaborated with Justin Wagner at Adfinitely on this post. Adfinitely is an Atlanta-based company that provides marketing technology to multi-location businesses.

If you’re interested in running a PPC campaign as part of your marketing strategy, it’s first important to figure out if running PPC for your business will even be profitable. Your margins will depend on myriad factors, and whether or not you have a sufficient budget to run a profitable ad campaign is one of the biggest.
With too little budget, you run the risk of not seeing enough volume to reach profitability. And with too much spend, you’ll likely conclude that you need to put your dollars into other channels to drive sales, as there just aren’t enough relevant searches a day to meet your intended budget.
So, how much money should your business be spending on pay per click? Below, we outline 7 beginner tips for figuring out how much you might need to spend to run a profitable paid search campaign, along with some tips for maintaining that profitability as you scale.
Follow our PPC tips below and check out our calculator to discover your ad budget.

PPC Budget Calculator

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Cost Per Lead: $

PPC Budget: $

Are you wanting to track ROI on your PPC spend beyond form fills and downloads? Most of today’s leading PPC agencies are using call tracking to track offline leads and conversions. Fill out the form below to uncover the PPC secrets that helped one agency increase call conversions for their client by 400%.

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7 rules for preparing a PPC ad spend budget

1. Selecting keywords for your ad copy

What kind of search terms are potential customers using when looking for your product or service? This can be pretty straightforward for some, like if you’re running an e-commerce store or selling just a few products.
But figuring out the answer to that question gets complicated quickly when your product is a solution to a niche problem –– think “how can I track the effectiveness of my marketing dollars?” or “what’s the healthiest food for dogs?”
Your first focus should be on keywords that show immediate intent to purchase. For example, “Buy blue cowboy hat,” has more immediate intent than, say, “Cowboy hats.” These search terms will have a higher click-through rate and conversion rate. When you’re building a keyword list for different ad groups, start with high-intent keywords and experiment with higher-funnel, low-intent keywords later on, when you’re ready to scale your operations.

2. Research search volume trends

Proper research is one of the most important steps when you’re thinking of running a PPC campaign. The number of times your ads can be shown is completely dependent on search volume of your chosen keywords, or how many people are searching for your product at any given time. Without sufficient search volume, Google won’t even show your ads.
That said, smaller search volume can often be advantageous, especially for small businesses, as this usually equates to lower costs and light or non-existent competition. This could mean that building a campaign to ensure you’re always showing for these search terms could be both attainable and lucrative. If search volume is high, it’ll often mean costs and competition are both high, and that means you’ll likely need a larger initial investment to break into the space.

3. Research CPC (Cost Per Click) estimates

While researching search volume of your keywords (via Google Keyword Planner for example), you’ll also come across cost-per-click estimates. These are estimates on how much you’ll be paying every time someone clicks one of your ads. As we mentioned above, high search volume often comes with a high cost-per-click. This isn’t always bad, though. With enough data, you can figure out whether or not it will be be profitable for you to invest in winning these clicks. We’ll talk about calculating profitability a little later.

4. Target geographic areas important to your business

This is going to vary by business, but if you’re a local business, it’s probably in your best interest to just target a small radius around your business to start. Maybe there’s an area nearby with a demographic that your products cater to particularly well. Conversely, if your goal is to run a nationwide campaign, using your geographic targeting to start with a smaller area, then expanding your campaign based on success, can often be a good strategy for scaling your campaigns profitably.

5. Run ads at specific times to your business and industry

Once you’ve been running an ad campaign profitably with a clear return on investment, a great way to boost your campaign‘s revenue is to start limiting the timeframe in which your ads are showing to only the most profitable hours of the day. Is your business looking to drive calls in addition to website visitors, or online purchases? Try scheduling call extensions or call-only ads to only run when your phones will be manned.

