Improved PPC Marketing Performance from Time-Tested 80/20 Principle

As marketers and business owners, we're always looking for "the next big idea or strategy" to maximize our business performance. Yet, the application of time-tested principles consistently achieve greater results over efforts to create newer ideas and strategies.

For example, Stephen Covey's New York Times best-selling and world-renowned book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-proclaimed synthesis of principles taught by great teachers and philosophers over 150 years ago 1. The world-wide success of this book is evidence to the time-resistant power of principles.

In addition, many hugely successful Internet Marketers generated significant fortunes from applying 50 to 75 year old direct mail principles to the new Internet medium. Marketing strategies used by greats like Claude Hopkins, Robert Collier and John Caples have significant application in today's digital environment.

Although pay-per-click marketing is a relatively new Internet marketing strategy, its performance relates well to an old principle called "Pareto's Law" or better known as "the 80/20 Principle".

The meaning of the 80/20 Principle is best explained by a recent book, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less", written by Richard Koch:

"The 80/20 Principle states that there is an inbuilt imbalance between causes and results, inputs and outputs, and effort and reward. 80/20 relationships typically will show that 80% of outputs result from 20% of inputs; that 80% of consequences flow from 20% of causes; or that 80% of results come from 20% of effort." 2

When applied to pay-per-click marketing, 80% of outputs (or desired visitor actions on your website), result from 20% of the inputs (your keywords.)

Applying the 80/20 Principle to Pay-per-Click Marketing

One of the benefits of running a pay-per-click marketing campaign is the control gained from selecting keywords to bid on. In essence, the keywords you select enable you to target specific types of individuals among varying demographics and at various points within their buying cycle.

But because it is difficult to know specifically which keywords (inputs) will ultimately generate the most actions (outputs) the process of "keyword selection" should be applied liberally. This means that all possible keyword variations and associations should be selected to figuratively "blanket" or span across all potential search queries for your products or services. By relying on your keyword-level tracking system, over time, the resulting website actions will sort the top performing keywords from the poor-performing ones.

Under the 80/20 Principle, if you initially select 1,000 keywords for your pay-per-click marketing campaign, over a month or two depending on visitor volume, your keyword-level tracking system will uncover 20% of keywords that produce 80% of your results. Likewise, the 80/20 Principle will expose roughly 80% of the 1,000 keywords selected that produce minimal to no results.

Aside from seasonality variations and marketplace trends that effect keyword performance, the 80/20 Principle pinpoints a significant operational process that all Internet marketers should implement immediately. By tracking your pay-per-click marketing campaign at the keyword level and identifying the specific keywords that produce maximum results, you can eliminate roughly 80% of your poor-performing keywords. Through this "keyword filtration process" you will re-allocate budget dollars to the top performing keywords and reduce keyword management time spent on poor-performing ones.

Remember These 5 Keys?

1. During your keyword selection process, "blanket" your target market with every relevant keyword variation and association used by your target market to find your products or services. Use Overture or Google Adwords' editorial review to define the relevancy boundaries (or "the ends of the blanket") for your target market.

2. Define at least one value-oriented action such as an opt-in, subscription, registration or sale that you seek a visitor to perform on your website. This action (called your "marketing objective") is the determination point for measuring how your keywords are performing.

3. Implement keyword-level tracking to identify which 20% of your keywords produce 80% of your actions.

4. Pay close attention to seasonality variations and marketplace trends that may cause fluctuations in keyword performance. Instead of eliminating all 80% of your poor performing keywords, identify the most relevant ones to your products and services and the ones with the highest demand volume and work on adjusting their bids, re-writing their titles and descriptions or re-engineering their landing pages to increase their performance.

5. If branding is your primary objective as opposed to "performance" remove your brand-oriented keywords from your 80/20 Principle analysis and associated performance metrics.

