Everything you need to know about PPC marketing to get a successful campaign started.
Indiscriminate advertising doesn’t work.
Heavyweight mass media advertising might have produced results in the 1950s. In the age of the Internet, it’s a money pit from which there is no escape.
The key to marketing success today relies on promoting the right products to the right people at the right time.
Many small businesses have a great service or product to promote, but get discouraged after their marketing initiatives provide few-to-no results. Simply dedicating a budget for advertising your service isn’t enough.
You have to look at the course of an ad like it were a living organism, in order to understand how the ads funnel your target demographic to your products. Finding your niche takes on a much more logical approach once you take account of careful filtering in this way.
It is important to be aware that there are two major channels that the fate of an ad can follow: SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click). Investment in PPC is slowly going to exceed half of the popular tendency, as it steadily grew from 40% to 45% since 2017.
So why does PPC marketing generate such value for the marketers who know it best? Read on to find out how to set up your first PPC campaign the right way.
The Way PPC Works (A Deeper Understanding of PPC)
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every service-based-business on the market, pay-per-click advertising must be tailored to fit each advertiser’s individual needs.
At first, all the acronyms may seem a bit confusing, but consider them the basic phrases of a foreign language. Once these definitions are in place, the whole process will start to make sense. Here is a list of the most commonly used terms when referring to PPC:
Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, are pages search engines display to users, such as Google or Bing, as a result of what a user has searched for. Search engines return these pages in response to keyword queries, giving the platform a chance to advertise relevant services and products.
There are two general types of results:
- An organic search result is an algorithm-based link retrieved by the search engine.
- A sponsored search result is any advertisement that shows up automatically.
Both of these types of results are ranked by relevance to the query. For organic searches, results displayed on SERP normally include a title, a link pointing to the actual page on the Web, and a short section showing where keywords that match the content within the page. In the case of sponsored results, the choice of what to display belongs to the advertiser.
Search Engine Marketing is a way to rank for a target keyword. SEM refers to paid or unpaid digital marketing done on SERP, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo! Search. Because SEM encompasses both SEO and paid advertising, it ranks organically for keywords. PPC can also occur on social media platforms – such as Facebook Ads – therefore it is not limited to search engines.
Cost-per-click (CPC) is the price that an advertiser pays for every individual click on your ad. This determines where your ad will be placed by acting as your bid in an auction. The higher you bid, the better an ad will be placed.
Your CPC can be set to manual, in which case you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or it can be set to enhanced, where the search engines adjust your bid based on your goals. Enhanced options include bid strategies that automatically adjust bids based on either conversions or clicks. For the manual option, you must first set a maximum price you are willing to spend per click as your CPC, and then apply the following formula to find out the actual price:
Competitor’s Ad Rank / Your Quality Score) + 0.01 = Actual CPC.
In order to determine the position of an ad in SERP, the value of an Ad Rank is the result of Maximum Bid (the maximum you are willing to pay per click on your ad) multiplied by the Quality Score.
Search engines give this score to your ad, based on your click-through rate (CTR). The quality and relevance of your landing page and ad copy are determined in relation to a given keyword.
This score gets measured against the CTR average of ads in that position. There are three characteristics that will grant you a high Quality Score:
- Fast SERP performance
- Relevant, well-researched keywords.
- High landing page quality.
Having a high relevance and a high Quality Score ensures a better ad rank. This means you ultimately pay less and earn more for your PPC marketing campaign.
CPM (Cost per Mille)
Cost per mille (which is latin for “thousand”) is the cost per one thousand impressions, and is most commonly used for display and paid social ads.
You can set your CPC to manual, where you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or enhanced, which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of these enhanced options involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on either clicks or conversions.
This should be the first step in setting up your PPC ads. A campaign is the key message or agenda that you want to get across with your ads. It also corresponds to everything the marketing initiative needs to meet its goals.
Each small demographic must be carefully filtered based on a set of precisely related keywords. A series of ads will ensue from this, and each has to be tailored to appeal to as many small groups as possible. Your CPC can be set for each ad group that you create.
Keywords are terms and phrases that define what your content is about. The keywords on your page should be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your site among SERP results. A set of relevant keywords and key terms should be included in each ad within your ad group. You can set a micro CPC for keywords within your ads, once you have determined which keywords perform best.
Since Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is, the keywords should be included in, or at least match, the ad text you are targeting. Although graphical ads are more sensory appealing, text-based ads have the advantage of downloading almost instantly and are not affected by ad blocking software.
