What is PPC and does it really work?

One of the most important goals for digital marketing agencies, is getting their clients website to rank high organically.  This takes a lot of work and involves an in-depth knowledge of how websites function (which we have by the way). However it is very time consuming and typically resource heavy. The reason why many businesses struggle to achieve this is that it can often be an unpredictable, process, and something better left to SEO experts to deliver.

However if you're just starting out, and are looking to get your site visible on Google quickly and don't have the knowledge or skills to do it via SEO, then PPC is your next bet. But what is PPC and how does it work?

What Is PPC?

Let's take it back a step before we break down the fundamentals of PPC and just cover the acronym.PPC stands for “pay-per-click”, so your adverts are displayed on a platform, be it Google or Facebook and you are charged for every click this generates.The entire bidding process and budget you spent is controlled in that particular environment.

Pay-per-click  can play an essential part in business’s broader online marketing campaign. For eccommerce or seasonal sales, it can be particularly helpful to create campaigns to capitalise on increased interest during that period. However, a word of warning, that If not done properly, PPC can become quite expensive, time consuming and therefore only used as a short term gap, so it is important to develop a strategy before beginning to advertise through PPC.

How Does PPC Work?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a broad category, which includes a wide variety of platforms and mediums. However, most kinds of PPC ad campaigns can fit into one of two categories: Google Ads and Social Media Ads.

Google PPC Ads

How does PPC work on Google Ads? In a PPC campaign, you pay Google however much you wish to have them list ads for your site at the top and right of the organic search listings. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay the current Cost Per Click (CPC) from your budget.

Search Ads

Google Search Ads are perhaps the most recognisable form of pay-per-click advertisements. When a user searches for a product or service online, these ads are displayed as the first results on the page, and the best thing is that with the PPC model, you only pay for when someone clicks on the ads and is taken to your website.  How Google decides which ads are displayed in which order is based on a few factors, such as relevancy to the search and bidding strategy of the campaigns.

Google Display Network

The Google Display Ad is slightly different to the standard pay-per-click model used in the search network, as users can pay per thousand impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC).  The set up process is very similar, and the benefits are that it can reach a very wide audience, displaying different type of media in the process. These ads can be text based, or media rich banners, and can be developed to display across any of more than two million websites and 650,000 apps.

google display images example

Pre-Roll Ads

Pre-roll ads are the most common form of video advertisement, and one we’re sure you likely encounter every day. You find a YouTube video you want to watch (tutorial, review, etc.) but right before the video begins, there’s an ad that plays. There are also “mid-roll” and “post-roll ads” (sole difference being when the ads appear as it relates to the video you clicked to watch.) These can be targeted by geolocation, native language, demographics, topics, and interests.

Remarketing or Retargeting

Re-marketing or Re-targeting ads are as described. The Ads are shown to people who have visited your website before but for whatever reason, have not taken the desired action, and can help to increase conversion. It typically takes 7 interactions with your brand for a customer to convert, so these ads are a great tool to stay front of mind while the customer is going through the decision process. These ads can be shown on the Display Network or as Search Ads, and are priced on a automatic bidding model. You can also re-market and retarget through social media, using a re-marketing pixel.

Social PPC Ads

The choice of which for of Paid advertising will work better may depend on the industry you are in, and the type of audience you're targeting. Google Ads will typically generate more results, as they have a wider reach (98% of the web), but paid social can be an effective way for businesses to capture audience's attention. With Social Advertising, and for example Facebook advertising, you can customise the audience you target and build out a strategy to only target your key demographic. That and the fact that it has 1.55 billion monthly active users make it a viable option for businesses to advertise on. Since Facebook owns Instagram, ads work seamlessly on both platforms. For certain B2B industries, LinkedIn may also be a strategic platform to use, although it is significantly more expensive than Facebook.

