For hundreds of years, businesses relied on print advertising to get the word out about their products and services. Anyone remember this guy?
Then along came the digital age: technology that opened up the world of online advertising and vastly increased companies’ ability to reach their target audience. Booooom.
Almost overnight, the limitations of print advertising were eliminated: companies could respond quickly to changing market trends and advertise themselves for a fraction of the cost. Like actual pennies.
Digital channels such as websites, search engines and social media have enabled ads to be targeted like never before, based on people’s interests, as well as their age, gender and where they live. Powerful stuff.
Compared to its print counterpart, online advertising and PPC services are more flexible than a world-class ballerina. Companies can react immediately to even the slightest shift in user behaviour or chuck out a misfiring ad as analytics track click-through rates, conversion rates and return on investment.
More than ever before, businesses can see in near-real time whether their campaigns are being effective and make data-driven decisions about what direction to take next. Smart, eh.
But which form of digital advertising is the most effective? Come with us and let’s explore the world of pay per click (PPC) ads.
Social media marketing, SEO strategy and PPC ads
When it comes to digital marketing, businesses are spoiled for choice. Each has its benefits but they are all different and serve different purposes.
Social media strategy
Millions of companies, from solopreneurs to global corporations use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to bang the drum as loud as they can for their brands. It too offers opportunities for organic growth, or you can invest in paid social media ads if you need quicker results.
This sort of marketing campaign aims to build brand awareness, engage with customers and (not-so) gently nudge them in the direction of your website or online store.
That said, as a marketing tool, be prepared to play the long game as you build relationships with customers and establish a brand presence.
Typically, brands generate a following on various platforms by creating and sharing content, including video and blog posts, that resonates with their target audience.
Search and you will find
SEO (search engine optimisation) is the practice of optimising a website with the most relevant keywords so it is more attractive to search engines. It can help your business rank higher in a search engine results page and drive organic traffic to the site.
Like social marketing, crafting an effective SEO strategy takes patience and time, requiring regular optimisation and refinement to maintain and improve rankings. If the thought of it puts you to sleep or you’re just too-damn-busy, we can help.
Brands using PPC advertising pay for clicks on ads appearing in SERPs or on social media platforms. It aims to drive targeted traffic to a website or landing page, as well as generate leads or sales.
Unlike organic social and SEO, PPC advertising is highly targeted to specific demographics or geographic regions. Bish, bash, bosh.
What is pay per click (PPC)?
Advertisers use PPC to increase traffic to their websites, paying a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Although it does require shelling out your hard-earned, it can be a lot faster compared to organic methods.
The process works by companies deciding how much they want to pay for particular keywords related to their products or services eg how much a click is worth to their business, against the lifetime value of a customer.
With a realistic click budget, the better the chance of obtaining a high ad placement (we’ll come to that later) and therefore, increased visibility to potential customers. Before you start getting all Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the main benefits of pay per click advertising is its ability to generate highly-qualified leads and increase the potential to convert them into paying customers.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to cost £££. Sighs of relief all round.
What are the different types of PPC ads?
When it comes to types of PPC ads, unlike your average High Street clothes shop, it’s definitely not a case of one size fits all. There are several types and each comes with its own unique benefits and can be tailored to suit your business’ needs.
Search ads are typically text-based, comprising a headline, description, and URL and are the most common type of Google Ads. These ads appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when users type in keywords related to the advertiser’s products or services.
These graphical ads appear on websites, mobile apps and video content across the internet. Think images, videos and animations in a variety of formats such as banners, pop-ups (of the non-infuriating kind) and in-app ads.
This hugely popular ad format can be displayed on websites, as well as YouTube, social media and Google Search. Bonus: they can play before or during other video content – known as in-stream – or out-stream, shown on websites and apps.
The next time you search for something on Google, check out the ads that appear at the top of the search engine results pages. These are called Shopping ads, a powerful e-commerce tool serving up product images, prices and other details. Great for buying nine pairs of stilettos in one day during lockdown, eh Miss Goode.
This form of PPC ads promote mobile apps and aims to boost installs, engagement and in-app purchases. They are displayed on the Google Play Store, Google Search, YouTube and other Google properties.
Not every campaign hits the mark first time round – everything’s a learning curve, right? That doesn’t mean you can’t try again.
Any retargeting campaign will use these pay per click ads, focusing on users who have already visited a business’s site or engaged with their content while actively searching.
They remind visitors of products or services, and can be found on websites, the Google Display Network and social media sites such as YouTube.
How does PPC advertising benefit a business?
