1. What is PPC marketing?
PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying traffic or visits to your website, rather than "getting" those visits organically.
Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is the first and most popular PPC advertising system in the world. The Ads platform enables businesses to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine and other Google properties. Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids. While PPC is commonly associated with advertising on Google, it is also available for other channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Bing and more.
In this article you will explore all things related to PPC marketing to help you as a newbie in digital marketing improve the performance of the paid campaigns and boost results.
2. PPC Marketing Acronyms:
Before getting into details about PPC marketing, it’s vital to start with the acronyms that you’ll frequently hear.
Search Engine Marketing is the strategy of gaining website traffic by buying ads on a search engine such as Google.
Cost per thousand, also called cost per mille (that is why its abbreviation is CPM) , is a marketing term used to denote the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on one webpage. If a website publisher charges $2.00 CPM, that means an advertiser must pay $2.00 for every 1,000 impressions of its ad. The "M" in CPM represents the word "mille," which is Latin for "thousands."
Cost-per-click is the average cost for every click on your ad. This is a common metric tracked to manage budget
Click-through-rate Is the number of clicks on an ad divided by the number of times the ad was seen, which are impressions. A higher percentage indicates that your ad is relevant to what people search.
Cost-per-acquisition goes beyond just getting people to the website or a click. Acquisition may be a lead generation form filled out.
Return-on-ad-spend gets more specific than the CPA because it measures how many dollars you receive for every dollar you put into your ads.
For people new to PPC marketing, I recommend focusing on the CPC and CTR initially. You want to see your CTR percentage increase and your CPC decrease.
3. The Pros of PPC Marketing
PPC marketing can be expensive but clearly there are benefits as follows:
It’s measurement friendly. As noted above with those different terms, you can see the metrics available to analyze performance. If you have a .03% CTR, you know that your ads are not performing great. Or if you sell a low dollar item and you’re paying $50 per click, you should realize quickly that improvements are needed.
All PPC campaigns should have a goal associated with them. If you’re in a new business, it may be as simple as getting people to your website. If you’re in a service industry, it could be to have people fill out a form signing up for services. When your goals are recorded on your website with a tool such as Google Analytics, you can track in detail how your campaign is performing.
If you opened your doors for business yesterday and have a very niche product, you need to get your name out there quickly. Other strategies such as SEO (search engine optimization), take some time to build up. With PPC, you have the potential to be seen immediately, depending in part on the competitiveness of your industry.
Speed results in increased visibility. Ads are often approved by platforms the same day they’re created so you can be seen with an image ad on Instagram, a text ad on Google Search, and a video ad on YouTube ad. Exposing your brand in different formats on multiple channels increases visibility.
Is it your goal to reach lady in their late 40s who live in California and have an income level in the top 5%? You can do that with Google ads. On social media channels such as Instagram, you also have the option to target by demographics, interests, or behaviors.
With PPC, it is very easy to run pilot tests. For example, if you cannot decide on the best CTA for your ad, you can run two different ads and test two different CTAs to get data on which one performs best. You do not need to guess what works best, whether it’s a CTA, landing page, or ad headlines.
The Cons of PPC Marketing
PPC is something everyone can try because there are no long-term commitments. With print advertising, you may need to commit to a year with ads in a magazine, whereas with PPC you can try it for a couple of weeks. If it’s not working, pause it and regroup. There are some cases where it may not be the best tactic for your business.
Some industries such as immigration, relocation, real estates, insurance, legal, cosmetics or software can be very expensive in terms of how much each keyword cost. It varies but can be well over $30 a click. For businesses with multimillion-dollar budgets, that’s not a problem but for a small start-up, it can be a big problem. Although it could be doable with a very tightly focused campaign, it is something to consider and the reason you have to watch your costs very carefully.
PPC is never a fix-it-and-forget-it-campaign. Especially in the initial stages, you’ll find that you need to monitor the performance to make sure your marketing dollars are used wisely. You may have done all the keyword research in the world yet find that people are not searching in the way you expected. Or your ad copy starts to get stale and people no longer respond to the offer. So if you’re not working with an agency, be sure you have the expertise internally to manage a campaign.
Goals are unclear
While traffic is nice, it doesn’t put money in the bank. Although getting people to the site is a good start, you ultimately want to convert them to customers. Know your goals and have landing pages don’t have a good call to action.