6. Target devices that are specific to your customers

This has a bit more of a niche use case, but start thinking about what devices your prospects are using for research and purchases. Oftentimes you’ll see lower-ticket items both researched and purchased on mobile, but with higher-ticket items, most purchasing is done on desktop. Using this sort of info, you can bid more aggressively and less aggressively for these kinds of traffic based on where they are in your sales funnel.

7. Monitor your position, ad spend, and conversion metrics

Lastly, once we’ve got our campaign up and running, it’s time to monitor our core KPIs (key performance indicators), to gauge the success of our campaign and to figure out ways to improve it. Are certain expensive keywords not converting into sales or leads as often as is needed to be profitable? Are certain keywords performing better at lower positions than in higher positions on the SERP (search engine results page)?
These are the kinds of indicators we want to monitor to manage and improve our campaign.

Will PPC be profitable for you?

So you’ve done your research, and it looks like there are some reasonably priced keywords for your product along with a good handful of people searching for those keywords each month. The next step is to take a look at your products, customers, and site analytics. For some businesses, looking at products means average order size. For others, it might mean lifetime customer value. The takeaway here is you need to know the value of driving one potential customer to your website, whether it’s $30 or $3,000.

Next, you want to look at your site analytics to determine your conversion rates, or the rate at which people are turning into customers. How often does a new site visitor become a customer or purchase your products? The higher the rate of purchase, and the higher the ticket price on an individual sale, the more we can afford to spend on driving traffic to the site.

For example, if we know the average order size on our website is $100, clicks are roughly $1, and our conversion rate is 2%, then for every 50 people we get to the site, one will make a purchase. This leaves our profit for those 50 clicks at $50, if we already have our margin baked into average order size. But if we can bump our conversion rate up to 7%, we get 3.5 purchases on average for $350 in total sales, equalling $300 in profit.

 

PPC budget calculator, plus budgeting tips

Once you’ve determined your campaign will be profitable, you can take calculations one step further and start to think about what a reasonable budget would be.

Let’s say, for example, when using the Google Keyword Planner, you learned that ~5,000 people search for products like yours every month, using a variety of different keywords in their queries. Let’s also say the average cost per click for those search terms was just $1.

Let’s also take a guess at an average click-through-rate for these keywords (the rate at which people will click your ad when they see it on the page). When figuring out a click-through-rate, you can consult various charts and websites that give averages per industry, but as a whole, it’s going to vary wildly, so we’d recommend starting with 5% then adjusting your calculations based on real-world data when your campaign starts. Now, with a 5% CTR (click-through-rate) and ~5,000 monthly searches at $1/click, you could expect to see roughly $250 in spend.

That seems simple enough, but remember that all of these numbers can vary wildly, from clicks costing more than $25 to CTRs both above 10% and below 1%. The beauty of PPC, however, is that you can monitor all these factors continuously and only spend money on clicks and keywords that you know are going to be profitable.

 

So how much should you spend on PPC?

The real answer here is: As much as possible, so long as you’re staying profitable. If your campaigns are driving more revenue than they’re costing, why slow down?

To start, you can use the tips and calculator above to at least get an approximation of how much you could spend and whether not you should even try in the first place.

The post How much should you spend on PPC? PPC Budget Calculator & Tips for setting a budget appeared first on CallRail.

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Our product roadmaps are already defined by our company’s ethos — our customers are just waiting for us to recognize it. Their pain points, frustrations, and repetitive tasking are our infinite roadmaps. The world of technology is full of opportunities, innovation, and demand, and when we solve one customer’s problem, another will arise before we can finish bug-fixing the first.

Airplane WiFi is my favorite example of this. Is there a technology hardship worse than trying to browse the internet on an airplane? It’s excruciatingly slow compared to our office WiFi and 4G connections! But while we complain in between the lethargic page loads, we forget that 15 years ago, WiFi on an airplane was an idea that could be best described as ‘wishful thinking.’

