A question that comes up time and time again when speaking with business owners and marketers alike: why use pay per click advertising?
The notion of paying per click can be quite scary for businesses. SEO and social media offer ‘free clicks’, so what gives and how do you keep costs spiralling out of control?
Most of the time, pay per click advertising, also referred to as PPC for short, offers a direct route to your market that cannot be achieved as easily by other channels without a significant time investment. And let’s not forget that time is our most precious resource.
This post covers a few benefits that PPC advertising can gift your business, some recommended things to have in place before you start, and a method to calculate what budget you need for your PPC campaign.
Having a measurable value placed on every click is extremely useful data. You can work out how many clicks it takes on average before somebody places an enquiry or makes a sale. This gives you a clear Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) value, which is a good metric to have sight of.
It can be refreshing to have hard data that translates to tangible value to enable decisions that grow your business. This is even more relevant for B2B businesses in more traditional sectors where social interactions are often lower and less attributable to results. People have a need for your product or service, and they want to find you quickly and search with intent using keywords relevant to their need.
Why use Pay Per Click advertising?
1. It can take far less time to see tangible results
Social, content and ‘inbound’ are two words you’ll hear bandied around the digital marketing world. Whilst they can be hugely effective, it takes a lot of time to implement and to return consistent results, if at all.
Your content has to be great, and you will need a significant distribution budget to accelerate your return on spend. Otherwise, you might be waiting a while and racking up employment or agency fees in the hope of something bearing fruit.
Pay per click advertising in contrast is super quick and generates instant data that can be leveraged to make informed decisions that move you forwards as a business.
2. Rapidly test your marketing
Pay per click advertising is instant. It enables you, a business owner or marketing professional, to reach your intended audience immediately. This gives you far more ability to test your keywords, geographic locations, audience types, messaging, and much more without having to endure the pain of gaining traction first.
If smart marketing is about testing, then PPC is a great choice of channel to test out some of your theories before rolling out similar campaigns across other channels to deliver more predictable long-term results. PPC offers you an unprecedented depth of audience targeting that layers demographic data with interests and more, meaning you can test a dozen audience types in no time at all.
If something works, scale it to produce more results. If it doesn’t work, pull or revise it without having invested significant time or resource into the creation and distribution of something that you don’t yet know if it will work or not.
3. Reach new customers, fast
Your blog posts and social media chat might get to your network, and might penetrate some of your network’s network. However, without budget and/or show-stopping content, it’s pretty wishful thinking.
Why stop there? PPC advertising gifts you the ability to reach completely new audiences with unbeatable control. If seasonality or time specific offers are a key part of your business, then speed is essential to your success.
4. Re-engage existing customers, or save lost opportunities
The ability to remarket to website visitors gives you the ability to build up the awareness of your brand at a general or product/service level. Maybe your visitor abandoned their cart? Perhaps they visited your website on their mobile whilst on their commute to work, and you’d like to re-engage them when they open their laptop later on?
The official Google Adwords website lists a number of key benefits. Here are just three:
- Access to people when they’re likely to buy: You can reach people who’ve interacted with your business. You can advertise to them when they’re searching, visiting other websites and using other mobile apps.
- Lists focused on your advertising: Create remarketing lists for specific cases. For example, a list targeted to people who added something to their shopping basket but didn’t complete a transaction.
- Large-scale reach: You can reach people on your remarketing lists across their desktop and mobile devices.
5. Gain exposure to new customers
Let’s face it; your business needs leads and sales. If you’re a small business without substantial brand recognition and following, you’d be wise to give your marketing the boost it needs to reach your target customers.
Content can work for smaller businesses of course, but needs a robust strategy behind it. Many case studies promote how a content campaign has worked for larger well-known brands and this is typically because they have large engaged social followings built up aggressively over an extended period of time, and put huge budgets towards distribution… Paid budget that is.
This post is not meant to bash content or social as both are fantastic channels in their own right. Rather, it’s been written to open your mind to the possibility of PPC not being as expensive as it’s often made out to be.
