Niche products, volume, PPC, landing pages and matters arising
I was talking with someone the other day about the challenges faced with getting new business for what was a very niche product. The product is the type that has limited demand, is very niche but adds huge value to the people who want it.
We briefly talked about what they do and how they currently do it, what appears to work and what doesn’t. We touched upon the various online channels particularly with regard to PPC, SEO and Social media. I didn’t get too deep, but my takeaway was that it wasn’t really working as well as they’d liked or expected.
It might be useful to others, to run through a few things as they come to me. Nothing too structured, just a general meander through some of the issues and what we can at least begin to try and do about them.
Pay Per Click Ads
PPC is of course great in theory. There’s a wide range of tools available that enable folks to selectively target search terms and localities tied to a budget theoretically enabling people to find people in search mode and deliver them a best fit experience for their query.
Of course this sounds ideal and whilst in terms of easily identifiable ROI is a far improvement on a channel like local print media, it still falls short.
The biggest issue for niche product providers is often in volume. Let’s take a term like ‘counselling courses’ and let’s assume that it’s a business serving the city of London.
Today, according to the Google Adwords tool, for what appears to be a very modest budget of £100 per day, a business looking for people using the search term of ‘counselling courses’ could expect around 20 clicks.
This is based on 570 ad impressions for a bid rate of £2 per click with a total spend range of between £24.50 – £30.
If we up the minimum bid a little to say £5 per click then we end up paying around £78 per day and we’ll get an estimated 31 clicks.
Within the above, we’ll have to account for a little ‘ad curiosity’ from competitors and general tyre kickers.
It’s tough to get an accurate figure for what this will be but we can be pretty sure it goes on.
The good news is that Google provides tools that enable you to block certain IP addresses from seeing your ads, so a competitor that rocks up daily and clicks your ads costing you money can, over time be blocked.
The bad news is that it’s all a little bit reactive and that once you’ve been charged, then it’s a bit of struggle to get refunds, and of course more than a techno headache to identify them in the first place, especially if you’re not very technical.
Getting back to the general cost, we should of course be tracking our clicks and see how well they convert. We’ll need to define what exactly counts as a conversion as these can vary from business to business. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that for this example we are measuring the final sale as evidence of a conversion.
Our visitor has clicked on an ad, has landed on our fantastically put together landing page, and has signed up for a course that we charge £495-00 for our.
Our hypothetical one day event course cost breakdown excluding course materials might be something like:
- Venue room hire: £150
- Refreshments and lunch:£15 per person
So, at the upper click tier we can see that we need at least 5.5 people to sign up just to break even and 6 to make a profit.
This would appear to be relatively easy to attain. After all, potentially over 1000 people could be clicking through to our advert in a 30 day period, meaning that we only need to convert at a rate of 0.6% to begin to make some money.
Great. But is it? And how easy it to convert at those levels? How many people are simply curious? How many people can make it to the venue on the dates outline? How many people will really believe in the product enough to sign up? How many people will hit the back button and research other courses?
Let’s explore that a little further.
The answers to these intangibles might well be academic but it’s certainly useful to think about them and when we do, we begin to appreciate the ways in which the web is accessed and structured. Through doing so we can begin to address them and hopefully reduce fall outs, tail offs or whatever else you’d like to call them.
So, why would someone hit a back button?
It’s useful to draw up a list and ask ourselves questions that might deter a sign up.
Lack of information on page, no method of payment, too expensive, lack of confidence in the product, venue date unsuitable, wasn’t really interested anyway, too much information/page confusing/poor layout.
Let’s explore these now.
Lack of information on page
Our page should show all that relevant stuff like time, date, course information, intended audience, speaker info, benefits, reasons to attend, travel options,sign up page, payment options, contact options of addresses and telephone numbers, social media presence.
It sounds like state the obvious but how many people fall at this hurdle? We really need to check and recheck that we are providing the absolute minimum at worst.
In some scenarios it might be easier to create a mini site that gives extensive supplemental info, especially for courses that are likely to be repeated over and over. Where this isn’t feasible, then consider ensuring that a link or banner to your course page is dominantly displayed throughout the domain. If you are running more than one course then ensure that this links through to a core courses landing page.
No method of payment available
Having payment options is really important, especially when it comes to of the moment PPC transactions where a person has cost YOU money just to read your content.
You want to get that person whilst they are in buy mode, you want them to sign up NOW, you need to do everything you can to encourage them to do so.
Thankfully there are great tools out there that enable to make such things a whole lot easier.
Paypal also offer a suite of businesses integrations that make taking money and payments that much easier. Worldpay is another.
What is the market saying? Are you competitive? What is your USP, why use you over a competitor?
It goes without saying that you should know exactly what it is you are bringing to the table and what it is you are offering your prospective sign ups.
How will using you make their lives easier? How will paying you £495 get them to where it is that they think they need to be? Is your sales copy answering these questions? Will an early bird sign up be that all important carrot that’ll make the difference?
You have to try and communicate the value of your product and tell people how it’ll enrich their lives.
Lack of confidence in the product
Related to the above really, but what is it about your product that sets it apart? Do you have testimonials from others who have used you previously? Video citations perhaps?
As simple as it sounds, you really do need to bolster your product, Don’t just assume that everyone will have heard of you. The world’s a big place. Try and create a feeling that what you offer is special. Limit spaces, make it exclusive.
People like to feel that they are a part of something special, something that is of limited resource, something that has value. Try and create that.
Venue date/ Venue unsuitable
People often lead busy lives with limited opportunities and time to do things that are important to them.
Is it possible to offer multiple dates? Can this be a monthly gig? Maybe you can run your event in multiple locations at different times? Call it a travelling roadshow perhaps.
The easier you make it for people to attend, the more likely it is that they’ll sign up and the more likely it is that your PPC click won’t be wasted.
Wasn’t really interested anyway
Tyre kickers and time wasters are a fact of life. If you track your visitors and what it is they do and notice that IP address xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx keeps costing you money, then once a month perhaps, you can go through your web logs and identify and exclude them from future click activity. If you’re a little devilish you can even serve them up custom messages comprising hi, feck and off
Too much information/page confusing/poor layout
Consider how your content looks to your visitors. make it logical, include calls to action and don’t over load your visitors. Consider using expandable sections, use positive imagery, ensure that your buy now buttons are visible both at the top and the bottom of the page. Ensure that your content renders across platforms catering for the dizzying array of devices that people use on the web.
If you can afford it, consider talking to a conversion optimization specialist to see if they can help or guide you further.
PPC is of course but one tiny facet of the web economy and I couldn’t possibly begin to cover them all today, it’s just too big a piece with too many overlaps but perhaps it’s at least sparked a dendrite or two.