SHOULD MY BUSINESS MAKE THE JUMP INTO PAY-PER-CLICK / PAID SEARCH MARKETING?
At some point, every business needs to step back and evaluate how they are going to get to the next step on the ladder of success. With the rise of the internet in the last twenty plus years, online marketing has become a critical component of most business’s day-to-day operations. If you’re not there yet, you should be. It’s never too late to ask, “Is my business ready for paid online marketing?”
This is often a question that gets asked by small to medium-sized businesses that want to venture into pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, but don’t know what to expect or where to start. My purpose for writing this blog is to lay out enough information about the ins-and-outs of PPC marketing. My goal is to provide you with the information necessary, so you can make an educated decision about online marketing, or provide you with enough information to inspire you to start asking the right questions.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT WHEN YOU DIP YOUR TOES IN THE ONLINE POOL.
Beginning with PPC marketing can seem quite intimidating at first, but once you’re acclimated, the process becomes much easier…
PPC be quite exciting as it allows you to bypass components of conventional marketing. SEO (Search Engine Optimization), for example, can take days, weeks, and often months or more to see a ROI (Return Of Investment). SEO is a long-term strategy that any serious business would be foolish to ignore. Be aware however, you are very rarely going to get results “today”. Consider SEO more like a snowball that takes a little time to gather momentum. Onnce SEO picks up, it can quickly turn into a monster that can almost carry its own weight simply by chugging along.
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On the other hand, PPC marketing can get you were you want to be today, not tomorrow. The catch is you are going to pay for it immediately. Of course, you pay for other types of marketing as well, you just don’t notice it as much because it’s a more long-term game where you’re making an investment. Pay-per-click is a little riskier in the sense that you put in money regularly; but if done properly, you’ll also receive the benefits in proportion to how much you invest in your campaign. This important detail is not brought up to “scare you away” – rather, I offer this as a direct explanation of how PPC works.
AM I PREPARED?
One of the first questions you will have to have ask yourself is, “Where am I as a business?” Are you humming along nicely and looking to take your business to the next level, or are you scraping by and are of the mindset that a quick boost might be all you need? If it’s the latter, I ask you to reconsider paid search marketing. I’ve seen too many businesses launch pay-per-click marketing campaigns when they simply were not ready for it. Another question to ask yourself is, “Do I have the time for another avenue of marketing?” Most businesses that are concerned about becoming overwhelmed with the creation and maintenance of a PPC campaign hire a company to do most of the heavy lifting.
Either way, you should be prepared to have a few extra “projects” thrown your way. You won’t be in this alone, but depending on what avenues of marketing you take, there may be a few pieces that need to be put together in order to ensure a successful campaign.
WHERE TO LOOK?
Where to look is as easy as asking around in the business community, if they are involved with online marketing, and if so, who are they using? Get a recommendation from someone you trust. Ask what their ROI and increase in conversions have been. Are their PPC coordinators knowledgeable and able to answer questions?
If you’re uncertain who to ask or where to look, look for an established internet and social media firm that has a proven track record for success. Ask the potential managers of your PPC account how they will setup and manage your account. Another question most don’t think to ask is whether the person(s) working on your account is certified by Google and/or Bing?
WHAT TYPE OF ONLINE MARKETING IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Once you’ve decided to push forward, you’re going to have to decide which types of marketing are right for your business. These can range from social media marketing platforms such as Facebook or Instagram or search engine marketing like Google and Bing. Online marketing platforms can also include YouTube, Gmail, and additional re-marketing platforms such as AdRoll.
In addition to the aforementioned, you may need to look further and find third-party alternatives. I’ll breakdown some of the types mentioned above and give you a brief explanation of them, as well as when and why they are typically used.
Facebook has two types of marketing businesses use:
- Social Media Posting – Typically used for branding and creating a strong relationship with clients as well as potential clients. The messages pushed in the posts often leads viewers of the ads to “like” or engage with your post and again, in the future. This type of marketing works well with post-engagement marketing which if done correctly, will expand your market by having the current viewers interact and engage with the post by commenting on or sharing what has been already served to them on their social media feed. This in turn is what spreads your messaging and in a best-case scenario, causes your business’s post to go viral.
- Ads – Used in many ways including CRM email list (InMarket Leads being the hot topic right now.) These are gathered from existing email lists and then re-marketed to a person when their email matches one on the list.
By creating and using like audiences, Facebook can intelligently take the criteria of who you are currently advertising to and go out and find people who share similar behaviors, interests, or demographic qualifiers with in order to advertise to as well. This is a very powerful tool that can be set-up to create audiences in many ways, including anything from pay range to physical location or likes.
Once you have decided on who your audience is going to be, you have a range of options of what types of ads to serve to them. These can range for one image advertisements, to sets of images that will rotate in and out, and all the way up to full carousel ads that will display up to five images and / or videos as well as your copy all in one neat little space.
