Pay-per-click or PPC is a term many marketers are familiar with in theory, but in practice many may find the concept of a PPC marketing strategy complicated. To put it simply, advertisers pay a fee each time someone clicks on one of their ads.
Each year it seems that paid advertising is becoming less of an “option” but rather a must-have for your digital marketing strategy. However, it’s true that PPC may not right for every company – it all depends on your industry and budget. For example, some industries might have a ton of competition when it comes to paid ads and depending on your budget, utilizing PPC may or may not be feasible.
Another aspect to consider is whether you’re promoting products or services that are B2C or B2B. For B2C, running paid ads might immediately increase sales, but since B2B has a longer sales cycle, a well-planned and executed PPC strategy can be the perfect way to generate more leads for months to come.
The point is, it’s important to understand your market, what people are searching for and not only what search terms to include your strategy but also the search terms you should not include (negative search terms).
What Are the Advantages?
As you consider whether or not PPC marketing is right for your company, consider these advantages.
Instant response – A well-managed PPC campaign can produce fast results from your target audience.
Take advantage of business opportunities – Often, companies are up against competitors when they’re bidding on keywords. This also means that companies can use an appropriate strategy to take advantage of a competitor’s potential audience and meeting their needs with your company’s solution instead.
Track your success – When properly configured, PPC makes it easy to track success. It’s important not only to track clicks and cost per lead, but also to track any revenue attributable to your ads.
Ensures exposure and brand recognition – Setting up a branded keywords campaign is generally a less expensive way to get your brand to the top of search results.
Highly targeted – You can also make your ads highly targeted toward the people you want to reach by specifying geographic locations and other factors.
Costs – You have total control over how much you allocate toward your total budget as well as how much you bid on certain keywords and campaigns. It’s important, however, to make certain that your daily budget isn’t so small that it’s running out of money before it’s running out of people searching.
Goes beyond SEO – As we’ll explore in the next section, PPC can go beyond what SEO offers for short term success.
How Does PPC Work?
If you’re unfamiliar with how PPC works, let’s go over the basics. When running a PPC campaign, you select a set of keywords and choose a bid amount for each.
As far as strategy goes, you’re probably on a budget, so it makes sense to search for keywords that have a lower cost per click (or CPC). If you have a bit of money to work with, great! That means if you strategize correctly, you can position your ads to receive more views.
For competitive industries, finding keywords that are inexpensive can also be challenging, however it’s not impossible.
Types of Ads
There are two major types of ads – search and display. Focusing on search ads, these are the ads we see when we search for something on Google. For these, you bid on keywords, such as “physician practice management software”.
You decide a daily budget for each campaign and a maximum Cost Per Click (CPC) for each keyword. Let’s say that your daily budget is $10. Google will only spend roughly $10 but might go a bit over or might use nothing if your ads are not shown.
If your max CPC for that keyword was $1, you will pay no more than $1 for a click (visit) from a user who searches for and clicks your ad. Each keyword is given a quality score (from 1 to 10). Your quality score is made up of your bid, your click through rate, and the landing page experience.
The higher the quality score, the lower you pay for a click and more likely your ad is to be shown. Your ads are served for each of your keywords until users click your ads and use your entire budget for the day.
How an AdWords Auction Works
Since Google AdWords (and Google as a search engine) is the most commonly used, let’s take a look at how an AdWords auction works. Once someone enters a search query, these are the steps that take place as Google determines which ads to show searchers.
- Advertisers identify keywords they want to bid on, how much they want to spend, and then create groupings of keywords to pair with ads.
- Google determines which ad is shown and where based on the CPC bid and quality score. The best combination of bid and quality score receives the better position and is displayed more often.
- Google chooses how much you pay based on the ad rank of the person below you, divided by your quality score plus one cent.
Factors to Focus On
While there are many factors that can determine how successful your PPC marketing strategy will be, the three major areas to focus on include:
- Keyword Relevance
- Landing Page Quality
- Quality Score
Additional factors you will need to consider as you strategize include:
Audience – Demographic information, geographic data, and search terms.
Budget – Consider your budget before starting any campaigns.
Campaigns – Allow you to choose a focus, whether it’s for a particular event, service, product, or region.
Conversions – Shows how successful your campaigns are – whether that means a visitor simply views a page, subscribes to your blog, or registers for a webinar.
SEO vs. PPC: What Are the Differences?
If you’re not familiar with PPC, you may wonder how your strategy can work alongside search engine optimization. Essentially, an SEO strategy is ideal for the long-term – it can help to ensure that your web pages are ranking organically on search engine result pages.
A PPC marketing strategy, when executed properly, can produce more results in the short-term, ensuring that you bring the right visitors to your website by displaying ads that provide a solution to the challenges they’re facing.
Before we dive deeper, consider these commonly used terms:
PPC – Pay-per-click marketing, or PPC, includes any paid search marketing on search engines where businesses can bid on keywords used in searches.
SEO – Search engine optimization, which is the practice of optimizing website pages. Learn more about SEO best practices here.
SEM – Search engine marketing, which encompasses both PPC and SEO.
Content vs. Paid Marketing
As marketers, we’ve heard that content is king for YEARS. So you might be wondering, if content is so useful and can produce results for free, why utilize a paid marketing strategy?
Search Engine Journal offers some compelling pros and cons of each:
- Takes longer to produce ROI
- Difficult to find qualified writers & content creators
- Challenges with keeping up with writing content in-house
- Earns better leads
- Is cost effective
- Is successful as a long term investment
- Content agencies can assist with finding qualified writers
- PPC is costly in the long run
- Visibility disappears if you stop using
- PPC places you at the top of search engine results
- PPC can be affordable for some industries
How to Know if PPC is Right for Your Company
If you’re on the fence about whether or not PPC is right for your company, consider these three questions to determine if you should give PPC marketing a chance.
- How large is your website advertising budget?
- How high are the average CPCs in your industry?
- How competitive are the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in your niche?
Google vs. Bing
You may be wondering if you should consider Bing Ads, in addition to Google AdWords. While AdWords might be more widely used, Bing can have an impact as well, especially because their ads display on Bing, Yahoo, and AOL.
Consider that Bing currently has 33% market share in the United States, so for users not using Google, your ads have the potential to reach even more people in your audience.
As you weigh your options, consider the extensive pros and cons here.
Trends in PPC
While we don’t know much about coming PPC trends for 2019, a few that have been shifting in 2018 and we’ll likely continue to see in 2019 include:
- New search ad formats and extensions
- Voice search optimization
- Increase in visual search
- More options beyond keywords, such as targeting by audience
- Increased automation
- Need to prevent ads from showing up on inappropriate sites
- Rise of Bing Ads
Managing PPC In-house vs. Hiring An Agency
As you’ve soaked in all of this information about PPC, you might be wondering, can one person in-house do this for your company?
While there are many factors to consider, learning the ins and outs of PPC marketing can be a job in and of itself.
Similar to what we shared in this article, which explains why it's difficult for one in-house marketer to do it all, it would be a huge responsibility for one person on your marketing team to learn and manage all of your PPC strategy. Someone inexperienced in PPC may find it difficult to juggle PPC campaigns in addition to other marketing responsibilities.