A crucial part of the paid advertising strategy, a landing page is a standalone web page where a visitor “lands” after clicking on your link. The most successful landing pages are designed with a single focus, which is known as a CTA (call to action). This focused goal turns a landing page into the best option for decreasing CPC and increasing conversion rates of your marketing campaign. Here is an example of how an effective landing page should be structured:
Effective Use of PPC
In order to catch the reader’s attention, it’s important to coat your campaign goal with as much information about what you offer, in as little word usage as possible. Being so attached to your small business, sometimes it’s difficult to extract the essence of your product, especially to chop it down in a few words and use those as a headline for the world wide web to judge you by. Below is an example that aimed right for the throat, using terms that impress at first glance and managing to reinforce the advertiser’s reputation:
Founded in 1998, Allposters is an online store from the UK that specializes in selling posters, T-shirts and prints. They currently use Google AdWords to drive traffic to their website. So why is this ad well written?
- It is short and to the point.
- It shows a huge number (500,000 is an impressive amount of posters indeed, which means you can probably find any poster you wish within their selection.
- It includes a solid Google star rating beneath the headline, which make customers feel more secure about clicking on the ad. A good trust factor is something users generally react positively to, and Google stars are a universal score of success.
- The short description of the ad implies that they are either running a promotion, or they sell posters a lot cheaper than their competitors. Mentioning the year of the company’s birth is another good trust factor. A customer will rely more confidently on a company that has been in business for such a long time.
- There are three effective calls to action at the bottom of the link: Popular Artists, Bestsellers, and even a separate call to action for the 35% discount promotion itself.
Best Platforms for PPC Advertising
There are four main PPC platforms that have the potential of getting your ad seen by as many small or local demographics as possible. Everyone thinks of Google as the embodiment of the internet, but there are other channels that you should keep an eye on, since they are not too far behind in high traffic. Any of these four choices is a good place to start advertising.
Statistically considered the “king of paid advertising”, Google receives 3.5 billion searches per day. Sure, keywords are highly competitive on this platform, which means you’ll have to spend a greater amount on your ads than on other search engines. Increasing your PPC budget will make your leads and profits increase accordingly, in the least amount of time.
Facebook Ads is another effective PPC platform mainly due to its specific targeting options. Setting filters like interests, demographics, location, behaviors, and activities is useful for finding the right audience for your service. Options like native ads – when ads are blended into the social feed – and the option to advertise on Instagram within the same budget make Facebook a very good competitor to Google Ads.
AdRoll is a retargeting platform. It advertises to people who have visited your website in the past. If, for instance, someone read your article on what gym exercises are effective for losing body fat, they can be retargeted on other sites they visit, with display ads that advertise your gym group workout sessions and schedules. One of the benefits of using AdRoll is that ads can be displayed on Google and Facebook/Instagram, which ensures higher chances to capture clicks or impressions, and to turn leads into opportunities.
If you’re looking for a low CPC and highly engaged traffic, RevContent might be the solution. It is one of the fastest growing native advertising networks, benefiting from such partners as PayPal, Forbes, Newsweek, Jack Daniels, and AirBnB. Promoting content through PPC has the same impact as a guest post, but the content gets displayed in the form of an ad, on an external site. Bidding on keywords is still possible. The advertisement is displayed next to relevant content that contains the chosen keywords.
The Beginner’s Six-Step Guide to PPC Marketing
1. Finding Your Identity
The first step is understanding your role within the advertising spectrum. Defining your identity as a service or product provider comes from asking yourself all the relevant questions before anyone else gets to. This way, you will find a way to include the answers in the descriptions, and extract their essence. If it looks like a good ad to you, it will surely look like a good ad to other visitors. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do you want to accomplish with your ads (raising brand awareness, visits, sales)?
- How much are you willing to spend to reach this goal?
- Who do you want to target?
- Are you a service-based company or a product-selling company?
- What is the theme of your campaign?
- How will you measure success?
- What type of campaign will you run? (you can choose from search ads, display ads, social, remarketing, and Google Shopping)
2. Setting Up Your Landing Page
A good landing page should accurately mirror your goals and should be optimized for the leads it will capture. That’s what gives your business another big trust factor. A CTA optimized landing page builder like vCita is an easy way to get started if you don’t have a website. See an example of a beautiful lead capturing landing page build on vCita hereunder:
3. Setting Up Google Ads and Google Analytics
All you need to create your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts, is a Google account, and you are ready to sign up! You’ll need to specify some basic information about your business so that Google Ads can customize your account setup, after which you’ll be roughly 15 minutes from running your first ad.
