What is PPC?
Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising system offered by Search Engines in which an advertiser pays for each click on their advert. PPC adverts can be displayed on Search Engine results pages (search targeted) and content websites (content targeted).
o Search targeted refers to search engine results pages (SERPs), where a user has searched for a specific keyword e.g. “car” and is delivered a page listing relevant PPC adverts that sit alongside the Organic Search results
o Content targeting refers to PPC adverts being displayed on content pages e.g. “car for sale” adverts being displayed on a website that contains content about cars
PPC adverts are most often displayed at the top, bottom and right-hand side of the SERPs. The position of the advert on the page is determined by a bidding system.
Although bidding higher amounts of money will generally result in a higher position, some Search Engines consider several factors in the ranking of adverts. Google, for example uses a “Quality Score” which considers the click-through rate (CTR) of your advert as well as the relevance of your ad text to both the keywords and your website’s landing page. The “Quality Score” also helps Google determine your cost per click (CPC). The less relevant your advert and landing page are, the more you will have to pay to display that advert in a high position.
The bidding price for the keyword is also highly variable. General keywords like “car rental” are more expensive and will generate more impressions than a specific keyword phrase like “cheap rental car in cape town”. As more and more companies adopt PPC marketing, keyword bidding prices are increasing and advert positioning is becoming more competitive. Therefore it is important to focus your budget on attracting the right type of people to your site by outlining a clear PPC strategy.
PPC Strategy – Phase 1: Initial Planning
In order to decide how you are going to run your PPC campaign, you need to consider the following:
The Traditional Stuff Applies!
Like every other online marketing exercise, you need a full online and an offline analysis of the business, customer demographics, the industry and competitors. You need a brand, an identity and of course a clear unique selling point.
Define Your Goal
The PPC golden rule: What do you want to achieve with your PPC campaign? Would you like to increase awareness of your site, or are you looking to attract more traffic? In most cases PPC adverts are focused on delivering conversions in the form of filling in an enquiry form or purchasing a product.
If you are looking to make money from PPC (isn’t everyone?); do you want best return on investment (ROI) or do you want more net profit (more conversions can be achieved with a lower ROI which will still result in an overall net profit increase)?
It is important to make sure you have one very clearly defined goal from PPC. It is not possible to always be seen in the top position for the important keywords (branding) and to achieve a good ROI at the same time.
How Does PPC Fit Into The Rest Of Your Online Strategy?
There are many different views on how PPC and SEO can work together and there are definite benefits in using the lessons learnt in one for the other.
PPC Strategy – Phase 2: Running the Campaign
Once you have addressed the above, you can choose how to run your PPC campaign considering all of the following elements:
o Campaign structure, which ensures your budget and stats are correctly focused (i.e. according to different products & brands or maybe according to different geographic markets)
o Keyword selection, which should contain the right balance of cost and relevance and should be considered alongside your SEO keyword selection
o Ad wording, which needs to communicate to the right market and contain as much detail about what you are offering in as few characters as possible
o Landing pages, which leave the customer with no doubt in their mind that they have found what they were looking for
o Tracking, which involves deciding what customer behaviour is important to you. This obviously includes the campaign goal (which defines the campaign profitability), but what else can you track to give you interesting insight into your customer? You’ve paid for the click – even if the person exits your site without converting, you can get value out of knowing why.
PPC Strategy – Phase 3: Testing and Optimising
Once you have set up your campaign and tracking, your PPC strategy moves into the vital testing and optimising phase.
Identify your priority keywords (the ones that convert best) as the ones to spend budget & time on. Take a second look at the keywords that don’t convert – there could be a simple reason why – perhaps you haven’t explained yourself properly in the advert or the landing page or maybe you need to ensure your advert is only showing for relevant searches through keyword matching.
Make sure you test your adverts. Test tone, wording, structure, offer details and display URLS. It is important to test both click-through rate and conversion rate as they both affect your campaign performance and it is a good way to see if you are meeting the customer expectations created by the advert.
Landing Page Management
The smallest change in a landing page can make a big difference to the profitability of your campaign. There are many important rules about landing page design (which is another topic in itself) including these important points:
o Build a landing page specifically designed to what the person has searched for
o Make sure you cover all the information a customer might ask for – speak to the sales team for this kind of information
o Use SEO – add some relevant content etc. This especially benefits you in Google
o Keep testing changes – use split tests if you have enough traffic
This can keep going right down to the font and colors you choose to use but the most important bit of advice would be (a traditional marketing tip) look through your customers eyes. If you can’t shake yourself from the technicalities of brilliant design ask a very honest person (similar to your customer in demographics) to look at the landing page for you.
PPC keyword research can offer great insight in finding new ways to package or market your product. For example, if you run a guest house in Cape Town, you should see through your keyword research that many people are looking for honeymoons in Cape Town and so could put a nice romantic honeymoon package together for them and thus expending your product.
Advantages of PPC over Other Mediums?
1. You Only Pay For What You Get
It’s called Pay Per Click because you only pay when someone clicks on your advert. Chances are that if those people are clicking on your advert, they are interested in what you are advertising. Therefore you don’t waste advertising budget marketing to people that aren’t interested in your product as you so often do in other advertising mediums.
2. You Only Spend What You Can Afford
PPC is cheap to set up and the budget is set by you. You decide how much you want to pay and can make immediate changes if you decide it is going well and want to invest more or vice versa.
3. Accurate Targeting
You don’t just put your advert out there for everyone to see. In fact, it’s more like customers come looking for you! Your potential customer types “Durban Hotel” into the search bar because they are looking for a hotel in Durban. PPC marketing can also be targeted more specifically to certain countries, regions within countries, languages and even times of day.
4. Nobody Is Too Small or Too “Niche”
There are no limits on budgets so PPC marketing is available to even the smallest of businesses. Due to the fact that you can target specific locations and keywords, even the most niche-targeted businesses can find potential customers.
5. Fast Set Up and Immediate Results
While SEO can take months before it starts showing results, PPC can be set up and delivering measurable sales statistics within a day! This makes it particularly ideal for short-term or seasonal promotions.
6. Accurate Trackability
PPC marketing can be tracked accurately and with very little lag time. You can measure which keywords are the most cost effective and which keywords bring in the most conversions. You can also track exactly how much money each keyword brought in and accurately work out your ROI. Using these statistics you can focus your strategy and optimize your campaign to bring in the highest ROI possible.
So there you have it! It all sounds quite simple and logical – it is for this reason that many individuals consider doing it themselves. So why get a professional? “Consider hiring an expert. This work is tedious, and requires constant monitoring. Submitting to the pay search engines is a process not an event. It is a chess game, and you need to manage every detail. A true professional will not cost you money; they will make you money.” The quote says it all.