What is PPC?
PPC stands for ‘Pay-Per-Click’. What it means is that you put an ad online and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. So if the ad doesn’t work, it costs you nothing.
When non-marketing people say PPC, they often mean Google Adwords (the paid ads which appear when you search on Google). But other internet giants like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter also offer PPC advertising.
Why is PPC so hard?
It sounds like every marketer’s dream. You don’t have to pay to advertise unless it works. But it’s not quite that simple. (Nothing ever is!)
- Just because someone’s clicked on your ad doesn’t mean you get revenue. It means they click through to wherever you choose to send them. (Your ‘landing page’ – the first place they land.) If you want your PPC marketing to work, you still need to get them to convert. You need contact details, or an actual enquiry, or even an online purchase.
- You need to make sure the right people see your ad. And that can be complicated. There are all sorts of selection criteria, depending on which network you are using. Location. Demographics. The search terms they type into Google. The LinkedIn groups they belong to. The people they’re connected to on Facebook. Whether they’ve been to your site before. What technology or device they’re using to browse at the moment…
- You need to make sure as few as possible of the wrong people see your ad. That can be even more complicated!
For example, our client Xpadite offer ‘print management services’. That’s for your external printing needs. Brochures, newsletters, direct mail, point-of-sale, signage, business cards and so on. But they don’t offer ‘managed print services’. That’s what you need to control your internal printing – like who gets to use which printer, what code they have to plug into the photocopier to get colour copies and so on. Now, what terms should
- You need to make your ad as enticing as possible so that people actually click on it.
A Practical Approach to PPC
- Consider which networks are likely to work for you.
As a rule of thumb:
- Google Adwords is great if you are offering a service people might be searching for. Accounting. Software implementation. Hairdressing. But if your potential customers are not actively looking for what you offer, it may not help. They won’t be searching for it in Google.
- LinkedIn is generally better for B2B services. People on LinkedIn are in business mode.
- Facebook, on the other hand, is generally more B2C. Although there are some interesting stories about good B2B results from Facebook, so this may be changing.
- Twitter works for both B2B and B2C.
2. Implement PPC one network at a time.
You will not get everything right first time. You will need to review, report and refine. That takes time and effort. And since each network is different, you’ll find it much easier if you roll them out one by one.
3. Be as specific as you can about your target market.
Consider all the selection criteria on offer. Be fussy. If you get no results, you can always relax the criteria later. But if you start off with loose criteria, you can lose a fortune attracting the wrong people!
4. Set clear goals for lead conversion, not just traffic.
5. Set a small budget to begin with while you learn what you’re doing.
6. Monitor results closely.
When you know what is working and what isn’t, you can change things to get a better result.
Your selection criteria. Your ads. (Wherever possible, run two or more ads so you can see which performs better). Your landing pages.
7. Don’t change everything at once, or you won’t know what made the difference.
8. Don’t change things too often, or too quickly.
The great thing about PPC is you get lots of hard data. But before you draw conclusions and take action, make sure your data is statistically significant!
9. Take advice from your ad network with a pinch of salt.
They want to make more money. So they want you to get more clicks.
You want to make more money. So you want to get more relevant, quality clicks.
Those two might sound the same, but they’re not. Let’s take an Adwords example, for a real client, Xpadite.
Xpadite offer print management services. What that means is they’ll look after all your external printing – from corporate brochures to direct mail to packaging to point of sale. There are also many companies out there who offer services (often software programs) to help you manage your internal print. All the pages which your staff print on your printers and copiers. It’s a totally different service, for a totally different need.
So when we set up the Xpadite keywords for their print management services, of course we included ‘print management’. But we found a lot of traffic came from people searching for ‘print management software’. They weren’t the right target market. The clicks weren’t relevant. They weren’t quality. And Xpadite were paying for those clicks! So Google were happy, but Xpadite weren’t.
The Commonest PPC Ad Networks
Google Adwords has the lion’s share of the PPC market. It’s been around the longest, and it dominates search. It’s usually the first place to start.
Google has three different advertising offerings.
Google Search Network
This is the one we all think of. It’s the ads which show up when you search on Google, or on a Google search partner, for a specific term. (A Google search partner is another search engine which is powered by Google – ie Google do the work, but they use their brand.)
Google Display Network
These are the ads ‘powered by Google’ which appear on all sorts of sites around the web. Webmasters allow these ads as a way to get money. (For them, the service is branded Adsense.) Maybe you pay Google $1.oo for a click, and Google pays the site owner a percentage of that.
The Display Network also includes ads on mobile devices, which can mean ads inside mobile games.
Since people are not actively looking to buy, but are browsing the web, clickthrough rates are low. And the Display Network is huge, so it’s really important to target very selectively!
Remarketing is a way to use the Display Network more effectively. Basically, Google tracks people who have visited your site and shows your ads to them and only them.
This is what leads to ads for a brand ‘following you around’ the internet.
Resources for PPC Marketing on Google:
There’s heaps of information on all aspects of Adwords at:
Once you have your head round the basics of Adwords, you might be interested in one or both of these two approaches to organising your account:
On the other hand, Chris from Tenscores believes ‘There’s a reason Google didn’t call ad groups keyword groups’ – he builds his adgroups around ads rather than keywords. You’ll have to download his e-book (free) to find out. You should also check out his awesome infographic all about Quality Score – including a flow chart on how to improve your own scores.
Ideal for B2B.
Since LinkedIn consists of business profiles, it’s possible to target by industry, geography and job title. You can also do nifty things like target members of a particular group.
Resources for PPC Marketing on LinkedIn
Start off here: https://www.linkedin.com/ad/start
There’s also some good practical advice here once you’ve been running a while.
Facebook is also full of profiles – but these are personal, not business. So it’s ideal for B2C marketing. You can target on age, gender and location, of course. But you can also choose interests – either as categories or as keywords. And like Google remarketing, you can target campaigns only to those with some kind of connection to you. Maybe they’ve used your app, or you have their email address, or they’ve liked your Facebook page.
(And now you know why Facebook keep encouraging you to complete your profile – the more they know about you, the better targeting they can provide for advertisers!)
Resources for PPC Marketing on Facebook
To start advertising on Facebook go here: https://en-gb.facebook.com/business/products/ads
You can also find out more about ad targeting on Facebook here.
Need additional resources? Why would I go to the effort of collecting lots of Facebook resources when those wonderful people at Kissmetrics have done it already?
Ah, Twitter. The social network so many people just ‘don’t get’. It’s both B2B and B2C. It’s about sharing snippets of information.
You can spend a lot of time and effort tweeting, but your tweets disappear down the newsfeed rapidly. Paid Twitter advertising addresses this problem.
Targeting is based on location, gender and keywords. You can also target followers of particular accounts, so if you know who’s influential in your space, this is one option. And you can target those you have a connection with too – those who’ve visited your website, or used your app, or whose email you know.
Another interesting thing about Twitter is that they’re not strictly PPC – pay-per-click. They also offer a pay-per-lead option – so you don’t pay unless people complete a form you specify. Of course you have to create the form and the reason for them to complete it, but if you do have a specific offer, this option is worth considering.
Resources for PPC Marketing on Twitter
Start your campaigns here: https://business.twitter.com/solutions
If you need additional resources, PPCHero have a whole section dedicated to Twitter.