PPC 101

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PPC Marketing 101

Imagine someone typing into a search engine with the intent to find your product or service. SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time to make your website rank on the first or second page of Google. If you want to show up tomorrow for specific keywords, the only way to do that is to pay for traffic.

How do you get predictable and affordable traffic now? If you cannot wait forever to get:

More traffic
More leads
More conversions

You might consider PPC (pay per click) marketing. Google Ads is the best place to start when it comes to pay-per-click. In this kind of marketing, you only pay when somebody clicks on your ad.

How PPC Works

There is a keyword auction where you can bid a certain amount of money to rank for particular keywords. Google bases the sale on bidding and quality score, which is measured by user experience. For example, are people clicking on your website and bouncing? Or are they staying on it and converting to customers?

In competitive industries, the bidding price goes up when there is high demand. High-value items have a high-value click, so those keywords often cost more. For example, a cost-per-click for a $3 product is going to be cheaper than if you are selling a high ticket item as life insurance.

What Are PPC Keywords?

If you have never engaged in PPC marketing before, it may seem intimidating to structure your campaign. You can begin to layout your strategy by revisiting your marketing goals.

For example, you might be trying to:

Generate leads for your sales reps
Generate leads for a particular product or service that’s exceptionally profitable
Position your brand as the best in a competitive industry

If you are not sure what your goal is, you can start by looking at your sales funnel. Do you need to focus on nurturing (top of the funnel) or conversions (bottom of the funnel)?

PPC Brand Awareness

If you are looking to create brand awareness or demand, you can use a cheaper platform such as Facebook Ads, where the cost-per-click is less. On a platform like Facebook ads, people might not be ready to buy from you yet. Instead, you can offer them something like a downloadable guide. Doing so provides value and makes your prospects more likely to remember you when they are ready to buy.

It doesn’t hurt to invest in top of the funnel keywords. It can help build your long-term SEO strategy. The best way to get a positive ROI is to synchronize them with purpose on each web page.

For example, you wouldn’t have a quote request form on a page that is ranking for “web design ideas.” A better resource to have on that page is a downloadable guide, which you can give in exchange for an email address. Once you’ve built an email list, you can later use it for generating conversions.

PPC Leads

In a lead generation strategy, it goes beyond just getting traffic to your website. There needs to be a focus on keywords and the intent behind them because you ultimately want a positive ROI. Going for conversions means you will need a very disciplined keyword strategy. Look for keywords pointing to the bottom of the funnel.

For example, a person who is searching for “web design service” is most likely ready to hire a company. If someone is searching for “web design ideas,” that’s more top of the funnel and doesn’t reflect buying intent.

Most companies start with keywords at the bottom of the funnel because they show buying intent. They also have a different set of research-related keywords as part of a long-term SEO strategy. You can organize your keywords by category. For example, you might have:

  • Different sets of keywords for different platforms (i.e., Google Ads vs. social media).
  • Broad match keywords
  • Exact match keywords
  • Phrase match keywords

PPC Match Types: Exact Match vs. Broad Match

With an exact match, your ads will only trigger if a person punches in those exact keywords (i.e., for “how to build a website,” a person would have to type in that exact phrase). Exact match can have limitations, but it prevents wasted money on irrelevant clicks. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to grow paid traffic, you are going to have to go outside of the exact match because there may only be so many exact searches.

You can also add negative keywords to remove anything irrelevant. How to identify negative keywords:

Pull up your search query report
Look at every keyword that got you a click and how much you paid for it
Pick out keywords that you don’t want

For example, if you are selling shoes and you don’t want clicks related to white shoes, you can put “white” as a negative keyword. You can do this with factors like colors, brands, prices, etc.

Branded Vs. Non-Branded Keywords

If somebody is searching for your company name, should you pay for that click or hope they scroll down and find you organically? It depends on what your competition is doing. Many competitors will bid on your brand name, so sometimes it is a necessary evil. If they are stealing your traffic and customers, then you should consider bidding on it.

If competitors bid on your brand named, they’re only going to get traffic from people who know you. Branded searches are relatively cheap because nobody else is competing for them.

“Secondly, you get to dictate what you want to put on the ad copy, whereas in SEO, you really can’t. You put the title tags and hope that’s what Google is showing. You can dictate what you want to show on that and from a cost perspective, it’s almost like as cheap as you can get.” – Solomon Thimothy

Should you be bidding on your competitors’ keywords?

Again, it generally depends on your industry you’re. If you’re in a competitive market where your competitors have a more significant share of the market and brand awareness, you may benefit from piggybacking on those terms. If people are actively searching for that company, it usually means they are an existing customer, or they have decided they want to become a customer, which is the perfect time to get in front of that audience.

Enticing ad copy and a well-designed landing page (maybe even a comparison page that explains the benefits of your product vs. the competition’s product), will put you in an excellent position to attract some of those customers. One thing you must avoid doing, however, is to be deceitful. You can’t pretend to be your competition, but you can convince them that you have a better solution.

PPC Google Analytics

Using Google Ads, it is easy to analyze your strategy through your results. Whether you’re looking at cost-per-click, cost-per-lead, etc., Google Ads reports everything from impressions to clicks to shares, and more.

Many marketers make the mistake of optimizing for clicks. The two most important factors you want to look at are your cost per lead and cost per acquisition.

For example, if you spend $100 to generate one lead, and every five leads create one customer, then you know your cost of acquisition is $500. If you sell something worth $50,000 and each client stays with you for three years, then your lifetime value is $150,000. Over the next three years, all you will need to do is spend $500 to make $150,000.

If you only optimize based on the cost per lead ($100 in this example), you may look at different cheaper channels and buy contacts but if you don’t measure how many are converting to customers (and what kind of customers you’re getting), the return on investment may not be as valuable.

If you can drive relatively cheap clicks that aren’t converting right away, it might not be too late to get the most out of that strategy.

For example, if you are retargeting through social media, relevant traffic from there can efficiently fuel your marketing campaign. Looking at the big picture is a great way to determine how you can make your current PPC strategy work for you.

The bottom line is that digital marketing is not a linear path. The best strategy is to look at the big picture. If your current campaign isn’t converting, you don’t have to stop spending money on it. Instead, look at why it is not converting. Audit the landing page that you’re sending people to and see if there are any changes you can make. Look at your remarketing channels and measure what you’re doing to stay in front of your audience.

PPC For Beginners

If you are just getting started with PPC, Google is the best way to begin. Here’s what you can do to get started:

Create an account if you don’t already have one

Determine your budget and bids (ask yourself how much you would pay to get a lead)
Research – start with the bottom of the funnel keywords and begin to expand it from there (exact match is more effective than a broad match)
Set up a competitor campaign
Set up a product/service campaign

If PPC is something entirely new for you, or if you are in a very competitive market, you might consider seeking professional help to start with because Google will take your money very fast regardless of whether you bid on the wrong keywords, don’t have a useful landing page, etc. If you need help with PPC, you can reach out to an agency, consultant, or individual who specializes in this type of marketing.