Top 11 Tips for Picking a 2nd or 3rd Tier PPC Engine

Most optimization tips and instructional guides cover the big 3 of PPC search engines, Google, Yahoo and MSN. But what about all those little guys out there? Have you tried any of those yet? I’ll review some 2nd and 3rd tier interfaces in the coming weeks, how the traffic was, how much it was, the return on investment and the customer service. In the meantime, I’ve put together a short checklist of must do’s before deciding on whether or not take one of those lower tier PPC search engines for a drive. This doesn’t include sites that are content or publisher based.
1. Run some searches for your top keywords with their search engine, check out how much competition there is for your keywords and whether or not the other ads or results that appear are relevant enough to your products or services.
2. Make a live person contact you to start an account. Get their name and establish a relationship, so that if something goes wrong, you have an “in.” A lot of times, they have tools and staff that can take some of the work off your plate that isn’t available to the public.
3. Check the minimum deposit, if it’s enough to make you balk, it’s not worth it.
4. They had better offer more than one kind of match type.
5. Make sure you can edit ads and keyword lists after submittal yourself. If you have to fill in an Excel spreadsheet and mail it in each time, then they’re not savvy enough to be getting you the kind of traffic you need either.
6. Check out their own marketing to attract new customers. Are they listing benefits and features to their service or trying to distract you with a funny mascot and weird commercials? If it’s the later, go elsewhere.
7. Check their Alexa rankings. Just because they say they’re growing and can spout the number of searches per month, doesn’t make it true.
8. Google them. If all that comes back are press releases from 3 years ago, they’re not growing. If there’s a lot of chatter in forums, read those posts. See what the community is saying, not what they are claiming.
9. Tag everything and make sure their data will play nice with your analytics tool. If they can’t be compatible with at least Google Analytics, then something is wrong. At the very least they should then have their own tracking tools that require a snippet of code or clear pixel on the conversion page.
10. Be wary of whatever the new promotional item is. The sales reps have had it hammered into them that they need to be distinct from other PPC platforms and should make the hard sell for whatever tool or format that does that.
11. If it’s not working out, complain. Chances are as the little guy, they’re going to do what they can to keep you and to keep from creating bad press. And if they won’t do anything to make it right, threaten to blog about it. Loudly. Then blog about it with a social media blitz.

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  1. #3 rings particularly true. $500 may seem reasonable for a trial run, but if you don’t get the impressions to spend it, that’s money floating out in space not producing anything. It can add up quickly if you are trying a bunch of engines out at once with little/no return on investment.

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