Analyze your pay-per-click marketing against the 80/20 Principle to see if an imbalance exists between your inputs (keywords) and outputs (actions). You will discover that a simple revamp of your pay-per-click marketing campaign will significantly increase your visitor-to-action conversion rates, reduce your cost per action and enable a more efficient allocation of your budget across your top performing keywords.


1 Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (New York, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1989) pg. 18.

2 Richard Koch, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less (New York: DoubleDay, 1998) pg. 4.

Kevin Gold is a Partner and Co-founder of Enhanced Concepts, Inc., which specializes in turning website visitors into leads and sales through tested website conversion strategies and performance-focused search engine marketing. To learn how to generate greater performance from your search engine marketing and to turn more website visitors into leads and sales go to

In The News:

Google PPC Ads in a Nutshell  Business 2 Community
Digital Marketing Analyst  Charlotte Agenda
What Is Ethical PPC?  Search Engine Journal
7 Ways SEO & PPC Can Help Each Other  Search Engine Journal
5 PPC Trends to Get Ready for in 2020  Search Engine Journal
5 Innovative PPC Tactics to Try Today  Search Engine Journal
SEO vs. PPC: Which Is Better for Your Business in 2020  99Signals - Tech News, Tech Hacks, & More
Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020  Search Engine Journal
How to Develop Your PPC Strategy  Search Engine Journal

PPC Advertising Explained

Advertising on the Internet has always been a bit of... Read More

Google AdWords - A Quick Overview for Beginners

First of all, you know as well that Google is... Read More

Advertising Your Home Business With Pay Per Click Can Be Risky

An unfortunate byproduct of the pay per click advertising business... Read More

Google Adwords ? Online Riches Without Owning A Website Or Product!

Did you know that you can make money from Google... Read More

What is Google AdSense?

AdSense may be one of the fastest and easiest ways... Read More

Not Sure If Your Online Advertisement is Working?

Without tracking, your online advertising is just a shot in... Read More

Dynamic Resource for Adsense: 3 Practical Models Quickly Earn & Maximize Google Adsense Revenue

Looking back in time, I could still remember standing in... Read More

Stop Whining About Google!

Blame GameNearly anyone and everyone involved with search engine optimization... Read More

Google AdSense - A Quick Overview For Beginners

In Google AdWords, the advertisers' links show up when someone... Read More

How To Win The War of Pay per Click Advertising.

Do you know what is the most important question among... Read More

Pay Per Click or Pay Per Human Browser?

Pay Per Click advertising has been around a few years... Read More

Posturing Yourself As The Expert By Utilizing Google Search

First, go to google and type "dan kennedy" into the... Read More

Ten Tips for Affiliate Marketers Using Google AdWords

One of the hottest ways to sell affiliate products is... Read More

Another Advantage To Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Web marketing has taken on many different shapes during the... Read More

Yahoo! Publisher Network - The Next AdSense?

Yahoo announced that their Publisher Network, formerly available in the... Read More

Relevant Ads Increase Adsense Profits

If you've started using Adsense as a way to increase... Read More

Adsense Tricks to Explode Your Profits

Lots of people say to make your ads blend in.... Read More

Market Research Means Money

I recently made a critical mistake in my progression towards... Read More

How to Master Google AdWords - Part 1

Then most difficult aspect of marketing a new product or... Read More

Google Adsense, The Smart Way To Earn

Do you want to get paid for posting ads on... Read More

Paying for Website Visitors: The Allure of PPC for Small Biz Owners

There are good reasons why many webmasters and website owners... Read More

Advertising Your Work From Home Internet Business With PPC Search Engines

If you want to make money online with a work... Read More

ClickBank Affiliate Woes: When Tracking Breaks Down

Hardly a day goes by without a forum posting in... Read More

Affiliate Strategies Of Pay Per Click Search Engines

Where are your ads being displayed?The Untold Secret Of Pay... Read More

Adsense, Boost Your Payout 400%, No Really

How?Dead easy.I implemented this tactic myself yesterday on one of... Read More