Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding a muse - CPC doesn't work for everything

...or maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

Recently read The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, and loved it. I just wish I'd read it years ago when I had the opportunity to put it into practice before things got out of hand with the busyness and the tiredness and the being grumpy and depressed and not knowing why. I learnt a new word: "procrasterbating". Living in your email and reading industry articles on RSS and checking in on Twitter for updates isn't conducive to productivity or peace of mind, but it's weird how you somehow subconsciously rationalize it. I took the book's advice and went on a media fast, set up an email auto responder and turned off my email notified, unsubscribed from most of my RSS feeds, logged out of Twitter, and even stopped compulsively checking my inbox over breakfast, weekends, etc. and you know what? The world didn't end!

I can check most of the boxes for things from the book like working from home, having the freedom to travel & work abroad, pursuing interests in martial arts and language. Why is it that it's not until I see them presented in a book as something to strive for that I really appreciate them?

Anyway, been looking for a "muse", a means of generating residual income with minimum human intervention. Some time ago, I launched a site selling wine online. It's a niche market, selling imported European wines in Australia. It would appear to be an ideal candidate for becoming a muse, except that I haven't had much luck driving traffic to it from CPC ads.

The problem is two things:
* wine related keywords are expensive
* there's very little "local monthly volume"

Expensive keywords mean is that my margins are too tight. You can calculate your maximum CPC bid by starting with your revenue per sale, let's say $100 for example, and working with an anticipated conversion rate of 1% which would require 100 clicks per sale - a CPC of $1.00 would only see you break even. There aren't many worthwhile keywords that go for less than $1...

The low search volume for relevant keywords that get any kind of click through rate much over 0.05% basically means you don't get any clicks. AdWords will helpfully recommend hundreds of vaguely related keywords, but even if they do provide more clicks, their low relevance to your product will result in a lower conversion rate, which amounts to more money flowing out of your pocket and into Google's coffers...

My theory on this, and it's one I've seen proposed elsewhere, is that the people who actually click on ads fit into particular demographics that don't necessarily cover all products, services, and industries. There is a strong online community around wine, but search volumes suggest that online buyers are mostly looking for a bargain, not a $50 bottle of rare "noble rot" wine.

It's one thing to have a fully functional shopping cart hooked up to a cash register, but "build it and they will come" does not hold true at all. Where to go from here? Printed advertising probably.

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