Many small and mid-sized businesses still think that the term ‘advertising’ equals a heinously expensive radio slot or handing out a bunch of flyers at the traffic lights to nervous drivers. Is this still the case? Let’s examine a few facts and figures which may influence our marketing choices in the future.
The move towards paid digital ads has become something of a tsunami as more businesses see the benefits of PPC marketing as a valuable business advertising tool. Yes, we know that the digital world is full of acronyms, anagrams, and abbreviations but PPC is something that you – as a small business owner – should be sure to understand.
What is PPC Marketing?
PPC marketing, or pay-per-click marketing, makes use of googles algorithm to deliver targeted ads to a specific audience. As you can tell from the name, the advertiser only pays when a user clicks on their ad.
Types of PPC Ads
The most common pay per click ad is the paid search ad which is triggered when a particular keyword or search term is imputed by a user into the Google search bar. (More on this later.)
PPC ads can also come in the form of display ads which feature on a website without entering a search term. Many display ads are set up to show to a certain audience within an age range, location, or within an interest group and will feature a striking image and a call to action.
Remarketing is another form of PPC advertising which retargets users who have already visited your website or a specific page. While these all certainly have their place, we’re going to focus today on the value of paid search ads.
Neil Patel weighs in saying, “When starting a new company, finding ways to grow your business is a top priority. A lot of people instantly turn to social media marketing as their go-to. And why not? It’s one of the best ways to build an active, engaged brand presence. It’s also a great method to bring in new customers.
“But the average return on investment in social media isn’t that stellar. On top of that, it takes hours each week just to maintain an active presence and post with enough frequency to bring in new traffic. So what do you do instead? How do you bring in consistent sales that can help you grow your business? Paid search. PPC. Paid search is one of the best ways to drive new sales.”
How Does Pay-Per-Click Work?
PPC ads are an excellent tool to use for commercial searches, that is when people are looking to buy something. The whole process runs on an ad auction which takes seconds to process.
The system is exceptionally clever and geared toward being as fair as possible. At the same time, Google is a business and not a charity, so your maximum bid set to your keywords determines your ads fate.
An Overview of PPC Processes
- You create an ad in your Google Ads account: During this process, you’ll choose keywords which relate to your product and enter the information relevant to what your user may be searching for online.
- When the user clicks on your ad, they will be sent to a landing page or a product page which will present them with the information where they can make a purchase: You will also set the duration of the ad campaign as well as your budget, including max bids for keywords, this tells Google how much you are prepared to pay for a click when your ad shows up in a search.
- Once your ads are set up, Google will review them to ensure that they are not breaking any rules and that they are set up correctly.
- Once your ads have been approved Google’s algorithms take over: When a user within the location and demographic you’ve selected enters a search that includes any of the keywords that you have selected as a target, Google will run their ad.
This will include weighting factors such as:
- The quality of your ad
- The quality of your landing page
- The relevance of your ads to the search
- The amount you are willing to pay for the click
The winner of the ad auction will be shown at the top of the page, with the runners up below in descending order.
As an overview, that looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? Can you do it yourself? Of course you can, in much the same way as you can give yourself a colonoscopy. It’s possible – it’s just not always recommended.
PPC vs SEO
Now just wait one second, back up here. Why would I, as a small business owner, want to get involved in a tricky and costly PPC ad campaign when there are other ways to get people to my website? You’re likely talking about SEO, and that’s an excellent question.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is another tool in the Digital Arsenal of a Smart Business Owner which companies of all sizes should definitely be making use of. Simply put, SEO is the practice of creating and distributing quality content which the search engines see as valuable and which they will serve in response to online searches.
For example, an entertaining, authoritative, and well-written blog article that answers a specific question will be promoted by search engines and can rank on the first page right beneath the ads.
Free traffic? Yes, please! Here’s the thing; SEO traffic is incredibly valuable, but it takes time to grow. Creating and posting consistently high-quality blog articles, white papers, case studies, or videos takes time and effort. The upside is that once a piece ranks well on the search engine results page (SERP) then it will be driving traffic to your page for free. (Until someone creates something better and knocks it off the top spot.)
