Everyone wants more leads, right? This is probably your number 1 request from clients or upper management if you’re running pay-per-click campaigns (followed closely by “without increasing spend”). But the reality is you’re likely managing to a target cost per acquisition , so grabbing more volume isn’t as easy as jacking up bids and lifting your budgets.
The obvious answer to increasing conversions is focusing on conversion rate optimization, but we’ll walk through five slightly less obvious ideas worth testing that can help you grab more volume without ignoring your margins.
Idea 1: Keyword Expansion
The first idea is to try different keyword verticals and expand your keyword list. How do you do that? In all likelihood you’ve already brainstormed your initial list, used some traditional keyword tools , and mined your search query report . From here you want to think about going “wider and deeper” as we outlined in our post on expanding your keyword list . The idea here is to leverage tools that can offer additional, “wide” keyword suggestions you haven’t thought of yet, as well as going deeper into your own keyword targeting by mining not only your search query data but also your SEO data. From the post:
As you look to expand your paid search campaigns, you want to focus on two core means of discovery:
- "Wider" - Going "wider" means identifying new keyword verticals that didn't previously exist within your campaigns. This often comes in the form of new ad groups targeting wholly new keyword ideas that you hadn't previously introduced into your campaigns.
- "Deeper" - Going "deeper" in this context means mining your existing campaigns for new targeting opportunities. The best way to do this is by looking at the search query data generated by your existing campaigns.
Idea 2: Revisit Your Content Campaigns
First, make sure you’ve set up a content campaign. Next, give it some TLC. David Szetela wrote an excellent eBook on content network best practices  – it’s a bit older now but many of the principles still apply. By paying closer attention to your content network campaigns you may find opportunities to expand your reach by introducing banner ads, testing retargeting campaigns, and simply making your content network spend work harder for you.
Idea 3: Try New Platforms
Facebook and LinkedIn both have massive audiences with rapidly maturing PPC platforms and very interesting targeting options. Ad networks like AdKnowledge, AdBrite, Advertising.com, ContextWeb and several others offer large swaths of inventory that very well may work for your audience and often have much less competition than running campaigns through AdWords or even adCenter. You can also take some of the other third-tier search engines for a spin .
Idea 4: Increase Click-Through Rates
This one’s a bit tricky, because you have to increase qualified click-throughs, since we’re looking to add conversions without blowing out our CPA. How do we do that?
- Relevant Ads – Write ads that speak more to the searcher’s intent, but also make promises you’re fulfilling on your landing page. This means staying away from gimmicky ads that are eye-catching but drive the wrong prospects, and focusing on getting inside the mind of your searcher or visitor. Of course if that’s too tough for you, you can always just write a really bad ad about something she might Google, and Elisa will fix your ad for you .
- Better Campaign Structures – In addition to just tweaking your ads, you can also break down your paid search campaigns to create tighter, more relevant keyword groups, which will help enhance the effectiveness (and clickability) of your ad.
Idea 5: Test New Offer Types
A great way to get more conversions from existing traffic is to trying offering that traffic something different. For instance if your traditional lead type is a free trial of your product, try offering a white paper or a free tool. This can be particularly effective on the content network or for early-stage, informational keywords . Just make sure you understand how white papers and free tools convert into actual sales, so you can value them appropriately. For instance, if your free trial goal converts at 10 percent from a free trial to a sale, and only 1 percent of the people who download white papers go on to buy your product, you need more than 10 white paper downloads for every 1 trial to be confident making the switch (often with white papers and free tools this sort of ratio absolutely can and does add up, but make sure you’re tracking and testing).
Bonus Tip: Try Some CRO!
I know we said in the intro that the five tips wouldn’t focus on conversion optimization since it was a bit of an obvious one here, but this is a great means of lowering your conversion rates, and there are a lot of excellent, easy-to-use landing page software platforms (personally I’m a big fan of Unbounce ) available at affordable prices.
About the Author
Tom Demers  is co-founder and managing partner at Measured SEM search engine marketing consulting , a boutique search marketing agency offering search engine marketing services  ranging from pay-per-click account management to search engine optimization and link building services .