New to PPC – 5 Best Practices the Experts Swear By
Does your small or medium-size business have a website? Most likely, and you’ve probably taken some steps to drive traffic your way including SEO, email marketing, and social media engagement. But if you’re looking to give your site traffic a boost (and increase customer conversations), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) may be just the thing.
With PPC, you only pay for the ad when a visitor actually clicks on it and is redirected to a landing page of your choosing. PPC helps you get in front of people in search of your exact good or service, whether they’re around the globe or right in your backyard.
There’s a misconception out there that PPC ad campaigns are just for bigger companies; those with hundreds of employees and the acronym “Inc.” behind their name, but that’s just not so. It’s for everyone – small, medium and large businesses alike. You can have a brick and mortar store or online marketplace and regardless of size, structure, good or service, PPC advertising can work you. And if you’re just getting started, don’t worry. Like anything, there are true experts on the subject who devote their career to perfecting PPC, but you don’t have to be an expert to kick off a strong, difference-making campaign for your business. Here are a few best practices the experts swear by. (And they’re not that hard to do!)
- Start Small
If this is your first go-round with PPC advertising, start simple and build up from there. Get to know the basics and get confident building ads, keyword lists, and ad groups. Keep your initial budget low and focus on running a few ads. The data you receive just from that first foray is important and will help inform future, more complex, campaign work. You can really get into the weeds with PPC if you’re not careful, so stay simple at first and learn as you go.
- Key in on Keywords
As you begin building ads based on keyword lists, keep in mind that the price of most ads is different for every user, depending on how much other people are willing to pay for the same keyword. So, the more generic a keyword (aka, the more competitive) the higher the bid will be. Here are a couple of tips to secure the right keywords without going over budget.
- If you’re using Google Ads and getting priced out of more competitive keywords, consider running a similar campaign using Bing Ads. Bing has less competition for advertising bidding, so clicks are cheaper and advertisers, like you, get more bang for their buck. Bing reaches 63 million searchers that aren’t reached on Google Ads, and you don’t want to miss out on their unique audience.
- Bid on long-tail keywords, or phrases that are very specific to what you are selling. When customers use a highly specific search phrase, they are looking for exactly what they want to purchase. While you may not have as many clicks (since not as many people are searching for that exact phrase), they are less expensive, and those that do use it are more likely to convert.
- Integrate Your Audience to Make Every Dollar Count
Moving beyond keywords, businesses now have the opportunity to layer in audience targeting, timing, and demographics to get in front of the right people at the right time, making your ad relevant and useful. For example, using the Microsoft Audience Network, you can reach potential customers based on interests and preferences through Bing Ads using AI technology and machine learning. Other audience targeting capabilities include:
- Geo-targeting your audience based on region, city, even neighborhood.
- Focusing demographically on those most likely to make a purchase - for example, male aged 20-35, a university graduate, single.
- Remarketing: meaning someone has already visited your site but left without making a purchase. This kind of ad is strategically placed in front of them the next time they are performing a similar online search.
- Make Ads Mobile
An element of audience targeting, it’s important enough to stand alone. Year-after-year, more people are performing searches on mobile devices instead of desktops. That means, to start a strong campaign, your ads and landing pages need to be optimized for mobile users and target them. (Here’s a great Mobile PPC guide with much more information.) Making sure your ads and landing pages perform well on mobile are important for a couple of reasons:
- Ad platforms like Bing, Facebook, and Google expect your ad to provide value to its users. If your ad looks bad when someone is on a device, or if when they click on it, your landing page isn’t optimized for a mobile experience, they are going to lower your quality score (i.e. the usefulness of your ad). The lower the score, the more you are going to pay and the less likely your ad is viewed.
- If you do create ads that are meant for mobile users, are easy to navigate, and provide real value, your quality score goes up, your ad lowers in price and customers using their phones and tablets to search begin to convert.
- There’s No Such Thing as Cruise Control
Ok, your PPC is up and running (high five!), but now is not the time to set and forget. Instead, monitor the performance and make refinements along the way. Do this by utilizing customizable reporting features in your account. Track statistics about your campaign using a variety of metrics that matter to you. Running these reports will help you make better decisions about your budget, spend, ad and keyword performance, and audience targeting. You can even create report schedules, so essential information is hand-delivered to you on a regular basis.
PPC campaigns, no matter how big or small, can be effective if they are set up with intention, monitored and managed. Remember to start simple and always keep the needs and expectations of your prospective customers in mind. Ask yourself how they search, what they search on, what time of day and where. Use those answers to inform your campaign and make every dollar matter.