Happy New Year all, hope you had a great holiday!

As we kick off 2013, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the startup learnings we’ve had over the past year…

Our business has been growing at a massive rate, and while most of that has been via word-of-mouth and “Earned Media” from our press releases (like this one) we have also been running contextually relevant PPC campaigns. My background was in building and growing “The Measurable Marketing Company”, (now a part of Possible Worldwide), so as you might imagine I’m pretty focused on the numbers and relative performance of the different options available to us. The results have been very interesting in many ways, but here’s the biggest eye-opener we’ve had:

AdWords works, LinkedIN doesn’t.

AdWordsOver the past 60 days we’ve found that our AdWords campaign is generating a lot of great leads at an average CPC of < $1. Of those visitors we’re seeing a conversion to actual customers of over 15%, with an average time on our site of several minutes.

However, LinkedIN has a minimum bid of $2 per click, so you’re never going to get cheaper than that. Our ads are performing well there, but here’s the kicker… The average time spent on our site from LinkedIN sourced customers is just 51 seconds, and ZERO percent of them have ever converted into a real paying customer.

Now, before you jump up and down saying it’s apples to oranges let me state a couple of disclaimers:

a) Our results are specific to our business, and may not extend to your business or any other for that matter.

b) In both cases, the campaigns were targeted to specific customer profiles / keywords. The Ad Text’s were contextually relevant and led directly to one of our sub-brand websites that related to that campaign. (for example: www.FANtastic4Restaurants.com)

c) We ran dozens of different Ad Creatives / versions, against many different keywords resulting in thousands of impressions – so the above results are pretty aggregate and therefore I believe representative.

Frankly, I’m pretty shocked by this. I really expected the targeted ads on LinkedIN to perform much better, as I thought it would be a self-selected target market based on people declaring their job profiles / careers – rather than Google’s mass approach limited only by the keywords people are searching for.

It’s worth pointing out also that both campaigns were pointing to the same landing pages, so there’s no potential for differing efficiencies in landing page versions.

Take what you will from this, but I know where we’ll be shifting our ad budgets in 2013.

Good luck with marketing your start-up, and wishing you all massive growth this year!