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An Alternative Guide To PPC Advertising

March 25, 2020
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written by Amber Dawson
Copywriter

PPC advertising is a cost-effective way to turn users into paying customers. This guide will look at how it works and the benefits to your business.

If you’re looking to bring in more customers to your business, and you’re not already advertising online, you’re about to be in for the shock of your life.

When someone is in need of a product or service, the first thing they reach for is technology. Whether it be a smartphone, laptop, iPad or Alexa, search is now so readily available it’s only natural that it’s people’s first point of call.

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are an effective way to get your business in front of those searches. This is great for many reasons:

  1. The people searching have high intent e.g are ready to buy now
  2. You can control who your ads are shown to and when
  3. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and is taken to your website

Without further ado, let’s cover all the PPC basics so you can leave feeling ready to master online advertising. (Your profits will thank you.)

What is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click which is an advertising model that charges every time someone clicks on your ad. These are typically seen at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), such as Google or Bing.

New Google ad on a Google SERP
An ad on a Google SERP

PPC ads cover a range of formats with paid search being the most popular and most common. You can also pay to display your ads in more visual forms, such as banners and image-based ads across different websites. Social media platforms also offer this service with Facebook being the biggest; those ads that seem to follow you around the internet are called remarketing ads and are designed to target people who have interacted with them before.

But let’s stick with Paid Search for now, as it’s the quickest, easiest and simplest to set up. And this way, you can start getting results fast.

You set up your ads using the Google Ads platform. From there, you determine who can see your ads based on keyword match types, how much you want to spend and what message you want to display – you’re in total control.

A vital piece of PPC advertising is the keywords you choose. You enter into an automated auction process against your competitors to determine whose ad gets to the top of the SERPs. The beauty of PPC is that you can use keywords combined with your audience settings to really target your ‘ideal customer’ – no more wasting time or money on people who are unlikely to buy.

The growth of PPC platforms

It all really kicked off with Google Adwords (now known as Google Ads) and now Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Bing, LinkedIn, Reddit and Pinterest all offer paid ads. Some of these fall under one another, for instance, Instagram is owned by Facebook and so its ads are managed under the same platform.

But what is key to note is the rate in which PPC ads have grown. Here are some examples:

Similarly, Google sees 3.5 billion searches a day – you aren’t going to find a bigger audience than that.

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The benefits of PPC vs traditional advertising

A quick note on what PPC isn’t and how it compares to traditional advertising methods such as leafleting. The main challenge with traditional ads is that their success is difficult to measure. How do you know who’s seen your ads? How many people have taken action? Was the cost worth it? These questions have only hazy answers.

With PPC ads, you have the data right at your fingertips whenever you like. Not only can you see how your ads are performing, but you can also make improvements based on your results. This enables your campaigns to get better and, ultimately, bring in more customers for less budget each time. You can also “spy” on your competitors with third-party tools like SpyFu and iSpionage to gain an upper hand and boost performance.

However, it’s important to recognise at this stage that PPC isn’t a magical answer to all your advertising needs. Nor will it run itself. It’s important to have a firm grasp of how PPC works and what its main purposes are, primarily the fact that it will not take care of itself. The good news, however, is that there are some great tools and software out there, often for free, that will make online advertising a lot easier. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty with 5 benefits to PPC advertising.

Benefit #1 – everyone else is, so you need to get in the game

Paid ads are becoming increasingly competitive as more people realise the benefits of PPC.

Ranking organically (without paying) is difficult because there’s less control. But with paid ads, you can bid for placements and have more control over where you rank. This is determined on factors such as your Quality Score, relevancy and landing page experience – essentially how helpful your ad is in answering a user’s query.

With paid ads, you get to rank above the organic results, making you more likely to get clicked on.

Benefit #2 – control

You set the budget, timeframe, ads, everything. It’s all in your hands and you can always turn things off and revisit them at a later date. It’s also recommended to start off small and grow things slowly: baby steps. Everything is also measurable and trackable so you can keep tabs on every inch of what’s going on.

Benefit #3 – it’s easy to integrate with other things

You can build your PPC campaigns in line with your social media strategy, with your marketing campaigns and SEO plans. Everything can work together in harmony once you’re up and running. It’s really a great long term plan for your business.

Benefit #4 – compete against the big guns

If you feel like a tiny fish in a gigantic, bustling ocean, then PPC is how you level the playing field. PPC advertising isn’t about experience, it’s about what you have to offer and how you offer it. Understand the basics of PPC, give users a streamlined, easy experience and you’ll be stealing customers off your competitors in no time.

