Nowadays, businesses need to consider how best to utilise online marketing methods to reach prospective customers. The reality is that for most people delving into the digital landscape of paid advertising, it can seem like a complicated and costly process.
To address this issue, search engines such as Google have simplified their offered advertising methods to enable businesses to show adverts within their search listings, this is where Pay-Per-Click (PPC) comes into the equation.
What is PPC?
Pay Per Click is a method of online marketing where you only pay when your ad is clicked on, rather than paying upfront or when your advert is actually seen. It may also be referred to as cost per click, paid search, paid listings or sponsored ads.
Through Google’s freely accessible website ‘AdWords’, businesses can use this pay-per click method to list adverts at the top of Google’s rankings for certain keywords. The position in which your advert appears is calculated using your ‘Ad Rank’, this is determined by the maximum amount you are willing to pay per click, the competitiveness of the industry, i.e. how much are your competitors willing to pay, and your ‘Quality Score’. Your quality score is determined by Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your adverts and keywords as well as your click-through-rate (CTR).
PPC adverts can be distinguished by the almost unnoticeable ‘Ad’ icon:
How Could It Be Valuable To My Business?
1. Target customers who are actively searching for your product or service
PPC marketing allows you to target specific searches based on you choosing the terms that you want to show your advert for, these are called ‘keywords’.
By choosing keywords that are relevant to your product/service, you are hand picking the terms you believe users will be searching to find your services. Keywords may be chosen to target specific customers, e.g. “men’s basketball shoes”, specific brands, e.g. “Nike shoes”, or desired services, such as “conservatory installation”. The addition of keyword match types also allows you to tell Google how modestly or aggressively you want to show adverts for searches relevant to your keywords.
You first must build up some data on the performance of each keyword before figuring out which ones are most valuable and lead users to complete your website goals, as well as which ones are not performing, these can be paused and restarted in future if desired. Also, you can assess the value of each keyword you use on Google AdWords by looking at the search terms report, which allows you to see what searches triggered your keyword to show an advert.
2. You’re in Control
With PPC marketing through Google AdWords, you can set all aspects of the advertising process to your individual business needs.
After choosing the keywords you desire you will need to group them into themes, based on the products/services you offer, this can be done by splitting them into campaigns. By having separate campaigns, you can set each an individual daily budget based on how much you would like to spend on the keywords within a campaign. The daily budget amount set can be altered as you please.
The amount which you bid to gain your position within search rankings can be set for each individual keyword, giving you control over what you want to pay in relation to the value of the potential actions that a keyword can obtain. After gaining data for a keyword at a certain bid amount, you will be able to see the average position in Google’s listing that this bid amount is attaining currently, giving you the information you need to adjust the amount as desired.
You also need to create adverts to use for your PPC advertising. These are written by the advertiser, giving you the freedom to push the promotional message you desire. You are able to make changes to your adverts as often as you desire, this will keep your ad text fresh and relevant. Multiple adverts can also be tested at the time allowing experimentation in finding the optimum message for your services.
3. Sophisticated Targeting
To help you to reach your target audience, Google AdWords has location targeting options which allow you to define the audience you would like to reach by city, town, country, postcode or within a radius of a desired location, or a mixture of all of these, allowing you to specify where your business trades.
I often get asked by clients “What if I only want to show my adverts during business hours?”. You can set ad schedules for each campaign and tell Google what hours of the day you would like to show your adverts. Schedules can be edited as required or automated rules can be used to turn adverts on/off automatically.
You can also choose which devices you would like the user you are showing ads to be using, these are categorised as the three main types of devices: Computers, mobiles and tablets. This would be ideal for a business whose call-to-action is to get users to call after seeing the advert, in this scenario, you can limit your targeting to only show ads exclusively on mobiles. Segmenting the performance on each device is also possible, so you know how your ads perform on each platform.
4. Instantly list your business at the top of Google
All business know that being listed on Google is very useful for gaining enquires/sales, however few of us will ever look past the first page of results when using a search engine.