Facebook & Instagram Ads

There are a wide variety of ads available on Facebook and its associated platforms; these vary in format (from single images to videos) and in destination (where the ad will be shown.) You also have the option to define your audience based on basic demographics, location, interest, and more.

To get the most out of your Facebook Ads, you will need to install a Facebook Pixel, which allows the platform to collect data about visitors to your own site. Not sure how to define your audience? The Lookalike Audience feature allows you to assess the commonalities of your current audience (such as visitors to your website) and target similar users with your Facebook Ads.

Another great use of the Pixel is Retargeting Ads. Like the Google Re-marketing Ads mentioned above, Retargeting allows you to follow users after they’ve visited your website with targeted ads related to your products or services.

Finally, Facebook also offers a simpler approach; you can Boost Posts with the click of a button! This process quickly transforms a basic Facebook post on your business page into an advertisement that can be shown to the audience of your choosing. As with other Facebook Ads, you can also customise your budget, placement, and timeline.

LinkedIn Ads

If your business is aimed directly to consumers, Facebook is probably going to get you the best return on your Social Advertising investment. However, if you’re in the B2B camp, it’s worth considering LinkedIn Advertising.

Although you have the option to use text-only advertisements on LinkedIn, ads with images drive 20% more clicks, so it makes the most sense to do both! From there, you can choose your audience, segmentation by company, job title, skills, demographics, and more. These pay-per-click ads can be placed at the side or bottom of a user’s LinkedIn homepage, or in the user’s inbox.

LinkedIn Sponsored content

A second paid advertising option within LinkedIn is Sponsored Content. This content shows up in the midst of your audience’s news feed, which can significantly increase engagement. As with the text and display ads, you can select your target audience. Then, you simply have to set your bid, which is done at either a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis.

How Can I Maximise ROI for PPC?

While PPC can be easy to implement, rushing into the process can lead to disaster if you don’t know the basic guidelines. By looking at some helpful tips below, you should be able to launch an effective PPC campaign that will bring new visitors to your site.

1 . Metrics for Success

Many businesses  go into pay-per-click advertising without having a clear sense of their goals and expectations. This can lead to wasted time, money, and significant frustration. To avoid this, make sure your team can answer each of these questions before beginning any PPC ad campaign.

  • Who are you targeting with this campaign?
    Always remind yourself who you’re aiming to reach through paid search. Ideally you will have a clear picture of your target persona before embarking on paid activity to attract them. When choosing keywords and creating ad copy, you need to put yourself in your aduence's shoes, and think about how they would likely search for your product or service. The campaign needs to be as relevant as possible to score highly with the quality score, so ensure that the keywords, AdCopy and landing page are aligned. Be sure to put yourself in your audience's shoes and ask yourself, what they would search for.
  • What outcome do you want?
    Determine what you would like your user to do once they click on your paid search ad.  This might be to get them to call you, fill out a form, sign up to your newsletter or watch a video. Include this goal as a call to action in your ad text, and ensure tracking is set up correctly to properly attribute this back to the advertising platform. Best practice is to drive visitors to a bespoke landing page that easily leads them toward this goal.
  • Measuring your success?
    Tracking and metrics are very important for all paid activity. Check your tracking URLs and pixels, so you will know which traffic and activity is coming from PPC, and which is direct or organic traffic. Ongoing analysis of your campaign metrics will reveal ads and keywords you may want to pause, rework, or promote with additional resources, depending upon their performance.

2. Understand the Factors of Your Success

No matter how big your business is, if you are going to incorporate PPC advertising in your marketing strategy, it’s important that you understand what factors play into the success of a campaign. This will help everyone to set appropriate goals and expectations, and make adjustments that truly lead to success.