Benefit #5 – focus

Just in case you needed one more reason, you’ll be pleased to hear PPC allows you to target only those who are ideal for your business. And, through things such as negative keyword lists, you can exclude those you don’t want to target. Popular keywords for these lists are terms such as ‘free’ which, as a company, you’re unlikely to want to rank for.

How does it work?

Account structure

Google Ad Groups Diagram
A basic Google Ads account structure

You kick things off by creating a campaign. It’s good practice to make multiple campaigns if you have multiple aims. For instance, if you want to create more brand awareness, that should be a separate set of ads to those that are promoting your latest deal. Without splitting things up, you can easily mix your messages and confuse your customer: if they see an ad boasting a great discount, and get taken to a page other than one telling them about that offer, they’ll be confused and click back. Also, by having clear goals for each ad set, you can measure their success more fairly.

Keywords

Next, your focus will be on what keywords you want to bid on. Each keyword comes with an approximate cost-per-click (CPC) which is dependent on how competitive that word is. For example, words such as ‘insurance’ can cost upwards of £50 a click because of how saturated that industry is. Whereas long-tail keywords like ‘red suede large handbag’ are likely to be cheaper as only specific sellers will be bidding on that. This isn’t to say that if you’re in the insurance world you’re going to be spending a fortune; it’s all about working out what your specific offering is and who is most likely to click your ads. From there, you can work out a plan to target those people with a laser-focus.

Ad copy

Ad copy is a dealbreaker. It’s your direct line to your potential customers – but you only have a few seconds of opportunity. What your message says is highly important, yet you don’t have to get it bang on the first time around. Start with what you think is right, look at your competitors for inspiration, and then tweak from there. See what gets clicked on more and replicate that in your other campaigns. What’s important is that you’re telling people the benefits of choosing you, rather than the hundreds of other results.

Bids

All bids are automated and based on a few things: your budget and your Quality Score. Your Quality Score is a score from 1-10 given to you by Google. It rates the quality of your ads based on things such as relevancy and landing page experience. The higher your score, the less search engines will charge you for clicks.

Keeping an eye on your budget can be hard work, after all you don’t know how your ads are going to perform straight away. Technology can really help with this by monitoring your ads 24/7 and notifying you of any significant changes. For instance, through automation, the Adzooma platform allows you to set up automation rules that are triggered when a certain event happens. An example: you can set up a rule so that if the number of clicks on an ad is less than 50, the ad becomes paused. This is great because it stops you from wasting budget on an underperforming campaign.

Split testing

How do you know what changes to your ads are going to succeed and which are going to fall flat on their face? Well, you don’t. Unless you have an Opportunity Engine behind you.

The answer is this: test, test, test.

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is where you have two separate ads, the original and a variant, both of which are live, which you then look at the results of to see which has performed better. Say, one ad had a CTA button and the other didn’t, and the one with the button outperformed the other tenfold, you could confidently add CTA buttons to all your other ads knowing it would be a smart change.

Similarly, this allows you to make small, incremental changes to your campaigns without your results taking a dramatic nosedive. PPC is all about slow and steady so you can win that race against your competitors.

Busting that jargon

To help you out, here a handy mini-guide of all the PPC terminology you’re likely to come across on your journey.

  • SERP: search engine results page = e.g Google results
  • CPC: cost per click = how much each click is costing you (total ad spend / total clicks)
  • CTR: click-through rate = the number of people who clicked on your add out of how many saw it (total clicks divided by total impressions)
  • ROI: return on investment = how much you get back in comparison to what your costs were
  • ROAS: return on ad spend = same as above, but specifically to your advertising budget (revenue from ads divided by money spent on ads, then multiplied by 100)
  • CPA: cost per acquisition = how much it cost to get a new customer (total ad spend divided by total acquisitions)
  • Impressions = the number of times your ad appeared on the SERPs

The future is automation

With online advertising offering so much and covering such a vast amount of online space, many ways to speed its process up have emerged. The pinnacle of this is AI.

Through machine learning and automation, PPC management has become much, much easier. Now, you not only have access to vast amounts of data, but you can use software which interprets it all for you. Better yet, it can then make improvements to your campaigns – all it needs is your approval.

Introducing: Adzooma, the only online advertising platform you’ll ever need. This software allows you to manage, automate and optimise your Google, Facebook and Microsoft ads. Get your PPC ads up and running, and then try the free trial to ensure they’re bringing in as many customers as possible.

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