Internet marketing can be a little like chess; it takes minutes to learn, but years to master. This dynamic can be frustrating to business owners and marketers who aren't seeing the return on investment they expected from their websites or ad campaigns. Just like in chess, internet marketers must be strategic in their approach and use every tool to their tactical advantage. To help you improve your marketing game, here are eight easy ways to improve your ROI on pay per click ads.

  1. Use Exact Keyword Matches in Some Ads
    Keywords are the lifeblood of the PPC ads. More so than demographics, the keywords a person uses when searching or on the websites they visit, demonstrate a consumer's intent when they are online. You can improve the effectiveness of PPC campaigns by using exact keyword matches. An exact keyword match means that the ad will only show when a certain phrase is used and no other words are allowed. This limits the reach of the ad, but when done properly, the people who see the ad will be the ones most likely to buy. For example, if car dealer wants to sell a 2006 Honda Civic, they can use the exact keywords "2006 honda civic price". Anyone who searches for that phrase is very likely to be looking for the price so they can buy the car. This makes them the perfect audience for an ad for the car with a nice picture and a good price.
  2. Run Ads at the Right Time
    Targeting the right audience is important, but it doesn't matter if the ad is shown to them at the wrong time. Every audience is different, in some cases, there may be a trend where ads perform better during a certain time of day. Most ad networks allow users to schedule their ads for the days and time periods that work best for them. For example, if an ad for a local shoe store performs better during NBA games, the ads can be scheduled accordingly.
  3. Use Negative Keywords
    Another way to fine tune an campaign is by using negative keywords. This removes ads that contain a keyword that denotes the ad would be shown to the wrong audience. To illustrate, a men's clothing store can use "women" as a negative keyword, because anyone searching for a women's article of clothing (e.g. women's leather jacket) won't click on an ad for the men's clothing store. Similarly, a business that sells expensive, high-end goods can use "cheap" as a negative keyword because it would prevent them from showing the ad to people looking for knock-off and imitation brands.
  4. Improve your Quality Score
    For marketers who use Google Adwords, one way to improve ROI is to improve the Quality Score of the ad. The score is based on how often the ad and how often consumers convert after clicking the ad. Since Google makes more money from successful ads, ads with high quality scores get better placement. Check the Quality Scores of your ads so you can see what works the best for your audience.
  5. Setup Highly Targeted Campaigns
    It's important to create multiple campaigns to target different audiences. For any product or service, it will appeal to different groups of consumers for various reasons. Trying to use just one ad to reach all these groups is a recipe for poor ROI. Marketers need to make multiple ads and target them specifically to each group. Ask, what kinds of people would want to use the product and what kind of ad can explain the value to them the best.
  6. Use Targeted Landing Pages
    Getting a customer to click an ad is only half the battle. Ad clicks alone don't generate revenue. Marketers can greatly improve their ROI by adding to the landing page that customers reach when they click an ad. Research has shown that adding video to landing pages increases conversions. Also, marketers can test their landing pages to make sure it's quick and easy to convert once the customer arrives. Targeted landing pages are designed to give a specific page to different users depending on which ad they clicked.
  7. Keywords in Ad Copy
    Be sure to include keywords in the ad copy as well as in the targeting information. Including the keywords in the ad copy help catch the viewers attention, since these are words they are looking for as they scan the age, overtly or subconsciously. Depending on the ad format, the keywords may be in bold or made to stand out in some way that can help increase attention and clicks on the ad.
  8. Track and Test
    It's important for marketers to accurately track the results of their PPC campaigns. There are a lot of ways to add variations to an ad or its targeting that can affect results. By trying new combinations and tracking results, marketers can find the most effective ad type and target audience. Some possible variations to try include different background colors for the ad or a different call to action.

These tips won't make you a grandmaster of internet marketing chess, but they are the buidling blocks of a successful PPC strategy. For more tips on how to improve the effectiveness of ads, read this article on how sales can drive people to click on ads and buy more when they get there.