This is a perfect example of how a solution can immediately lead you to the next problem. We were all so excited when we boarded an airplane and saw the WiFi light glowing for the first time. But within a short few years (or maybe months, for you heavy travelers out there) we were no longer appeased with just having wifi — we had to have fast wifi.

In other words, innovation very often runs parallel to problems that need solving. If we’re lucky, our product is never complete, just like our customer is never satisfied. By building customer empathy into process and product creation, we can be sure that we’ll always be on top of the next thing our customers need.

Start with qualitative data

Qualitative data is the key to understanding what quantitative data you need, and how to get it. User interviews, product reviews, and customer feedback can provide you with the “what” and the “why” as step one. Step two is then layering quantitative data on top to measure the “how often,” “how much,” and “when.”

I make it a habit to talk to customers in-person at least once a quarter. Whenever possible, I partner with our Customer Support, Marketing, and Sales teams and tag along when they speak with our customers. Reaching out to users directly through email is also a fast and effective way to start a relationship with your customer base.

CallRail Product Manager Christina Bourne gives a presentation at our 2018 Agency Summit.

CallRail’s Agency Summit conferences have been an enlightening source of feedback since the inaugural conference in Atlanta in 2018. At these conferences, I’m able to present new concepts and discuss product enhancements with groups of customers. The feedback received during these lunch and learns, happy hours, and interactive presentations have led to significant improvements in our Account Center product, which has in turn increased adoption of the product.

The feedback from any conversation you have with your customers powers ideas, highlights opportunities, and ensures our software development has a human touch. And while you may only see a small number of customers respond in your first few attempts, users will become more engaged as they start to see their feedback implemented in your product. 

When you consider which customers to talk to, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Accessibility: How easy is it for you to reach the customer? Taking the path of least resistance will allow you to add customer empathy to your planning process, without delaying your development cycles.
  2. Customer Segment: Is this customer representative of your other customers? They certainly don’t have to be, but you should be aware going into the conversation whether their feedback is going to apply to all of your users, or only a segment of them. Don’t be afraid of segmented customers — implementing features for a segment of your customers can still be a good business decision if those customers are high-revenue,  have high potential, or if they are your daily active users. 
  3. Customer Satisfaction: Satisfied customers and dissatisfied customers are going to provide very different feedback. Both are valuable, but should be gathered with different goals in mind. Satisfied customers will help you develop ideas to retain users, increase usage, and grow existing customer revenue. Dissatisfied users will help you develop ideas to increase future retention and fix glaring product issues. 

Layering in the Numbers

If you were to stop reading here, you might go on to have fantastic conversations with your customers but build the least-used feature of your application. Customer empathy as a tool cannot stop at qualitative data. It must be layered with quantitative data in order to validate your new assumptions and confirm there is scale to justify development.

Here at CallRail, we use customer support tickets to create our own Holy Grail of qualitative and quantitative data. After hearing from customers that they wanted to be alerted to data anomalies or setup issues within their accounts, I searched our customer support tickets for how often customers have been reaching out about these topics. My research bore fruit: I found enough tickets with similar problems to reinforce the sentiment I had heard during customer interviews and meetings.

These customer support tickets gave me the quantitative data I needed to justify building a solution for our customers: An upgrade to our Slack Integration that allows customers to receive insights in Slack for data anomalies, along with alerts about issues with their accounts.

Through the simple process of engaging in conversation with our users, combined with the careful use of quantitative data to determine how frequently a need or pain point is expressed, you can build a strong case to either add a feature to your roadmap. Or, you might learn that it’s better to reject the idea, so you can make room for other new ideas to be evaluated. 

What people say VS What people do 

Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying that if he’d asked his customers what they wanted, he would have built a faster horse instead of the car. If building the right products were as easy as listening to customers and then building what they say, Product Managers would be out of a job.

The last critical step in building customer empathy into your process and your products is to make sure you always hear the problems, frustrations, and pain points before you come up with a solution. Empathy is about understanding the problem so intimately that the solution can be freed from existing expectations. 

