When people realize they want or need something, they instinctively turn to their search engine of choice, and for 1.2 billion people, that search engine is Google.1 We are all familiar with the general process of using a search engine – After you type something into the search bar, it responds with a list of web pages (called the SERP, or Search Engine Results Page) that are relevant to your query. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to the ads that appear above the organic search engine results; also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads, because of the unique pricing structure which only counts towards the advertising budget when someone clicks on their ad.
What are the benefits of PPC?
- Advertise directly to people who are already searching for your products – One of the most unique things about PPC is that at the very moment a consumer is served your ad, they were actively searching for a product like yours – Talk about right place at the right time! Supplying searchers with relevant content in the exact moment that they need it encourages click-throughs and raises the potential for a sale or conversion. In fact, PPC campaigns have shown an ROI up to five times greater than other online advertising channels.2 Advanced targeting options give advertisers the choice to target as broad or as niche of a market as they would like. For example, coffee shop owners have the ability to only serve ads in the morning when audience members are more likely to stop in. They could even target a local audience by setting a mile radius from their location.
- Drive Immediate Results – Increasing your visibility on search engines can be done a few different ways; through SEM, as we have already discussed, or through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO will help boost your rank in organic search results, but even for the best marketer, it can take months to get results. PPC ads get your business on the first page of Google, and fast. Organic positions are limited, but search ads can get you in front of a highly targeted audience in a matter of hours. However, as soon as you stop your SEM campaign, your ads will stop showing up which is why both SEO and PPC are important for businesses building a strong online presence.
- Maximize Your Ad Spend through the PPC Model – As indicated by the name, it only counts towards your budget when your advertisement gets clicked. This is very different from Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM) pricing which charges advertisers for every 1,000 impressions, regardless if they were clicked or not. This pricing structure is what makes PPC the most reliable ROI for online advertising, and perfect for small to medium sized businesses.
- Flexible Budgeting– PPC campaigns offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to setting a budget. If you’re seeing good results, your product/service is in season, or you want to run a larger scale sale or promotion and want to scale up your efforts, all you have to do is increase your budget or add additional keywords to increase the number of times your ad is seen (reach), and therefore increase your campaign’s performance.
- Receive a wealth of marketing data – PPC campaigns provide advertisers with a wealth of data and the information ties directly into your Google Analytics, so it’s easy to learn about those who click on your ad. At Amplified, we consider PPC as a cornerstone to a successful marketing strategy because this data helps plan and inform all other marketing tactics. You can find out where people who have clicked are located, how much time they spent on your site, what pages they visited, and the type of device they were using. SEM can tie in with your website and help you discover the most popular keywords which can then be implemented in your SEO strategy.
How does it Work?
A typical PPC campaign begins by setting your goals for the campaign. Every business needs something slightly different, so it is incredibly important to identify the specifics of what you’re looking to achieve before beginning, to ensure you have all the necessary pieces in place. Ultimately, these campaign goals should be taken a step further than just “drive traffic to my website”. Any PPC campaign can do that – but what happens next? Think through what you want the visitor to actually DO on your site once they click your ad. Do you want them to make a purchase, view sale information, fill out a form to request more information, or call your business? If the answer is yes to any of those, you’ll need to have the pages and necessary tracking functionality in place before you begin setting up the campaign.
Next, define the keywords you’d like your business’ ad to appear when a user searches. These should be the most important words that are relevant to your goals. For example, if you own a flower shop in Wichita, Kansas and are running an optimized SEM campaign, you may include keywords like, “Flower Shop Wichita Kansas”, “Florist Wichita KS”, “Wichita Flower Delivery”, or “Funeral Flowers Wichita KS”. If you are the same flower shop and want to run a promotion for Homecoming, you might use more specific words like “Homecoming boutonnieres in Wichita KS” or “Homecoming corsages Wichita KS”. Note that your geography can play an important role here as well. If you are running your campaign within a 5-10 mile radius of your flower shop, your ads will show to those who search those terms without the geography – however, if you include a geography in your keywords, your ads could show up to anyone who searches those words including the area, without the geographical restrictions on where specifically they are searching from.
Lastly, set your campaign budget. If you’re working with AdWords directly, they’ll want a daily budget, which is found by taking your total monthly budget, divided by the number of days your campaign will run. Overall, you should start with the monthly budget, and work backwards so as not to spend more than you had planned. Google AdWords will also want you to set a maximum bid, which will determine the maximum amount the system is allowed to spend for one click on one keyword. Since each keyword set has a different CPC, this number is going to likely determine which keywords can actually show in your campaign, and how fast your daily budget gets used. If set too high, your campaign may stop showing early in the day because it spent the entire budget on a few clicks early on.
Now you’re ready to create your ads! Make sure the copy for each ad you create is clear, drives action, has a specific goal, and is attached to only the keywords that make the most sense for someone who searched that term. Don’t forget that the ads must link to a location of your site that contains relevant information for both the ad and the list of keywords it is associated with, otherwise the ad may not show when those keywords are searched due to a low keyword relevancy score or low ad quality score.
You’ll need to monitor the campaign throughout the month to ensure your ads are delivering throughout the day, budgets are not too high or too low, and that your keyword strategy chosen is effective and generating the response you had originally planned in your campaign goals.
SEM is a very effective strategy because it gives you the opportunity to reach a consumer at the very moment they are searching for a product like yours, but developing and maintaining a PPC campaign requires a lot of time and expertise. There’s a long list of things that go into starting a PPC campaign, including keyword research and evaluation, accurate targeting criteria, a clear and concise ad copy, as well as ongoing budget and keyword optimization. If you’re busy running a business, there’s not enough time in the day! Amplified Digital is a full service digital marketing agency, and the perfect option for hard-working business owners. As Google Premier Partners, our dedicated and experienced team evaluate keywords based on their relevance, competition and budget in order to ensure that your ad appears only in the most relevant searches, at the most affordable bid costs. Contact us today to get started!
- Smart Insights. Search Engine Statistics 2017. Written by Robert Allen.
- DFM. 5 Reasons why you need to use PPC in 2017. Written by Adrian Holtshousen.