Google Analytics provides insights into your website’s performance, the way users interact with your pages, and what content attracts the most visitors. It is free to use, and you can use the gathered information for PPC and other purposes.
Google Ads Extensions are additional information that is displayed beneath your ad copy, which allows you to take over more ad space. Ad Extensions are beneficiary if you want to lower costs and improve your ad rank. An average of 41% of clicks are done on the top three paid ads, and these ads rank so high partially due to Ad Extensions.
Types of Extensions
For physical visits, the best choice is a location extension. If your aim is to have more physical visits at your place of business, location extension ads will redirect their click directly on Google Maps, thus making it easy to find you.
For off-site communication, you can choose from call extensions, message extensions, dynamic sitelink extensions, callout extensions, price extensions and review extensions. This is how a concise price extension would look like, featuring how much customers would pay, and precisely what they would be paying for:
If you’re business is more app oriented, you can do no wrong with the app extension. This will show a link the searcher can click on and be redirected to the App Store or Google Play, where they can download your app.
Next up, you can reduce the number of tedious tasks to perform by relying on a set of PPC tools. These tools can help you manage your campaign, research your competitors, analyze performance, get inspiration for your copy or any graphic aspects, and even automatize some of these tasks. Take a look at some of the top tools used in 2019.
The top two PPC management tools are Google Ads Editor and Bing Ads Editor (depending on which search engine you are relying on). Additionally, you can audit your Google ads account with the free-to-use Google Ads Performance Grader. If you feel you can attract your target audience through Facebook, AdEspresso will help you create, optimize, and analyze campaigns.
If you want to gander at thy neighbor’s goods and see where there’s room for improvement for you, there are two competitor research tools that you might find useful. SpyFU, iSpionage and SEMrush will help you gain insight into your competition starting at $49 per month. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends should be taken into consideration when researching effective keywords (including SEO keywords) and tailoring campaigns to match seasonal demand.
In order to track the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns and see how many people truly engage with your campaigns and even optimize your Quality Score, there are three useful tools you can pick from. Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Certified Knowledge allow you to track the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns and your website performance.
BuzzSumo and Answer The Public are two great tools to inspire effective ad text. They show the most shared content across the web, and come in handy when trying to reformulate answers to product demand into ad copy.
Not everyone is a born visual artist mastermind, but there are tools that will help with tying a bow with ribbon in the graphic department. Share As Image and Canva are great for making a cool-looking ad out of your own resources, whereas Pinterest serves as a good source of graphic inspiration, where you can save and organize images that are suitable to your ad.
If time and effort are of the essence, Google Ads Scripts allows you to automate tasks like advanced A/B testing, competitor tracking, and close variant matching. Another fast app for Android and iOS is Google Ads App, which lets you adjust keyword bids and enable or disable campaigns, ads, and ad groups (or Facebook Ads Manager App if that’s your audience’s preferred hang out place).
6. Advanced Strategies and Targeting
There are other time-saving strategies that you should consider, once you followed the first five steps of getting your PPC campaign to take off.
One of the tactics is dayparting, where you can schedule ads for certain times of the day or even days of the week. This is useful if you have a business in which peak times or certain days show spikes in searches and clicks. If you operate a fitness instruction website at a local gym (or even own one), you can use dayparting so your ads only show on the days and times of your lessons.
You might encounter at least one of these two disclaimers on a daily basis:
- “This website would like to know your location.”
Both of these enable a user’s geolocation based on the location of their mobile device. Companies will continually improve their landing pages by using geolocations. For instance, if you own a food delivery chain service or app, it could be used for tracking down the number of people that are using the service in an area, and target expansion.
Device Targeting is another way to grab the attention of specific users, whose browsing behavior coincides with the nature of your business. This can include targeting specific device types, device models, operating systems, and ad inventory (spacers where ads are allowed to run).
Nowadays, the typical consumer owns an average of 3.6 internet-connected devices. Device targeting is useful on a much more individual customer level, as they can be targeted for the same product on different devices, at different times of the day. After browsing your page while at work on the company’s desktop, you can retarget them on their phone while they commute back home, on their smart TV as they’re relaxing after a busy day of work, and in bed before they lay their tablet on their nightstand.