If you need to gain traffic and sales, you can immediately set up adverts through AdWords and bypass all the organic search results to list yourself at the top. Of course you will only remain here as long as you keep paying, campaigns can easily be switched on/off so you are in control of your ad spend.
5. Easy to measure return on investment
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” John Wanamaker (1838 -1922)
Unlike advertising in traditional media, all aspects of PPC through AdWords are measurable, down to the minutest statistic, this includes the number of impressions, clicks and leads/sales that come from your advert.
Using these recorded performance statistics, AdWords can then calculate the value of leads/sales against the money spent on advertising to work out your return on investment (ROI). Reviewing figures such as these and many other included metrics gives great insights which can be applied through further optimisation at both campaign and account level.
AdWords data can also be linked to your Google Analytics account, enabling you to see the complete customer lifecycle across all your channels, allowing you to see how they all interact together and help users towards completing your website goals (e.g. enquire, purchase), further helping you to understand your customer journey.
A common question which I also get asked is “Once a customer has left our business, how do we make them come back?”
Through Google AdWords, we can use a remarketing campaign to show banner image adverts to users who have previously viewed your website, later when they are browsing the web or on YouTube, this is done through Google using browser cookies to add website visitors into pre-defined audiences. By regularly showing past visitors adverts, it acts as a reminder and helps entice them to return, to complete your desired action. You can choose the characteristics of users you add to an audience by refining them using elements relating to how they first interacted with your website once clicking your ad, e.g. visited but did not purchase, allowing you to define the types of users you want to reach again. Multiple audiences and remarketing campaigns can be used at the same time.
7. Shopping Adverts
If your business has a lot of products and you are concerned at the idea of sourcing a huge number of keywords, retailers with a large product range can use Shopping adverts to easily list a lot of products. Google uses your product data to decide when to show your adverts, removing the need for keywords, meaning you only need to choose and optimise your bid amount to maintain your product ads, making it a far easier management process.
The key difference with Shopping ads to text ads is the use of an image and price of your product in the advert, rather than a text description. The use of this information helps better qualify the traffic for which your adverts are receiving clicks, seeing an image and price helps users to perceive it visually. Also, users who are searching for a specific product are likely further along in the purchase consideration process, meaning that they are likely ready to buy, which studies have revealed can lead to a 26% higher conversion rate, saving you money spent on clicks.
Sounds too hard? Try AdWords Express
If you are interested in using AdWords for PPC marketing but lack the time to regularly update the account or to properly learn how to manage it (or if all this talk of keywords and targeting is making your head spin) then it would be worth trying Google’s simplified programme ‘AdWords Express’.
It is specifically designed for small businesses, there is a simple guided set-up process requiring only basic information to get you started. It includes features allowing you to write your ad message, choose your budget and targeting. The entire process can be complete in under 10 minutes, making it the ideal entry method to PPC for SMEs.
Considerations Before Starting PPC
Despite all the benefits of using PPC, there a still a few factors that must be considered as to whether PPC is viable for your business.
Firstly, can you afford it? Although it is free to use AdWords, the procedure of launching an account and testing keywords to gain data will mean that you will have to invest ad spend for a certain period before you begin to see any return on your investment in terms of sales or leads.
Also, due to the intricacy of managing a PPC account, the process of learning how best to manage your account can increase the potential waste of your budget as you get to grips with correctly using keywords, adverts and bid strategies. More difficult elements involved in account management, such as setting up performance tracking and linking your PPC account to Analytics, can deter first time advertisers from using PPC. This is why many businesses choose to use an experienced agency to manage their accounts, however this is a cost that must be considered against what you expect your return on investment on PPC advertising will be.
Finally, the website to which you will be sending the traffic from adverts plays a key role in your success. You can be correctly running your PPC adverts and gaining user traffic to your website, but if your website does not convert users to take the actions which you desire, e.g. enquire, then you will be gaining no return for the money you are spending on adverts to gain this traffic. This is why many businesses choose to build a bespoke webpage for a particular theme of products or services, this is called a landing page.
To find out more or just get some honest advice about how PPC could be beneficial to your business please contact us at Anicca Digital.