The post Why customer empathy is critical to our processes and products appeared first on CallRail.

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If your billing software is guilty of any of these transgressions, if might be time to change things up.

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Using Your Marketing Automation For To-Partner Marketing

Most companies today have adopted some form of marketing whether it’s digital, email, social or content in order to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Why not replicate some of your email marketing initiatives to your partners so they can be equipped to sell your brand successfully? A to-partner marketing strategy with your marketing automation platform, like Hubspot or Marketo, may lead to increased deal registrations, increased partner portal logins, and increased partner engagement. It can be an essential part of a healthy partner ecosystem.

What is to-partner marketing? 

To-partner marketing is creating campaigns for partners through your marketing automation platform (MAP) so they can successfully sell your product or service. It’s a key component of the overall marketing mix for many businesses, and to-partner marketing can easily be an extension of your existing marketing efforts. Below are some ways you can ensure the success of your to-partner campaigns by developing a to-partner marketing program within your marketing automation platform. 

The Steps to a Succesful To-Partner Marketing Strategy

● Design a partner marketing strategy. Create a marketing plan the same way you would for other channels like email messaging, audience (or partner) segmentation, and cadence. Start with a brainstorm and narrow down your thoughts into a tactical plan with a cohesive vision. Document exactly what type of content will be developed, who will be responsible, how it will be shared, etc. All of your messaging and content should work together for an educational experience for your partners. Remember, the end goal is to fuel your partners with relevant collateral and information about your business.

● Align your internal teams around your partners. Partner marketing will never be successful unless marketing and channel managers are on the same page with the same goals. Once you’ve created a strategy in step one, work with your various teams to create content that supports the various goals. If you’d like more help here, download our eBook “Aligning Your Company Around a Culture of Channel Partner Success.”

● Create content. Make sure your strategy is evergreen yet adaptable based on feedback. Ideally, you will collaborate closely with your partners to get valuable insight on a regular basis. Hopefully, you receive great ideas based on what your partners enjoyed and found helpful to their sales. Take time to understand what their pain points are, what obstacles they face, and what they need to better position your products–then create content around those ideas. 

● Develop campaigns at scale. This is where your marketing automation tool comes in. Creating email programs that can be used for larger groups of people will help you reach more partners in a shorter amount of time. Using a system like Hubspot or Marketo to automate your efforts will help you manage programs effectively. The following tips are a good basis for beginners:

Avoid being spammy

Test and send to yourself first

Use a double opt-in structure so you don’t get dinged for unsolicited emails

Build (and keep) a clean mailing list

Avoid excess code and use simple graphics

Measure carefully and monitor your success. Use the tools that your marketing automation platform provides to track things like click-through and engagement. Benchmarking these metrics could be a good way to understand your initial success or areas of improvement of your to-partner campaign.

Optimize campaigns for the future. Use the benchmark reports you created in Step 5 to make actionable decisions. Email metrics like open rate, click rate, conversion rate (if there is a call to action) are a good starting point for analysis. After analyzing the data, you might want to ask yourself some of these questions: What type of content was engaged with the most? Was there a type of email format (graphic, html, etc) that resonated best? From there, you can leverage Allbound and see where your partners improved. Did the partners who engaged with your email content have a rise in logins? Were they more active within Allbound? Test everything and learn from the successes and failures of your first campaign.

Target your best growth opportunities. Use Allbound to uncover partner engagement opportunities. Have you noticed a decline in partners who would frequently register deals and now trending less frequently? Or a learning track that isn’t being utilized that would greatly benefit partners? Leverage Allbound to see what valuable resources aren’t being utilized and then send them via email. Combining the power of Allbound with the ability to streamline through a marketing automation tool will help you share content, engage with partners, and track overall success. 

Allbound integrates seamlessly with systems you already have in place (like a marketing automation platform), allowing partners to gain key insights into your business. If you are using marketing automation for customers, why not try it for partners as well? If you have questions on how to start, let us know

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