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Before you embark on a potentially expensive paid search campaign, consider this one insight that could change your mind.

While Pear focuses on organic search (SEO), we do mingle around and talk to a lot of experts in paid search. Experts who work paid search campaigns day in and day out. The other day I learned something very interesting.

The longer the sales cycle in your business, the worse your paid search campaign could perform.

In fact, if it takes you longer than 2 weeks to close a potential lead from click to sale, then paid search might not be a great fit for you. This is not an off-the-cuff statement, but rather a conclusion based on a long history of data obtained by a close partner in the business. Now there are always going to be exceptions to the rule, and there are many other factors that go into paid search ROI, but this is a good rule of thumb, and here’s why.

Paid search works better when an impulse action (like a purchase or contact) is involved. Let’s look at a few examples:

search engine marketingPlumbing Service – your bathroom had a backup and is flooded with raw sewage. Do you search 15 plumbers and call for quotes? Not likely. You choose the first or second option you see based on the most credible looking, easiest to contact (maybe they are open 24-hours or offer emergency response) plumber. You probably don’t care much about the price either – you just want it fixed.

Real Estate – most of us don’t buy property in less than 2 weeks. We look at lots of options, talk to lots of people, make personal visits and collect a lot of information before making the final purchase. This is definitely not an impulse purchase. Paid search can work in this case if the margins are high enough to where even if the conversions are dismal, one sale could pay for the whole campaign.

Air Conditioning Repair – it’s already in the 90 degrees here in Texas and turning on your AC is a necessity. Like the plumber, you need the next available company to service your system, and the first or second listing will get the lead.

Home Health Care – getting a parent or loved one into a home health care situation is an emotional experience. Not only is the sales cycle longer than 2 weeks, but the decision is usually not with one person, which makes it a harder deal to close. If clicks are going for $5-10 a piece, you could spend hundreds before getting a new client.

What do you think?  Do you have any examples to share?

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