AdWords Search Campaigns are considered the standard when it comes to online paid advertising. AdWords is by far the biggest and most widely used (I believe it’s close to 2.5 million searches per minute) with Facebook Ads catching up quickly. AdWords can be anything from going to Google, doing a search and seeing the paid advertising that now comes up above the organic site listings, to re-marketing to someone who has already visited your site and made a purchase. With these features, you can see how paid search would be powerful. Having your ad show above what ranks organically can be a real game-changer when need to be seen by potential clients. This also goes back to what I mentioned earlier about how paid advertising is almost immediate compared to other forms of online business presence.
When you combine showing in a high position both organically and paid, you can imagine the effects that has on the person doing the search. Doing so not only dominates the page visually, it also can relay a feeling of authority of your space in the industry. Not to mention that while it’s not directly stated as such, I think Google appreciates and weighs your ads accordingly when it can relate them to the same webpage that it has deemed worthy of a high organic ranking.
Competitor campaigns are one of the many types of campaigns that can be run inside an AdWords account. They are often misunderstood; and therefore, wrongly considered immoral. I would explain one this way, if you were selling a soda that would directly compete with Coca-Cola, wouldn’t you like to have your ad come up when someone is doing a search on Coca-Cola? You’re not saying you “are” Coca-Cola; but saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I see you’re looking for a carbonated soda beverage…did you know we are here too? Come check us out!”
Branding campaigns are a campaign type that is often misunderstood, especially by companies that have already established a solid organic search presence on Google. A question I hear a lot is, “Why would I want to do a branding campaign when I’m already on the top of the organics?” To which I would say, “Why would you not want to? Not only would it give you another way to dominate the space on the top of the page, but branding will give you more ability to refine your message in a small space. Using ad extensions, you can have everything from your phone number, to specific links, to different parts of your site, and even a sale you might be having for the day – all right there at the end user’s fingertips. If you’re a business that depends on the end user knowing your physical location, we’ll throw that in there as well.”
YouTube campaigns. I’m not sure I really need to explain YouTube, but here it goes anyways. We have all seen ads that play not only before, but in the middle of your favorite chicken in pants video. Are they annoying? Sometimes. If done well and with the right placements, they can be quite powerful.
Google Shopping (Merchant Center). You’re looking to bring people to your webpage to shop at your online store. A properly done text ad is often enough to bring them in, but what if you can show an image of your item beforehand? Not only does it add extra appeal when seeing your item before visiting your site, it also can qualify them as a higher quality traffic because they are half-sold before they even click your ad. With Merchant Center, you’ll also find that you can place ads several times per page on Google. This means not only are you going to put one product in front of them, but several! To properly run a shopping campaign, you’re going to want to have an e-commerce solution integrated into your site. A few platforms worth looking into would be: BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. E-commerce platforms are not a “one size fits all” type of platform, so I would recommend doing a little research beforehand to match up a platform to your business needs.
AdWords Re-Marketing is another type of campaign that I love to run as it not only gives the end-user a second chance to consider purchasing from you, it can also give an already qualified buyer that push to maybe come back and make a second purchase. Re-marketing is accomplished by serving a site visitor a cookie (a small script file that holds information about your browsing sessions such as pages visited or names and passwords) that will stay on their machine for a set time (usually 30 days or more). With the cookie attached to the end-user’s computer, AdWords knows when and where it can show them an ad when visiting other sites in its affiliate network. I’m sure you’ve experienced re-marketing campaigns at work many times yourself and wondered how it was done. It’s often when you’ve visited a site and viewed a certain item; for example, visiting Amazon and looking at a new lamp. Once you’ve left Amazon and went to another site, you’re greeted with an ad showcasing the same lamp you’d been considering on Amazon. That’s the power of re-marketing ads. Another benefit of re-marketing campaigns is that you can set them up to re-market in several different ways.
A few options of those who can be effectively re-marketed to include end-users who have:
- Visited a certain page on your site
- Purchased something from your site
- Didn’t purchase something from your site
Remember, these are only some of the people you can target in your campaigns. Couple these groups with very specific ads that speak directly to their actions and you’ve got yourself something very powerful.
Display Campaigns are like re-marketing campaigns, but are not always image ads. They can also be in the format of text ads, video ads, and more. Display ads have a few options for where and how they run, but a common standard used is when the display keywords match up with the site content of an affiliate on the Google Display Network (GDN)
TO BING OR NOT TO BING?
I could write a whole section here about Bing, but most of it would parallel with what I’ve written about AdWords, so I’ll just skip most of that and tell you how it’s different. While Bing doesn’t carry nearly the number of searches that its closest competitor, AdWords does, that doesn’t mean it’s not something worth considering. Bing has many things going for it that in some instances puts it above AdWords – including a general higher click through rate and lower CPC’s. While it can take more clicks to convert in Bing, the fact that the clicks come cheaper means that you’ll more than likely pay less for the same conversion you would get in AdWords. Unless someone is just killing it in AdWords and decides they don’t need to look further, I’ll often suggest that they at least try a small Bing campaign to test the waters there. While it’s less often than not that Bing can carry a business’s online marketing (if it’s a serious endeavor that is), I have seen the rare case where Bing would be extremely successful where I felt the same clients AdWords was under performing where I thought it should be . All that can really be said here is that, Bing is not AdWords and probably never will be; but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering
AdRoll is a re-marketing / display (prospecting) engine that is my personal platform of choice for many of my clients. For me, one of the biggest advantages is that it’s not near as finicky when it comes to “sensitive” materials. Where AdWords is very selective about anything that contains topics and ads based around things like religion, abuse, or supplements; AdRoll is a bit more relaxed in those areas, and therefore, much easier to use if your business is centered or touches on sensitive topics. It’s also very robust in that you can use this one platform to integrate with things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Google itself.
