PPC (pay per click advertising) is important for online business success and a necessary component for a complete and successful digital marketing campaign.
Many small business owners underestimate the benefits of ppc and as a result they are missing out on a big opportunity to grow their online businesses fast in a controlled and profitable manner.
Pay per click advertising, whether this is through Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads or even Twitter promoted tweets, is a great way to reach your potential customers fast and promote your products or services.
What is Pay Per Click advertising?
PPC or otherwise known as Paid Search Advertising (PSA) is part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Together with SEO they are the main ways to target people using search engines (mainly Google and Bing) to find answers to their questions, general information or products to buy.
As the term implies, as an advertiser you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Over the years this model has evolved and PPC campaigns may use other pricing models such as CPM (pay per thousand impressions) or CPA (pay when a click on the ad leads to a conversion).
The general idea about PPC is that it allows you to reach targeted audience fast by specifying who will see your ads (either by entering specific keywords or demographic characteristics) and you only pay when someone performs an action on your ad.
Let’s review in more details why ppc is important for start-ups, small businesses and generally any company that wants to do business online.
#1 – It is cost effective
One of the misconceptions around PPC campaigns has to do with cost. Many people believe that PPC is a waste of money and that keeps them away from using it.
It is true that if you are not careful on how you spend your money, you will end up draining your budget on buying hope and not real results. But, If you follow these simple rules, you increase your chances of making your campaigns profitable:
Start slow, measure and grow big – When you start with PPC don’t throw all your money on your first campaign but start with a small campaign and then depending on the results you can spend more money.
Everything is measurable from the impressions your ads will receive, clicks you will get, visits to your website and conversions so make sure that you study these numbers well before spending more.
If you are new to Adwords, Bing or Facebook ads, it is better to hire professionals to set up the campaigns for you and then if you cannot afford to have them optimize the campaigns on a monthly basis, at least you will know that your ‘base’ is correct.
Use ways to lower your CPC costs – A good ppc campaign is one that is optimised and there are many ways to lower your CPC costs and achieve more with less budget. Don’t think that these techniques are useless, PPC is like SEO where optimization process is a fundamental component.
Keep increasing your budget as long as it is profitable – This is perhaps the most important rule of PPC management: increase your budget on campaigns that are profitable and not on campaigns that are not.
At the beginning it is normal to run non-profitable campaigns because the optimisation period may take a couple of months but in the long-run, you should not spend money without a positive return.
Learn from your competitors – The first step to take when creating a new PPC campaign is to take a closer look on what your competitors are doing. There are low cost competitive intelligence tools like semrush that can give you a lot of information about your competition.
Things like how much they spend, for which keywords they rank, the actual ad copy they are using is data you can get by running a competition analysis report. Study this data and use it for your own benefit.
Spend money on keywords that generate profit – Another reason that makes PPC a cost effective advertising solution is that you have the ability to control your budgets and allocate it on keywords or audiences that are profitable.
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When you first setup your campaigns, you do it based on what you think it might work but after a few weeks, you will see that some keywords (or audiences) perform better than others. Use this info and make adjustments to your bids and targets to give more preference to these potentially profitable areas and less or none to others.
#2 – It’s the fastest method to get targeted visitors
When you manage an online business you need traffic, not any type of traffic but targeted traffic that can potentially lead to more sales and business.
SEO is the first thing that comes in mind when talking about targeted traffic but we all know that it takes time to work so the next best alternative that can get you targeted traffic fast is PPC.
With Google adwords you can choose for which keywords to show your ads and these will appear on the top of Google search results (or in the right sidebar on desktop). With Facebook Ads, you can define your target audience based on the many demographic characteristics facebook has for all of us.
I work with a number of businesses that make a lot of money online through PPC without having good organic rankings. Their success has to do with 3 things:
- The quality of products they are offering
- Highly converting websites
- Highly optimised PPC campaigns
I am not saying that is easy to get these areas right from the beginning but this is the recipe for online success. SEO can certainly help with conversion optimization and PPC optimization but SEO alone cannot help a new business grow fast.
It may take months or years for SEO to bring in targeted traffic while PPC is almost instant. Of course the benefits from achieving high organic rankings are enormous but you need to be patient and have a good SEO plan to get there.
#3 – It’s the easiest way to test if your product sells
You have a nice looking website and products ready to ship but don’t know if your products sell or if your website converts, what is the fastest way to find out the truth? Run a campaign on Google Adwords and get 1000 targeted visits and measure the results.
It will cost you to make this test but if you are aiming for a long term online presence the money you spend now on optimising your website and product offerings will generate more revenue in the future.
Businesses that don’t follow this path of testing and optimisation but go blind believing that their website works and their products sell because they think so, are doomed to fail. What your designer and web developer consider to be user friendly and converting is not always what actually works for users and a targeted PPC campaign will help you find the truth.
#4 – It works well with other digital marketing channels
PPC advertising is an important component of your digital marketing strategy and works well with all other marketing channels. For example:
You can use dynamic search ad campaigns and let PPC tell you which keywords are a good match for your website.
You can use PPC to test the effectiveness of different keywords so that you know which keywords to target with long term SEO.
You can use PPC as a way to get more installs for your mobile application and strengthen your mobile marketing.
You can use PPC to get more email signups and enrich your email marketing campaigns.
It’s great for local SEO optimization – You can use PPC to drive customers to your shop door or get direct calls from customers looking for products and services in your area.
#5 – It allows you to execute advanced marketing techniques like Retargeting
image source: Google Remarketing
One of the most effective ways to increase conversions is to use retargeting. Retargeting or remarketing is a technique where you create campaigns and target people that have already visited your website but did not convert.
For example, assume that you have a website selling engagement rings. Customers looking to buy engagement rings online go through a buying process which includes searching for the products they want and taking a look at different websites.
The timeframe to make a decision can expand to 30 or 60 days since the products are expensive and the available sellers a lot. This is a classic case where retargeting can generate great results.
By adding a piece of code provided by Google Adwords, Facebook or even Twitter, you allow these networks to identify through cookies people that visited your website but did not purchase a product from you.
You then have the opportunity to create campaigns targeting those people and offer them incentives to re-visit your website and complete the purchase process.
When should you use PPC?
PPC is a good fit for almost any type of business. You can use it to sell products, services, raise brand awareness or get new leads from Google or social media platforms.
As a startup you can use PPC and take advantage of all the benefits described above and as an established business you can use PPC to further expand your business online.
Use PPC when you have time-sensitive offers (or events) since no other digital marketing tool (besides social media marketing) can give you instant access to your target audience.
Use PPC for keyword domination – Even if you have good organic rankings for particular keywords, you can still use PPC and dominate the search results.
When you should NOT use PPC?
Generally PPC is not a good companion when:
- Your products have a very low price and thus the profit margin is not big to accommodate for the cost of running pay-per-click campaigns.
- When you have an adsense website. Adsense and adwords can work together but there are some cases that you should not use them in parallel. Read adwords Vs adsense for more details.
- Don’t try PPC if you don’t have the knowledge to do it correctly. Running campaigns on adwords and facebook is not difficult but if you are not sure how they work, you will end up losing a lot of money with minimum return.
The take-away message from this article is that PPC is a must use tool for almost any business and if you don’t yet use PPC, you are missing out on big opportunities for growth.