How To Make PPC Work
Alright, so you ticked all the relevant boxes, you have a great landing page, and you’re ready to take off into PPC space! In order for you to succeed with your first PPC campaign, take a look at some of the PPC strategies that will help maximize your budget and effort.
Good Ad Copy
The best way to get your ad in front of the right audience is bidding on targeted keywords. Giving the searcher exactly what they want and being clear about it in your ad description guarantees you clicks. Search ads contain:
- A headline
- A URL
- A short description
Because each of these have a character limit, make sure your ad meets the following criteria:
- Speaks directly to your target audience
- Include the main keyword(s) you are bidding on
- Display a visible Call-To-Action
- Provide an attractive offer
Good Landing Page Tips
Besides making your landing page look good and making it match with your ad tone, it needs to convert visitors into leads, or even customers. This will improve your Quality Score, which will lead to better ad placements. Here’s what your landing page should be comprised of:
- A strong headline (if your search ad headline is strong enough, use that for the landing page as well)
- A clean design and easy-to-follow layout
- A CTA button that stands out, with a responsive form that ensues from clicking it
- Copy that is directly related and relevant to your target keywords
- In case you provided an offer in the ad, keep your promise and display it clearly
You can simulate the effects your ad has, as you tailored it, and see if it will increase your clickthrough and conversion rates. There are four parts you need to test in an ad:
- Landing page
- Target words
List out all the possible combinations of testing, and prioritize them by grade of impact. It is important to let your ads run long enough for you to gather all the data you need. In order not to waste your budget on a poorly-performing ad, you should do the A/B testing early on in the campaign.
Audiences can be tailored so you can get in front of the right people and save marketing money. For instance, In-Market Audiences allows you to connect with consumers who are actively searching for products like yours. You can also try layering audiences, meaning increasing your bid to find subgroups in your target demographic.
You can make bid adjustments based on types of devices, different demographics, different languages, and other categories. If your product performs better on desktops than on mobile devices, you can add a positive bid adjustment for when users search for your ads on a desktop, or a negative bid adjustment for when they seek your product on a mobile device.
Using sitelink extensions allows you to add additional information to your ad, such as store hours or store location. Since these extensions take up more space on SERPs, they tend to stand out more, and also improve your Ad Rank.
Conversion tracking helps you make the right adjustments to improve your conversions. Through a simple “Thank You” page placed after users complete your form, you can carefully monitor how your landing page is performing.
Match Types in Google Ads is also very useful. This option enables you to set the proximity of your ad group in relation to a search team. You can choose from:
- Modified Broad
- Exact Match
Weeding out what keywords are not helpful can be easily done with using negative keywords. These let search engines know what you don’t want your ad to rank for, which is equally important, even if you have somewhat of an idea about them beforehand.
You can also go the Social Media Ads route. Sites like Facebook allow you to set targeted demographics or individual people based on common interests. Besides retargeting audiences, there is also Lookalike Audiences, which parallels the people on your marketing list, thus expanding your focused reach. It doesn’t hurt to be able to include image ads, video ads, or a wide array of text-driven ads.
PPC Management and Continuous Improvement
In order to run an effective PPC advertising campaign, you have to constantly manage it, monitor it, track insights, and analyze the results. Through PPC management, tasks like the following can be achieved:
- Creating and adjusting goals
- Introducing new keywords
- Removing poorly-performing keywords
- Split testing
- Optimizing conversion paths
Basically, you have control over your strategy in order to optimize keyword effectiveness. and over what budget to allocate for certain keywords, or to maximize ROI. Be sure to pay attention to ad networks, social platforms, and search engines, and be vigilant about any changes that may alter the results in your campaigns. This may be a good point to invest in PPC Software.
Some unexpendable features a complete PPC software can provide are:
- multi-user support
- cross-platform management
- A/B testing
- ad grading
Popular PPC software platforms and resources include:
Can I Run My Campaigns On My Own?
Pay-per-click advertising is a vital optimization strategy due to its goal to bring in immediate results. You can improve visibility, identify new leads, bring more traffic to your site, and increase your conversions.
The main reason, that serves as an umbrella for all the rest, is growth. Everything else is only part of a growing organism. Even though it takes some careful planning and preparation, PPC is easy to execute.
Your first campaign will answer another big question that eavesdropped on your thoughts many a times: “Am I capable of running my own marketing department?”. Even if the answer is a shy “no”, now you know there are options in which you don’t have to run it yourself, yet still know what to look for in a successful PPC campaign.