One client called recently and asked whether he should spend his advertising dollar on a Google AdWords PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising campaign or the usual Yellow Pages.

This anecdote was originally written in May 2012, but I’ve since updated some of it for relevance in July / August 2013. Google is presently changing the way search results are delivered because people have been abusing the system for many years. You can read the rest of this article by clicking here.

A Yellow Pages meeting

Not having much experience with print-based advertising, I had an open mind. “It depends on how successful the existing Yellow Pages ad is,” was my response. As is increasingly the case with print media, my client wasn’t too impressed, but being old school, his loyalties lay with what he knew. I get the feeling that some of my clients feel a bit nervous about the web.

Most forms of traditional ads are poorly targeted. Yellow Pages ads can open the floodgates to begging phone calls and door-knockers. Having said that, the web also attracts its fare share of tyre-kickers and weirdos. Anonymity is a dangerous thing.

I agreed to attend a meeting with both my client and a Yellow Pages marketing girl – to see if I could learn anything new.

The marketing girl went through her spiel. She lost me at Hello. It seemed like they’d badged and branded about 10 packages – each piggy-backing onto each other in a chaotic frenzy of print and online advertising. Maybe this sales girl wasn’t too great. I know that my client was getting annoyed by the double-speak adverteez.

The short story is that Yellow Pages seems to offer (and brand) a multitude of extremely confusing “packages”. It turns out that my clients is paying thousands of dollars for an ad in a book which my Mum chucks in the bin (“The text is too small and I prefer the net now”) and I use as a monitor stand. I really had no idea what the girl was talking about and if I’m even slightly confused, my wallet beds deeper into my pocket. They’d packaged and branded many of the things that I am vaguely familiar with but it was all “reworded for the sell”. The interesting thing was – every single package included the print version. It’s impossible to NOT have a physical listing in their paper directory (which I think is nuts).

Okay. Some people still read the Yellow Pages. In my client’s case, many of his readers are mature, non-tech-savvy clients who do still use the Yellow Pages.

My client asked what I thought about the marketing spiel. I shrugged.

“Four-thousand dollars for an online ad is VERY expensive. If you spend that on a strategic online campaign, you’d have to take on staff.”

Once the girl had left I turned to my client.

“Let’s see what I can do with a 2 week Google AdWords campaign.”

The bottom line for his previous year’s Yellow Pages campaign amounted to about $35 spent for each phone call. Most calls were from tyre-kickers wanting the cheapest solution.

Google Adwords

AdWords is different to coming up in a normal Google search. Specifically, you bid on keywords and if you win a bid, an ad is displayed whenever that keyword (or phrase) is entered as a search term into Google. The ad appears in a prominent position on a Google search result page.

Ads cost from a few cents per click right through to $100+ for a very competitive keyword. In most cases they average around $1-$2 per click. How expensive a click is depends on the competition in your industry and how your industry is perceived by marketers. More often than not an ad will appears on page 2 if someone outbids you. It’s like eBay, but with micro-payments. You can appear on page one thousands of times before someone actually clicks on your ad and you only pay for clicks. In one regard you could think of non-clicks as free exposure for your brand. I’ve had some success with phone numbers in ads.

One of the campaigns I like to run for clients is on brand name. The campaign doesn’t garner too many clicks but it helps increase brand awareness – even for a very small businesses like mine (Geoffrey).

Let Geoffrey Multimedia run a Google Adwords Campaign

I now run several AdWord campaigns for clients. It’s $225 for me to set up (and write three ads) and then $30 per day for me to manage each ad. How much a clients spends on actual clicks is up to the client, but what I do is this;

  • $225 set up account and write 3 ads
  • $20 per day to manage and tweak Ads
  • Up to $2 per in-bound click on average (depending on your competition)
  • Clicks become cheaper over time, so short runs are more expensive
  • Each keyword bid is adjusted daily to maximise clicks
  • You can pause each or all of your ads any time
  • You can resume an ad any time (without paying for me to set it up again) – even years later

It’s not even a fraction of the cost of Yellow Pages and the phone rings pretty quickly.

I will stop a campaign when (as was my case) you get too much work and you can also pause / refocus individual ads if your business turns in a different direction. Unlike Yellow Pages – where you might have to wait several months or even a year to change one aspect of your ad – you can stop and start new campaigns or write new ads instantly.

It was no bother when one client decided to change his phone number for example.

I received an email from one client who received 5+ phone calls which led to 2 long term contracts after spending only $20/day for about 10 days straight. I’d recommend at least a $45/day budget (including me managing the campaign). One client (on a tight budget) spent only $33 per day which didn’t leave much room for clicks. You have to find a happy medium and monitor your ads to phone calls / web visits. Using a phone number that can only be found in the ad is the best way to monitor the effectiveness of a campaign.

I spend quite a bit of time on each ad campaign so my clients are certainly getting their money’s worth. I check and adjust keyword prices first thing every morning and again in the late afternoon. I was very please to get click prices down to less than 50c in the case of one client (we started the ad campaign spending $3.50 on each click ion the first week).

Clients who are gingerly spending their Yellow Pages budget on me and my AdWord campaigns are reaping the rewards. I genuinely hate to see people not getting good value and after just a few weeks doing this, the Yellow Pages option felt totally outdated and random.

I’d love to hear (in the comments below – you can remain anonymous if you wish) from anyone who has had good or bad experiences with print advertising and how you think it compares with an online ad campaign. And naturally, if you’d like us to run a Google Pay-per-click Adwords campaign on your behalf, get in touch today.