WHY SHOULD I PAY FOR PAID SEARCH MARKETING?
Over the last decade, pay-per-click marketing has exploded, and stands tall as one of the premiere types of marketing today. If you have the time and money to jump into paid search, I’d have to ask why you wouldn’t. As with any type of marketing, paid search has got its ups and downs; but if done correctly and with the right approach, it’s an amazing place to be and the best platform for getting your message to a wide audience in our ever-connected, digital world.
IS IT REALLY EXPENSIVE?
I won’t lie to you here and say that paid search marketing can’t get expensive. What I can tell you is that if done correctly, you’ll be making more money than you are spending. One caveat here is that while results can come immediately, or in a much shorter time than something like SEO, at the very least, paid search marketing can take some time to refine and hone in on what is going to work for you. Often times when people read or hear about pay-per-click marketing, they readily assume that because they’ve heard, “you can get almost immediate results”. They then mistakenly equate “results” to instant success and riches. Truth be told while you can see what’s working and not working within days of posting a campaign, you probably won’t truly have a handle on it for at least a good 30 to 60 days. This happens because unless you’re jumping in with both feet and testing the waters with all that pay-per-click has to offer, you are probably going to go through a couple of the different avenues of this type of marketing before you decide on what’s best for you.
HOW DO I PROPERLY MEASURE MY SUCCESS?
Hopefully, as a business, you’ve got a good handle on what it is going to take to make you successful and what isn’t going to work. If you don’t, you should probably figure that out beforehand so that when the time comes, you’ll better understand what the ups and downs of any type of marketing means to you and your business. With that said, when you are seeking out someone to either assist you or run your pay-per-click marketing, discuss with them the different types of indicators they use as well as any that you would want to have put in place. While there are many indicators built into the tool sets of any good marketer, and this is often enough, talk to them and let them know how and what needs to take place for you to feel successful. Often, this will be a great lead in to understand expectations and to even set some yourself.
OK, I’m sold. Now what?
If you’ve come around to the fact that online marketing is a powerful force for most businesses in 2018, and you’re ready to jump in yourself, I feel like it would be only fair to say this: Marketing can only get the potential customers / leads to your site. This is where I had mentioned earlier that there might be a little work involved for you as well (or your web developer at least). It’s important for any website to have a good user experience; but when you’re actively bringing visitors to your site to complete a certain pre-determined action, you’re going to want to make sure that goes as smoothly as possible. This is as good of a time as any to dot our i’s and cross our t’s.
It’s time for a site Audit.
Now you have your pay-per-click campaign built out, or have decided which direction you’re going in at least. You’re going to want to go through your site and look at your site pages through the eyes of potential site visitors. Look for any potential snags that might cause them to think twice or simply get their mind on something else; and therefore, not on your intended goal. Some of the questions you’re going to want to ask yourself are things like:
- Is my menu structure consistent across my site with very clear direction on where each menu item leads? Sometimes getting to cute here can actually hurt your chance of success more than you would imagine.
- Are my telephone numbers clickable? This is very handy for someone who might be looking at your site on a mobile browser.
- Do I have a form or another easy way for a person visiting my site to reach me? If you are hiding your forms layers deep in your site, there’s a good chance that they won’t be used.
- Is my main focus on the actionable items on the page that I’m wanting the end-user to interact with?
- Is my page focused enough that I’m not going to lose them to something else that while is interesting, is not the reason I brought them in from the ad? Another way to look at this is to ask yourself if someone who typed in a keyword for search would remember what they searched on when reading your page. If the answer is no, you’re landing them on the wrong page.
- Does my site respond well in both load time and layout across all the different platforms and browsers?
- Are there any issues with any scripts, pop ups, or plug ins across the different platforms and browsers?
If you’ve recognized your site has some or many of the items listed above, have you considered sending your visitors to a very specific landing page that was made to showcase your campaigns intent? This is often a very good way of defining your message and increasing your chance for a conversion as you can specifically design the page around one goal. Whether that be a form fill out, a download, or a phone call; giving your audience only one choice often leads to a better conversion rate.
Finally, since it’s been brought up, let’s talk about what a conversion is. A conversion can be many things depending on what your intent is. As I said, it can be anything from purchasing something from your site, to filling out a form, or giving you basic contact information. This is something that will be set up and tracked by your pay-per-click specialist. This is a very good indicator of how your campaigns are performing and will not only be helpful for you to be able to measure your success, but will be used by the person managing your campaigns to do things like adjust bids or create whole new ad groups.