Practical Ecommerce

How to Waste $4,000

How do you waste $4,000 in a few weeks? Patrick Coughlin knows. In fact, most ecommerce owners can attest to mistakes they made during the early phases of launching their new business.

Pat Coughlin and wifeCoughlin has owned and operated American Diamond Importers, an independent brick-and-mortar jewelry store in St. Clair, Mich., for almost 15 years. When he discovered he won an eBay ProStore’s contest, he quickly began implementing the steps necessary to revolutionize his traditional business model into one that included an online business and a global audience.

Coughlin’s goal to generate $1 million in sales from his online business within the first year is dependent upon his advertising and marketing success.

Remember to update landing page URLs

Coughlin kicked off his pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns at Google and Yahoo! about four weeks ago. His new website remains a work in progress, and his team continues to revise, relocate and create web pages. What costly mistake was made? Even though web pages were being added and relocated, Coughlin wasn’t updating the URL addresses at the PPC sites. Consequently, visitors accessing his site from search engine ads were being sent to the wrong landing pages at his site or were getting an error page.

“I have learned a valuable lesson,” Coughlin said. “It’s imperative that, for every ad out there, make sure the landing page is correct. If you’re going to manipulate your website by changing pages or categories, double check your ad campaign to make sure your landing pages change, too.”

Coughlin was establishing a campaign at MSN when, during a routine discussion with MSN, he discovered the URLs in the existing campaigns were pointing to the wrong pages. The business rang up about $4,000 in PPC charges before anyone discovered the snafu.

Not only does the wasted $4,000 bother Coughlin, he’s left wondering how many sales were lost.

“Twenty-five thousand dollars? Fifty thousand dollars?” Coughlin wondered aloud. “That’s what keeps me up at night.”

Coughlin said his new site is getting some traffic, but he’s unsure how many people have come to the site under the wrong pretense with the PPC errors. However, even though there is some traffic, Coughlin was expecting more traffic by now.

“It’s definitely not what I expected,” he said. “Maybe I was under a different illusion. I thought once we got the site up and working and I brought in the search engines, our sales would be through the roof.What we’re finding right now is that we’re getting about 200 new visitors daily, but out of that, we’re only getting 3-6 sales per day. I was hoping for a much greater response.” Despite the PPC landing page problems and the disappointment in the early traffic totals, Coughlin says he and his crew are still excited about the new endeavor.

He said the web team rings a brass bell and lets out a loud “yahoo” whenever a sale is registered.

Coughlin also remains enthusiastic about his PPC campaigns, and he is boosting his ad budget for the upcoming holiday season.

He started with $100 per day for each search engine and recently increased Google’s budget to $130 because the business was burning through $100 quickly at that site. During the Christmas season, he thinks the Google budget might go as high as $250 per day. Coughlin said the learning curve to operating an ebusiness has been frustrating, but his team remains excited about the holiday season and the coming year.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Legacy User January 4, 2007 Reply

    I´ve been following this story since it started and feel your pain on the PPC stuff. You have to manage that very closly to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck

    — *Dean*

  2. Legacy User January 18, 2007 Reply

    PPC is a tough game. I learned its best to bid on narrower key words (instead of broader keywords) and take the customer directly to the specific category page or better yet directly to the product page (depending on the keyword). The less clicks they are away from checking out the better.

    — *Fidjiti*

  3. Legacy User June 28, 2007 Reply

    First off…. SEO before PPC…. he could have spent $2,000 on a quality SEO campaign and it would have been incredible… hundreds of QUALITY backlinks, site optimized for keywords, a good forum, amazon and eBay business… it would have been incredible.

    Oh well

    — *Darrell*