PPC marketing offers immediate results for businesses that want, well, immediate results. “The general consensus is that PPC costs money and it brings immediate results, while SEO is free, but takes time. So it’s a simple trade, time for money.” (Source)
Do you have to choose between the two? We think not and suggest a digital marketing strategy that includes both is a wise choice.
Why Pay Per Click is Important?
As we mentioned, pay per click ads are the fastest way of driving traffic to your website. A promotional offer, a limited-time special, or a product launch will do well with PPC ads driving traffic to your web page for maximum exposure.
Web Solutions of America says, “PPC or pay-per-click advertising is a way to market and gain higher visibility on search engines such as Google and Bing. With PPC visitors 50% more likely to make a purchase than organic visitors, this advertising tactic is one of the most effective online marketing tactics.” We like those odds!
Another reason to use PPC ads is that they offer a highly valuable tool: data. The reporting tools on Google AdWords are enough to make your eyes bleed, but once you’ve made sense of them you have incredibly useful information about your audience.
For example, did more men or women click on your ads? What age bracket made the highest number of purchases? What time of day were they most active? Which ad message resonated with them the most? Where do they live? What are their income ranges?
Understanding the nuts and bolts of PPC is important, but it’s equally critical to develop a careful strategy before starting a campaign. There are a couple of factors to consider before diving in.
It’s super easy to blow your budget on low-quality clicks if you don’t understand the user intent behind the keywords that you are using. Is the user asking, “how to”, “why” or “define” in their question? If so, then you’re probably dealing with someone who’s looking for information. They are exploring and unlikely to buy at this point in their journey.
What about terms such as “Nissan versus Toyota”? This may indicate that the user has an idea of what they want, but they are comparing products, services, or prices. Search terms such as “plumber near me”, “flower delivery costs”, “buy snowshoes on special” show us that the user is at the point where they are ready to call or ready to buy.
If you’re spending money on paid ads, then you want instant gratification and will rightly be targeting those terms with high commercial intent.
The ad auction that we spoke of earlier gives us a clue about the importance of understanding our online competitors.
If we are a small financial services agency and we are considering PPC ads, then we are going up against the major banks, companies such as Investec, as well as large, well-known companies with a 100-year history. Keywords such as “insurance” account for some of the most expensive clicks on the web, and in some cases are 10x higher than other industries.
Figure 1 Wordstream
Can you afford to run with the big dogs? Chances are, we don’t have the budget to compete on a PPC level, but the good news is that there are ways around it. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Getting Started with PPC
So, you’re ready to go? Brilliant. This is what you need to get started:
- A PPC strategy
- A Google AdWords account
- A landing page or product pages
- Your landing pages should follow the same topic and angle as the ads, even using similar terminology.
- A list of keywords with their intent clearly noted
- A list of negative keywords – those which you do not want to pay for. These may include words like “jobs” or “cheap” depending on your product.
- A list of long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are generally phrases which consist of four words or more which can offer you a back door into expensive industry traffic. To use the example of the financial services industry mentioned in the previous paragraph, you may use something like “personalised insurance plans for retired couples” as opposed to “insurance” where you’ll just be swallowed up by the big players.
- An understanding of match types which need to be allocated to your keywords.
- Location, age, gender, income group and device setup.
- A clear set of KPIs and an expected ROI from the ads.
- A dedicated person to monitor and optimise the ads regularly.
- Monthly reporting tools set up to deliver the information that you require to tweak your ads for the next run.
Help With PPC Marketing
To all those small or medium-sized businesses which are planning on dipping their toe into the PPC pool, we understand that this is a big subject with many variables.
It really is too easy to blow your entire budget on non-performing keywords or the wrong audience, and if this is your first foray into PPC ads then we would certainly recommend that you work with a PPC manager. A professional in their field can help you to avoid the tripwires of the unwary and show how PPC can be a brilliant tool for your business.
Do you have questions? We can help.