If a piece of content takes an hour to research, three hours to write, and an hour to proof, tidy, and publish (and this is being generous!), then that’s
6. Pay Per Click Campaign Measurability
PPC advertising is fully accountable. There is no hiding behind the data, and the results are transparent. As an award-winning provider of digital marketing services, it’s refreshing to talk about hard metrics such as Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), and Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) with our clients.
The results of content, for example, can be shrouded in a confusing blend of metrics that don’t really mean much at all – time on page, page views, and the like when viewed in isolation. Social can be even worse, honing in on surface level wins such as ‘follower growth’. You want to know that for every £1 invested, you generated £x in revenue.
These have their place, however, the number of occasions where a client has invested a tonne of time into activities that have yielded very little return is staggering. If you can first prove concept with a paid campaign, then content in particular can be far more powerful as a result.
What do you need to start PPC advertising?
You’ll need to get a few things in place before you jump in to PPC advertising. After all, marketing costs money, so you want to be prepared before you go and waste it on a DIY job. The objective is to make every pound count.
Firstly, it’s most important that you recognise if your business can handle the extra leads or sales that will come from PPC advertising. If you don’t have a sound sales process, available stock, or a robust order process, then you’re going to set yourself up for failure.
Ensure you have a proper plan of action. What would you like to achieve? How do you plan to achieve it? What measures are you going to put into place to track success or failure learnings? What creative copy or assets will you need?
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out average CPC values for your keywords, and multiply those costs by the number of clicks you think you’ll need to run a proper test that has a fair chance of yielding results.
Once you have identified what it is that you want to achieve, you’re going to need some budget. As an example, plan around £1,000 per test. Assume a Cost Per Click (CPC) of £1 and this will enable you to drive 1,000 clicks to your website. CPCs vary depending on the size of the opportunity – the more lucrative a keyword is, the more likely it is that competitors will be driving the bid up as they’re willing to spend more to land the deal, or want to prevent new challengers from entering in on their fun.
PPC is, essentially, based on a bidding system meaning that, all other things being equal, the person with the biggest budget will get the most visibility/clicks. However, someone could have a higher total budget than you but you could still outbid them on a certain keyword, opening up an opportunity.
If a keyword is £10 per click, it’s normally because it performs. It’s very unlikely that multiple competitors will strive to outbid each other to waste their hard-earned marketing budgets.
If you dilute your budget too much, you simply won’t get the visibility or data to make insightful decisions.
Cross-reference this with Google Trends to see how the demand for a keyword has evolved over time. There is typically a correlation between more demand and a higher CPC. The example below shows the steady growth in demand for log burners in the UK.
Place pixel tracking on your website to make sure that you’re able to measure your performance. Even if you aren’t looking to start immediately, get the pixels on now to start helping with lookalike audiences (see below) and remarketing efforts.
Build up lookalike audiences to give you an advantage when it comes to your audience. It’s possible to take your existing database of customers and to plug them into your paid platform of choice. Ideally email addresses are best, but you can take web traffic too. This will scour the network for people who ‘look’ the same as your customers – by demographic, interests, and more. These people might just be your next customers…
Professional help! Like anything else, if you’re spending a considerable amount of money, you’d be wise to seek help from those who manage and optimise PPC campaigns on a daily basis. DIY jobs can represent more value for micro campaigns, but the stakes are higher and the impact of positive/negative changes are amplified on larger budgets.
What PPC budget do I need?
Whilst it’s not going to be 100% accurate due to many factors, bid value and Quality Score (QS) to name a few, here is a great starting point to understanding what budget you will need to allocate to achieve your goals:
Of course, in the example above you would hope that your website was converting at more than 1%. With a 2.5% conversion rate, for example, you would only require 400 visitors at an estimate cost of £740 – 60% less than the starting point above. This highlights how essential it is to optimise your PPC campaigns continuously for best results.
The wonderful thing about paid advertising is that the results can be forecasted fairly accurately once an average has been established, since the law of averages would suggest that over a long period of time, the highs will cancel out the lows and an average will form.
In the example above, you can toggle figures such as improving your conversion rate %. This will bring down the required visitors needed to achieve your goal. Or you could try to reduce your average CPC value by improving the quality of your ads, your targeting, your messaging, and your landing pages. This is part of the optimisation we run at part of our PPC service on a continuous basis for our clients to achieve the most optimal outcome.