As you can imagine, there are lots of advantages from using paid advertising, so let’s take a closer look.
Boost visibility and brand awareness
PPC marketing makes businesses more visible during search queries. Putting your head above the online parapet will help in boosting brand awareness among your potential customers.
PPC advertising supports a brand’s marketing efforts by enabling firms to tailor different ads to specific audiences using targeted keywords for search engines, based on criteria including search terms, location and even device.
Measurable PPC campaign results
Paid advertising helps businesses track the performance of their advertising efforts or search and social media ads strategy in real-time.
Tools like Google Analytics show how many clicks, impressions and conversions a paid ad campaign has generated, as well as the cost per click (CPC) and return on investment (ROI).
Flexibility and control
One of the biggest benefits of PPC campaigns is the financial flexibility it offers, as well as the high levels of control when it comes to ad placement.
Businesses can set their own advertising budget, adjust their bid and target specific audiences to maximise value from their PPC strategies. Even if you don’t have a lot to invest, you can still make it go a long way.
Companies can also test different PPC ad copy and landing pages to identify which ones generate the best results. Testing could potentially boost both your clickthrough rate and conversion rate.
How much will this all cost me?
Many businesses want to invest in paid search ads but don’t have vast marketing budgets. That’s ok by the way. It’s also why one of the biggest benefits of using PPC ad campaigns is its cost-effectiveness.
Advertisers pay only when someone clicks on their targeted ad, so resources aren’t wasted trying to engage people who aren’t interested.
Paid search can generate really fast results, compared to the slower ROI of organic search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media.
Using all three is a smart move, but PPC means businesses can be proactive, and immediately start generating traffic and leads to their website.
PPC ad campaigns can be hugely powerful for raising your profile in search engine results and helping your brand grow. However, it’s important to understand that PPC can be incredibly expensive and can be very time-consuming. Unless you have someone like us doing it for you.
That’s because the ad copy in each PPC campaign is built around keywords, so the most successful Google Ads advertisers are continuously researching, refining and growing their keyword lists. Let’s take a deeper dive into this incredibly important element of paid search.
Keyword strategies in PPC campaigns
Keyword strategies are a crucial component in PPC advertising and mainly fall into two main categories.
Exact match keywords
These keywords are very specific and target a highly relevant audience. An exact match keyword will only trigger your ad to appear when someone searches for that particular word or phrase. Red stilettos, size six, for example.
It’s worth remembering that while exact match keywords may drive less traffic to your site, they often have a higher click-through rate and generate more conversions. Swings and roundabouts.
Broad match keywords
As the name suggests, these are less specific, enabling PPC ads to be shown to a wider audience. A firm selling hiking boots could include a broad match keyword or phrase like ‘high-heeled shoes’ to trigger an ad to appear in search results.
Broad match keywords work in the opposite way to exact match. They help your business by driving more traffic to your site, but here’s the meh: they have a lower click-through rate and can be less effective in generating conversions.
Negative keywords in search ads
These should be an important part of PPC advertising keyword strategy, and comprise words or phrases that you don’t want your ad to appear for in search results. It might sound odd to newcomers, but bear with us.
For example, ad copy for a high-end shoe brand could add negative keywords like ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’ to ensure their ads are only shown to people searching for high-quality products.
All of this demonstrates the importance of keyword research to a successful PPC advertising strategy. Knowing and using keywords that your target audience is likely to search for will ensure your PPC campaign will generate the most traffic and conversions.
The costs of a PPC campaign
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, and fellow alumni of our Future CEO, said he loved the noise deadlines made as they whooshed past, but there’s nothing funny about a brand’s finances. A well-planned PPC campaign will always take into consideration budget restrictions when setting advertising goals.
According to Adriel, the average CPC across all industries in 2023 is £2.36, a 2% increase on Q3 2022, but cost of PPC campaigns can vary significantly, depending on factors including keyword competition and ad positioning.
The quality of your campaigns can also affect the cost of PPC ads. Search giant Google assigns a score to PPC campaigns which is a bit like a beauty contest, except it’s based on criteria including relevance, landing page quality and click-through rate (CTR), rather than how good your site looks in a bikini.
PPC campaigns with high-quality scores can see lower CPCs and better ad positioning in SERPs.
Measuring PPC ad spend success
When it comes to measuring the success of a PPC campaign, the conversion rate is one of the most important metrics.
A conversion is defined as a user carrying out an action after seeing an ad, whether that’s making a purchase, filling out a form or subscribing to a newsletter.
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who convert out of the total number of clicks on pay per click advertising. Simples.
