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When was the last time you advertised in the Yellow Pages? Decades? Never? If you’re like most marketers, you’ve been using PPC ad platforms like Facebook, Google, and Yelp to generate leads and customers. You’ve probably spent time optimizing your PPC strategy for mobile. Given all your hard work, have you noticed your revenue isn’t where you want it to be? Does your ad ROI fluctuate inconsistently? Have you been demonetized by YouTube, or dropped by Google?
If you’re looking for a strategy to boost and maintain your revenue, stop perfecting your keywords, headlines, and ad copy and start generating partnerships. That’s where the stable and long-term money is.
Partnerships based on personal relationships are more stable than PPC ads
By generating personal relationships with other businesses, you bypass the possibility of being dropped without explanation. Establishing a partnership with another business owner based in integrity means you’ll both be committed to communicating with each other. If the partnership isn’t working, they won’t cut you off and disappear. You’ll be able to have the clarifying conversations you can’t have with impersonal corporations like Google. With a personal partnership, you can negotiate, compromise, and come to any agreement you want.
That doesn’t mean you need to drop PPC ads. PPC ads are a good supplement to your advertising partnerships. If you’ve got a PPC strategy but no partnerships, here’s how to get started:
1. Actively pursue partnerships with authority websites
An authority website is more than a site that contains authoritative information on a subject. You want to partner with sites relevant to your niche that are visible in the search engines and generate a significant amount of organic traffic. Don’t go for the low-hanging fruit; it’s not worth the effort. For example, you could invest 200 hours of your time partnering with 100 low-traffic websites to generate 5,000 views per month. Or, you can spend the same amount of time (or less) pursuing two or three partnerships with high-traffic websites and generate 500,000 views per month.
Partnerships will help you gain search engine visibility
One of your goals should be gaining visibility in the search engines. In the past, people used authority sites like Wikipedia to get a boost by adding their website to the list of resources. Most resource links get deleted on Wikipedia, so that’s not a good strategy. Today, the best strategy is to find sites that are visible in the search engines like comparison, top 10, and review sites. For example, Top10.com is highly visible in the search engines for a wide range of subjects. They’ve been around for a while and have proven their stability, which is something you should take into consideration for any potential partnership.
Most review/top/comparison sites actively consider partnerships because they know it helps them, too. They want your support as much as you want theirs.
2. Follow partnership request requirements
When a website provides you with requirements for pursuing a partnership, always follow their instructions. If they ask you to send a quick email, then send them a quick email. If you don’t hear back in a few weeks, then it’s appropriate to pursue the connection through other means. Like a phone call or postal inquiry. Let them know you followed their instructions and didn’t hear back. Tell them you want to make sure they received your inquiry, and if not, provide them with the opportunity to respond.
If a website doesn’t provide specific instructions for inquiring about a partnership, sending an email asking for a partnership isn’t enough. Find a phone number or mailing address and get in touch personally.
Think about it. An established website in any niche will have a significant amount of targeted traffic. They’ve worked hard to generate that traffic, and they’re not going to take you seriously if you email them unsolicited and say, “hey, what’s up, would you like to partner with me?” They won’t know who you are, even if you tell them in your email.
Pursuing partnerships with established websites requires pursuing a personal connection with the business owner or people in charge. Casual emails don’t make a good first impression when your intention is to establish a mutually beneficial advertising relationship.
3. Don’t drop out of the PPC game but be discerning of your platforms
As stated earlier, PPC ads are a great supplement to long-term advertising partnerships. That doesn’t mean you should continue using the same platforms and strategies. Rather than trying to figure out what you might be doing wrong, scrutinize each PPC platform and eliminate platforms that provide ambiguous or simplified metrics. You can’t improve your ads on a platform that doesn’t give you access to detailed metrics. The reality is, some platforms don’t provide useful metrics.
Yelp, for example, makes it hard to identify how your ads affect your sales. The only metrics you have access to are impressions and clicks. When you’ve claimed your Yelp listing, you can see how many mobile calls were made through the Yelp platform and how many clicks your website got, but they don’t tell you if any of those people viewed your ads. That’s not a good sign.
Here’s a case study detailing the effects of Yelp’s limited metrics. The author explains that it’s nearly impossible to figure out ROI from Yelp ads. In trying to estimate this figure, they had to go through a significantly detailed and arduous process, which didn’t end up painting an accurate picture of ROI in the end. They also discovered the cost per lead on Yelp to be 3.3 times higher compared to Google AdWords.
The lesson here is never blindly trust the data you see on your PPC platform’s dashboard; always test the quality of calls you’re getting. A call is not necessarily a lead, and that’s something a digital dashboard can’t differentiate for you.
4. Try out other PPC platforms
You’re not limited to Yelp, Google, and Facebook. A handful of new ad networks have emerged, and some have already established a solid reputation. Be aware that many of these networks have monthly traffic requirements for publishers, and that’s a plus when you’re the advertiser. It means your ads won’t be displayed on spammy websites that use bots to click on ads and waste your dollars.
Partnerships are worth the effort
Establishing an advertising partnership with a human being isn’t a guarantee to lifelong revenue. It’s an opportunity to create a level of stability impossible to establish with computer algorithms that police the popular ad networks.