Note: This is one of three articles in a series of guides for content specialists on how to optimize your digital advertisements.
Welcome back to our blog posts breaking down digital marketing. Chances are you’ve already read What is S(earch) E(ngine) O(ptimization) and you’re ready to dive into Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing. This may or may not be a natural progression for you, but chances are PPC is the first forte you or your business will have into paid advertising, so this is important. I won’t go too deep into the origins of PPC, SEMGeeks has a really great write up on that. But if you’re ready for business talk then once again, saddle up cowboy, we’re getting right into it.
Let’s get real basic first. In theory, PPC is simple, but don’t confuse it for being easy. The first thing you should know is that PPC is a form of investing. As with any investment, if the probability of favorable ROI isn’t likely, then don’t waste your time even considering it. How is PPC a form of investing, you ask? Great question. Essentially, PPC is putting your money into an ad that will be targeted towards a specific demographic. You pay for each time your ad is clicked on, and you hope that you can convert that click into a profitable sale. The bottom line is your revenue is directly tied to how well you know your market. When managed wisely, PPC (and really any search engine ad campaign) has the chance of being highly profitable. Managed incorrectly, it’s possible that you’re throwing money to the wind. Queue the tumbleweeds.
WHAT MAKES A PROFITABLE PPC CAMPAIGN?
That’s really the big question, isn’t it? Successful PPC campaigns begin on a foundation of informed insights. I know that it can often feel like you just want to get into it – after all your marketing budget is doing nothing sitting in your bank account! But trust me when I say it’s critical to not jump the gun with this. Let’s talk about a few steps that you should take before you even consider PPC.
HE SHOOTS… GOALLLLLL!
But really, what are your goals? If you don’t have a measure of success, then how will you know if your campaign has been successful? Things to focus on include increasing your awareness, increasing your engagement, it could be building up your brand, or it could be just as simple as increasing your leads. Whatever your goals, it’s critical that you define your agenda before beginning, otherwise you’re shooting in the dark.
But it’s not always so clear cut. Without conducting a proper SWOT or doing market research, sometimes it’s hard to say that something like increasing your engagement by 14% by the end of your fiscal year is the right goal. Like who knows, right? Here’s my advice: rely on your marketing team (whether that’s internal or a firm). And I know that’s classic coming from a guy writing a blog post from inside a digital marketing firm, but hear me out. This is literally our jobs! Let us help you define an achievable measure of success, and build on it going forward.
STICK THE LANDING
The next consideration you should be thinking about is this: are your landing pages ready? PPC is called pay per click because every time someone clicks, your ad will direct them to a page that you’ve prepared. Hopefully, the page is compelling enough to convert that clicker from someone who’s thinking about buying, into a real-life customer.
In digital marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page that’s created specifically for the purpose of completing an advertising campaign. Landing pages are designed with single focused objectives that are known as call-to-actions (CTAs). Ok great, but what’s the difference between a landing page and any other web page on your website?
In a perfect world, conversions would be like leading a horse to water — and I suppose making them drink as well. But in real life, you have to guide your visitors towards a single (and simple) call to action. And here’s the deal, this takes a combination of persuasive design and mental triggers. In marketing, the term conversion centered design is the principle of optimizing one web page to delight, intrigue, and inspire. Specifically, to delight, intrigue, and inspire someone to BUY! This is the key difference between a landing page and a web page; where a web page could be designed to inform, educate, or sell, a landing page is designed as a closing tool.
There’s a couple of really great ways that you can work towards optimizing your landing pages. One of the best ways I’ve discovered is called A/B testing. Simply put, this is where you create two versions of the same landing page with very very slight differences. These differences can be subtle like fonts, colors, or orientation of text, or they can be bigger like different pictures or different wording entirely. Your PPC campaign can be set up to alternate which landing page it sends visitors and over time, you’ll begin to see a clear difference in which landing page is outperforming the other. But don’t stop there. Keep adjusting and A/B testing. Eventually, you’ll figure out what elements create a landing page with an incredibly high chance of conversion.
YOU VS THE PROS
The biggest question I get asked is this, “Can’t I just do this myself? Why do I need a marketing agency to be the middleman?” Let me preface by saying that you totally can do this yourself. But there are a few things that you ought to consider before you jump into the world of PPC. Before you ever see your first lead, before you ever create the landing pages, before you ever launch a PPC campaign, and before you ever set up your AdWords account, you need to identify the content and keyword data.
Google processes 5.5 billion search functions per day. That’s a ton of words, so how do you stand out?
Your entire (and let me reiterate, your entire) campaign is going to be focused around your keyword data. Researching keywords involves discovering groups of keywords and phrases relevant to your niche, then using those words to turn the attention of searchers and potential buyers. It isn’t enough to trust your instincts with keywords. You might have a notion of what people are searching, but trust me when I say it’s probably not accurate enough.
If you read our first blog on what is SEOthen you’ll remember the Union Presbyterian Seminary story. In their case, they thought that UPS would be a great word to target, but no one considered that UPS is in direct search competition with United Parcel Service. With 5.5 billion searches daily, this is a more obvious example of less subtle realities that you would never just think of. Oh, and also don’t forget negative keywords…
What I’m saying is that unless you’ve got a few years under your belt, trust this to the professionals.
CREATING A CAMPAIGN
There are three main components to a PPC ad in Google. First, a headline, then a display URL, and a description. There are strict word count limitations when it comes to click campaigns and those often vary between social media platforms. Google AdWords allows you to show images in your PPC campaign (as does Facebook, for example). So if you’re thinking of creating a campaign, you’ll need to marry keywords, phrasing, and visuals into one eye-popping aggregate.
Finally, you’ll want to match your keywords (and often your visuals) on your landing page. This way, people have a clear flow from the thing they clicked to the thing they’re being asked to buy into.
Ok so that was a lot to begin with. So what have you learned? Well, setting up a PPC campaign is exciting, but also daunting. You need to lock down keywords (and negative keywords), visuals, and you need to establish a landing page (or pages), and if you do multiple landing pages, you need to A/B test them against each other. There’s quite a bit that goes into this, so before you jump in, make sure you do your research. And please, don’t self diagnose! Talk to the professionals.
If you’re still confused, just wait until we start talking about PPC’s cost-per-click, the bid/auction system, and managing your way through quality scores. Or just shoot us a message and let’s start talking, we love answering questions! Stay tuned for our next blog on PPC.