Those rates can vary widely depending on industry, target audience and campaign goals. For example, the average conversion rate for e-commerce businesses is around 2.63%, slightly lower for B2B at 2.23%, while in the finance industry, it can reach as high as 9.6%.
It’s also important to consider conversion rates alongside other metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), cost per acquisition (CPA), and return on investment (ROI) to have a complete understanding of how well each PPC campaign has performed.
To improve conversion rates and help your business, it’s important to create relevant and compelling landing pages and PPC ads that target your ideal customer with relevant exact and broad keywords.
As we mentioned previously, you should also use data and analytics to regularly test, refine and optimise your campaigns so you can really maximise the benefits of PPC tools.
Businesses looking to advertise their products and services should include social media, SEO, and PPC in a comprehensive marketing strategy. One size does not fit all nowadays. By understanding the differences between these tools and their respective strengths, the right mix can help companies achieve ALL their marketing and advertising goals.
The sales funnel and Google Ads
Chances are you’ve heard of the sales funnel, but just in case you’re new to the business world and are looking at getting the most out of your next PPC campaign, allow us to explain.
It’s got nothing to do with kitchen equipment. Instead, it describes the three stages a customer goes through before making a purchase, and technology from Google has a big role to play in moving your audience from the top to the bottom.
The awareness stage
This is the point at which customers become aware of a problem they need to solve or a need they have. They may not even be aware of your brand, product or service.
Google Ads can create awareness by targeting relevant keywords and placing your ads in front of the noses of potential customers seeking solutions to their problems.
The consideration stage
Here, customers are researching solutions to their problem or need and are comparing different options to evaluate which one best suits them.
More keywords goodness: this time related to specific products or services to drive traffic to your landing pages packed with info and inspo.
The decision stage
Hurray 🙂 Customers have found the best solution for their problem and are ready to make a purchase from your site.
It’s at this point that conversions are most likely to occur, and Google Ads can be a powerful tool for ensuring they happen.
As well as playing a part in ushering customers into and through the sales funnel, Google Ads can also be used for retargeting campaigns to identify a relevant ad group, increasing the chances of former visitors making a purchase.
Before you go, let’s talk about Bing and PPC ads
When it comes to PPC platforms, Google Ads is the big kid in the playground of the PPC advertising market, but it’s not the only one.
Microsoft’s search engine Bing offers businesses an alternative platform to showcase their products and services through PPC advertising on Bing Ads. Here are some of the benefits:
Bing often has a lower CPC compared to Google Ads and offers competitive bidding options, which means businesses using it for PPC ads could get increased clicks and conversions for their marketing budget. Who doesn’t love less buck, more bang?
Bing’s lower profile means there’s not as much competition compared to Google Ads. Brands could secure higher positions for their PPC ads and bring in those lovely clicks and conversions.
Just like Google, Bing offers demographic targeting options so you can home in on specific age groups, genders, and household incomes.
This can be particularly useful in PPC campaigns for businesses selling products or services that appeal to a specific audience.
Integration with Microsoft products
It’s a no-brainer that Bing integrates with various Microsoft products, such as Windows, Office, and (hello TikTokers) Xbox.
Fans and users could be more inclined to use Bing as their default search engine, increasing the visibility of Bing Ads.
Of course businesses looking to maximise their ad spend can also manage their PPC campaigns and track results through Microsoft Advertising integrated analytics technology.
Alternative ways to search
Bing is a leader in voice search technology, powering the voice search functionality for both Siri and Amazon’s Alexa (also known as the other women in your other half’s life).
Niftily, it also offers a visual search feature enabling users to search for images and products without using text search ads.
If you’re a business selling visually appealing products, such as fashion or home decor, these paid ads can be a winner.
How we can help with your PPC strategy
Advertising your business can feel a bit like walking through a minefield. There’s so much to navigate, from understanding your keyword strategy and how it affects search engine marketing, to choosing the right ad group and the difference between social and shopping ads.
It’s a huge amount to take in, especially if you’ve got your hands full running your business. We know that a solid PPC strategy can give you complete control of your marketing strategy, from the budget and targeting to ad placements.
Our team of experts can give you hands-on help with your PPC management, identify ad groups and the best ad networks for your business. We’ll create a comprehensive marketing strategy, from paid social ads to analysing analytics, and one that will deliver results.
Want to chat about paid advertising campaigns or find out more about what a PPC agency does? We’re all ears. You can drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill in this contact form and we’ll will get back to you straight away so we can start adding more digits to your bottom line.