With PPC, you rent other people’s audiences rather than building your own. You rent Google’s search audience, Facebook’s social audience, or LinkedIn’s professional audience. This means you’re at the mercy of these platforms as they can change their ad products, terms, or pricing at any moment. You also need to trust their definitions of each audience and it does not mean every single user that falls into a group will see the ad.
The Types of PPC marketing
There are multiple channels for PPC marketing, such as the Google Ads, Google Display Network and social media channels, as well as different types of ads, such as video and text. Each channel has their own rules for the type of ads they will show on their network.
When you search on Google, at the top of the SERP (search engine results page), you may see several ads, which are ads on the Google Search Network. These are text-based ads.
Display ads let you go beyond text in your advertising message. With display, you can use text but also images and video. If you don’t have graphic design skills but do have good images, you can create a Responsive Display Ad in Google ads.
As individual users, we have our social media channels to share thoughts, ideas, and helpful articles for free. We can also pay to promote posts on social media which are commonly used with businesses. Paying for posts on social media is an opportunity to extend your reach to new audiences and make your content more likely to be seen by a specific group.
Shopping ads are ideal for advertisers who have a product they’re selling and are more common in a B2C industry when there are not multiple decision-makers involved in the purchase.
If you go online to buy a $20 item, you probably buy it without much research or surfing. However, if you are considering a bigger ticket item, you do your research and price comparison. You are less likely to buy right away. If you want to get people back to your site because they had not bought from you yet, you can use retargeting. It’s a technique to invite people back to your site to convert based on their interests.
In-stream video ads are seen on YouTube and other sites that are part of the Google Display Network. It offers targeting options by keywords and audience and gives people the option to watch a video after 5 seconds. Knowing that people may choose to not watch your full clip, get your message out quickly so viewers are at least exposed to your brand even if they decide to not watch the whole video.
How To Create a PPC Marketing Plan
Now that you have an understanding of what PPC marketing is, it’s time to create a plan before you jump in with your advertising dollars.
1. Identify business goals
What you want to do with PPC marketing should fit into your overall business goals. In the B2C industry, where there are not multiple decision-makers and you’re selling a product, your goal is to have someone come to your website and make a purchase. If they did not make a purchase on that first visit, you might use a remarketing strategy to bring them back to your site.
For B2B Industries with a longer sales cycle, your goal is to get them into your pipeline. For example, an initial CTA may be to have them come to your website and download a white paper. Now that you have that initial contact, you next invite them to a product demo. After that, the next step could be a conversation with a sales rep and so on. Once you understand the goals of your specific business, you can write targeted ads and have CTAs for each of these appropriate steps.
2. Determine Budget
The amount of money to put into your PPC advertising depends on how your other channels are performing. If your SEO is not great or you do not have good performance with your email campaigns, you can use paid ads to supplement what is not working well on those channels.
With lead generation, you determine how much each lead is worth to you. Calculate how often leads convert into customers and the average sale from customers. Another budget consideration is how much you pay for clicks or impressions.
It also helps to see what your competitors are doing. With a tool such a SpyFu, you can enter a competitor’s website and get a view of what they spend on paid ads. This can help you determine a ballpark for your own campaigns.
When you bid on keywords, you want to look at how common they are and how much they cost. There is a big difference in budget needed for a $3 keyword and a $30 keyword. If your keyword is very niche and not commonly searched, it may not cost a lot. When you have some of these estimates, you can then use the CallRail calculator to estimate a PPC budget.
3. Identify Channels
Finally, consider the channel where you put your paid ads. With low dollar B2C purchases, you will do well on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest since they have a large diverse audience and are very visual platforms for people who want to see what they buy. If you are selling in the B2B market, you can target decision-makers by job titles on LinkedIn. This channel is more expensive than others, but the B2B industry typically has larger ad budgets and average deal sizes compared to a small e-commerce brand. Google Ads are a good channel for both B2C and B2B.
Keep in mind that ads on a channel like Facebook can be done well with a little budget whereas LinkedIn is more expensive since it is targeted to a business audience. Both channels are valuable, but Facebook is better for people with a lower budget. To manage costs, you can find your warm audience on Facebook and remarket to them on LinkedIn.
Read more for more advanced techniques of PPC marketing!