Home Run PPC Tips [A Q&A With Wrigleyville Sports]

Online advertising has become a lot more competitive and it's not difficult to understand why. More businesses - large and small - are understanding the importance of getting in front of the right audiences on the Web.

Despite this, it's becoming a lot easier for the average person to manage an online advertising campaign successfully.

"A few years ago, anybody could easily start their own PPC campaign, but managing it effectively took some knowledge and experience," said Eric Castellucci, online marketing manager at Wrigleyville Sports. "Now, the various PPC providers make it much simpler to manage with tons of walk through guides and automated features. It has really started to even the playing field."

In Website Magazine's December issue, Castellucci discussed a couple of his PPC tips for online advertisers. Due to the nature of print, we couldn't pack all of his insights onto the page. Here is our Q&A with Castellucci in its entirety.

What are some common PPC fails that you see across the Web?

Castellucci: One thing I've seen from other companies who have tried PPC and discontinued it is they do not give it enough time.  PPC is not necessarily an effort you'll see immediate results from.  It takes some time and Adspend before you start receiving conversions, as well as accumulate the data to optimize the campaigns.

Another thing I've seen is when advertisers are either too general with campaigns or too specific; we try to maintain a mix.  If you bid on very general keywords, you're going to accumulate higher costs per acquisition.  However, if your keywords are too specific, your costs may be low, but you won't get much traffic or many conversions.

What tips can you offer for people to create PPC ads that build credibility? 

Castellucci: If you have a retail location, try including this in your Ad.  Consumers tend to trust online retailers more when they know there is a brick and mortar location somewhere and it's not just some individual selling out of their basement.  Some of our ads will point out that we have a store across from Wrigley Field to help gain credibility.

Be straightforward in the Ad regarding where you'll be directing the customer.  Advertising one thing and then taking them to a page that sells something different will not only hurt your credibility, but it's just going to create wasted spend.  

How have you been able to increase conversions in your own PPC efforts? 

Castellucci: One of the easiest ways we've been able to increase conversions is by making specific AdGroups.  We do maintain general AdGroups that draw a lot of traffic, but as far as boosting conversions, you can't go wrong with including specific ads, especially if the timing is right.

A few years ago, there was a Cubs Hat that was designed like a Cubbie Bear with two tassels that came down and tied under your chin.  The hat was in extremely high demand for the first few months after it received television exposure, and having an AdGroup that targeted just keywords for this hat, displaying an Ad for this hat, and then taking the consumer to a page where they could purchase the hat, ended up being much more effective than simply adding a few of these keywords to our existing Cubs Hat AdGroup.  

In your experience, how has PPC changed in the last couple years?

Castellucci: At least in our industry, it has become a lot more competitive.  A few years ago, the big companies like MLB Shop and NFL Shop used to just bid on a few general keywords.  Now, it's obvious they have put more efforts into PPC and bid on more specific, long tailed keywords, as well.  It forces us to be more creative in our strategies and more aggressive in our bidding.

It has also become a lot easier for the average person to successfully manage a PPC campaign.  A few years ago, anybody could easily start their own PPC campaign, but managing it effectively took some knowledge and experience.  Now, the various PPC providers make it much simpler to manage with tons of walk through guides and automated features.  It has really started to even the playing field.

What rules of thumb do you use when creating PPC ads for conversions?

Castellucci: Target items that have a higher dollar amount.  It's not worth creating ads and keywords for a $5 decal or a $1 pencil.  While we do carry these items and want to sell them, we would need to convert on just about every click in order to make the cost per conversion beneficial.

Try to make more specific AdGroups, or use dynamic keywords in our Ads.  It'll really stand out to the consumer a lot more when they search for something like a Cubs Walking Bear Hat and those actual words show up in the ad, as opposed to just Cubs Hats.  However, we also make sure that when the consumer clicks that ad, it's actually going to take them to a Cubs Walking Bear Hat, otherwise, we're just accumulating wasted clicks.

Plus, anything you'd like to share about your own PPC efforts and how that's helping to grow Wrigleyvillesports.com. 

Castellucci: While the percent of sales from PPC has dropped a little over the past couple of years, it's still a pretty large part of our online efforts.  It's a great way to reach consumers who are looking for a specific item, and it's extremely beneficial to gain new customers when just starting out.  We just launched a new website a couple of years ago for one of our stores in a different market and PPC really helped draw in new consumers who would have not found us otherwise, or would have not found us as quickly.