Below are four key factors that can affect how often your ads are shown, and how effective they are in reaching your goal:

  • Keyword and Ad Relevance
    Despite the fact that you're paying for the Ads, Google still wants to give the best user experience to the audience as possible. This means that with relevancy, priority will be given to Ads that relate to what their keywords are about. As a result, the entire journey, from keyword to landing page needs to be aligned.
  • Landing Page
    As mentioned with Ad relevance, landing page experience is another factor that Google takes into account when judging on which Ad to serve higher. So your landing page needs to optimised, if your keyword and adcopy is about a mouse, then make sure the landing page mentions the mouse as well. Other factor, but slightly less important to consider is the actual load time and page speed of the website, as if the landing page has a high bounce rate or is very slow and has a poor user experience, Google is likely to look unfavourably on it. perhaps even more important is where these ads direct traffic. Y
  • Quality Score
    Although this particular factor is unique to Google Ads, it deserves to be highlighted. This score is a combinatons of all the factors mentioned above, added together to give an overall score of the campaign.The better your quality score, the more ad clicks you can get, at lower costs.
  • Budget
    Worth noting that budgets in AdWords are typically daily budget, so worth calculating what that will work out to over a month. Another factor to bear in mind is that Google will sometimes upweight your budget if it sees valuable traffic during a surge period, and so you may not always spend evenly on a day to day basis, but this should even out over the course of a month. When considering your budget, you need to be mindful of how the different types of traffic can impact your budget. For example a display campaign combined with search, will most likely serve more impressions and so may result in a 60/40 split in type of traffic that your campaign generates. 

Why Use PPC?

“98% of searchers choose a business that is on page one of the results they get.” (BrightLocal)

“64% of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online.” (Wordstream)

“72% of AdWords marketers plan to increase their PPC budgets.” (Search Engine Watch)

  • To Supplement Your SEO Efforts
    It’s no secret that SEO takes time. From the day you start writing and optimising your website, it can take up to 3 months for newly created websites, or up to 6 for the more established sites to start seeing some benefit from the efforts with SEO. Combining the 2 into a short term and long term strategy, can help you fill the gap. As soon as your ads are live, they’ll appear on your targeted platform, and you can start getting instant results, including brand awareness, clicks to landing pages, and even conversions.
  • To Build Awareness of New Products or Services
    SEO works well when you target keywords that your buyer persona would search for online. However, new products and services sometimes face the problem of that target audience not knowing what to search for. SEO is mostly used in conjunction with a well mapped out thought content strategy, and the majority of the content may be top of the funnel or thought leadership, designed to capture the audience at the start of the buying process. PPC ads can double up, and can be used both to help you take an awareness-building message right to your target audience at the bottom of the funnel, or to help promote or push your content out at the top of the funnel.
  • To Beat Well-Known Competitors
    If you are just beginning to establish an online presence for your business in a space already dominated by large companies, it’s going to take some time to carve out your own space on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP.) Fortunately, however, ad placements cover up to 85% of the space above the fold, and 80% of search results contain Google Ads ad placements. This means that, even while you are working to establish your place in the organic results, you can buy visibility for those keywords that your larger competitors may be targeting organically.

How Long Does It Take To See PPC Results?

These are pretty instant. Once you set your ads up, they're live pretty instantly. However don't be tempted into thinking that this is a one off, as the Ads and campaign will need to be continually optimised so as to maximise ROI. A pay-per-click campaign can take several months of optimisation before you start to see the best results.

What Is the ROI for PPC?

This does differ depending on the industry, as some will have higher CPC due to their competitive nature (such as insurance). When used effectively, PPC advertising can be an incredibly effective way to reach a new audience and bring in new customers. In fact, PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something from a site than organic visitors, as you are targeting customers who are actively in th market for something you sell.

Conclusion: PPC does work

At ObenInc, we don’t believe in in just 1 solution, or that PPC is the magic bullet.” We know PPC alone isn't going to magically transform your entire marketing strategy. However we do believe in an omni-channel approach, of which PPC is just one of many strings to the marketing bow.

If you'd like additional help in setting up and/or running your PPC campaigns, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with ObenInc

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