Relax the ROI on PPC Campaigns In a Down Economy

No business is immune to the normal peaks and valleys, the ebb and flo of financial cycles — from seasonality, to ‘off years’, to an economy like the one we are in now (which many online retailers have never faced).

These challenges will force many businesses to start making difficult decisions, a number of those around what to cut and what to keep. Often times, a marketing budget feels like a good place to cut, but it may be one of the most costly and damaging cuts to make in the long run.

PPC is a darling in most marketing plans, because it’s trackable and has accountability. Of late, many PPC campaigns are coming under much closer scrutiny. The Return on Investment (ROI) is becoming more sacred, and as what feels like the last bastion of success, more and more is being asked of the channel.

But what if instead of trying to squeeze more and more out of that percentage, you let the PPC campaign have a little more freedom? A little more room to breath?

Let me offer three reasons for you to consider relaxing the ROI, even if just temporarily. All three of these speak to the central theme of testing.

Bing — With the launch (and hype) of Bing, Microsoft’s newest iteration of a search engine, there are going to be lots of interested eyeballs. This is a perfect time to really get aggressive with your adCenter campaigns and take advantage of a huge push of new traffic. The longevity of this traffic is still up in the air, but strike while the iron is hot.

More Inventory! — The search engines don’t have some magic immunity from the current economy either. And since the three major players are all publicly traded, they face even more scrutiny to perform. As a result, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are all looking for more real estate to place PPC ads, since those little text ads are such a cash cow for them. If you are willing to be flexible with those Key Performance Indicators, this is a great time to try and find some new audiences by riding the coattails of experimentation.

Wide Open Spaces — The truth is, many companies are pulling back from PPC advertising right now — either out of fear or in a sometimes last ditch effort to keep the doors open. Whatever the cause, as competition falls away, you should have opportunity now to buy more traffic, at a better rate, without the added complexity of a more compelling offer floating in the mix. If you can weather the storm and stay in now, you’ll likely see your customer base grow and have enough traffic to keep the campaigns comfortably afloat.

Never sacrifice a profitable campaign for the sake of staying in, but maybe if margins can be tighter now, the rebound down the road will be even more dramatic. Test, test, test and track! And don’t let ROI mean Risk of Inaction (a new definition of ROI that I heard listening to a podcast a while back with Paul Gillin.