PPC Management Guide | How to Start, What Tools to Use and More
August 16, 2021
Why is PPC marketing so important? Simply put, it’s essential—and it works. A third of people click on paid search ads because those ads directly answer their search query, making organic results virtually obsolete. Additionally, nearly half of all clicks on Google go to the top three paid search ad positions on a given search engine results page (SERP). Paid search is no longer a shady SEO tactic—it’s a legitimate option that results in enhanced reach for the business as well as a satisfied customer.
However, if you stop investing in paid search, you’ll find the gains are short-lived. Among businesses that have paused PPC ads, 89 percent have not been able to replace their paid search clicks with organic search traffic. The lesson? Take PPC marketing seriously from the start, and continue to bolster your strategy in the months and years to come.
The below guide will show you how to get started with PPC and how to navigate the occasionally confusing waters of pay-per-click advertising. You’ll learn everything you need to get started with PPC marketing today, while also learning what to expect as you enter the world of PPC.
In the minds of consumers, all PPC advertising is the same. And for many of those people, paid search starts and ends with Google. However, that’s not entirely true. Google’s dominance has led to a set of circumstances that might not be ideal for some businesses. For those companies, there are alternatives.
The gold standard in search engines, Google was the first company to offer PPC marketing as an option for businesses that wanted additional exposure. Google remains the industry leader in PPC marketing, in large part because its reach isn’t limited to Google search engine results pages.
Today, Google Ads are seen throughout Google’s network, including YouTube. This added reach is a huge bonus for businesses that want to do business with Google. Today there are a seemingly infinite number of companies in this space, with 96 percent of commerce organizations buying ads from Google. In the end, those businesses generally come away happy with the results — for every $1 they spend on Google Ads, they make $2.
Marketing is all about visibility. Why, then, would a marketer want to go with anything but the biggest and the best in PPC advertising?
Make no mistake, Google runs the show. And admittedly, Google’s market share dwarfs that of any other competitor. But with that popularity comes increased ad rates, potential privacy concerns and Google’s Draconian policies, including changing its algorithms and policies at a moment’s notice.
Using lesser-known PPC platforms like Microsoft Ads helps to reduce the cost of PPC marketing, making it an ideal solution for the business that isn’t quite ready to fight tooth and nail on Google’s platform just yet. Microsoft Ads is a powerful alternative in its own right. Microsoft’s ad network appears on Bing, AOL and Yahoo, and provides favorable metrics in comparison with Google Ads. Microsoft’s ads cost approximately 60 percent less per click, and have a click-through rate nearly 50 percent higher than Google’s.
Despite Microsoft’s metrics, the reality is that in search engine marketing, you have to be where people are searching. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, that’s Google. However, the strategies below will help you on both platforms.
PPC advertising isn’t a field you want to learn on the fly. It’s very helpful to enter this field with some knowledge of what to look for, as well as what you’re expecting to achieve for your business.
Knowing Your Goals
Without goals, it’s impossible to tell if you’re meeting expectations. But where do you start?
Think simple with your initial goals. While there are many KPIs you can use to measure your success in PPC, take a straightforward approach. Look at revenue, click-through rate and return on investment as early indicators of your progress. Have modest goals at first, but benchmark and continue to monitor as you go on. Over time, you should see your numbers improving, no matter where they might be when you start with PPC.
Have a Budget in Mind
One area where PPC marketing gets very confusing is in its pricing. Instead of outright buying ads, your company bids on the right for their ad to appear in response to a particular keyword. More popular keywords cost more, whereas niche ones may be cheaper but might not drive the traffic you’re looking for. Who wins the ad is determined by Google’s algorithm, which incorporates your bid amount, your page quality and a host of other factors.
Naturally, you shouldn’t bid any more than you’re prepared to lose, especially when you’re just learning how PPC works. Fortunately, both Google and Microsoft allow you to set a daily budget that won’t be exceeded. If your budget is gone after getting your first ad display of the day, that’s it until tomorrow. But at least you won’t spend thousands you didn’t want to spend. Google does offer a tool that recommends a certain amount to budget, but take their suggestions with a grain of salt — after all, Google survives by making money on your Ads expenditures.
Set Up Your Account Structure
With the initial groundwork laid, it’s time to get down to it. Here’s what you’ll be asked to prepare as you enter into the world of PPC marketing. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll approach this setup from the standpoint of creating a Google Ads account.
A campaign is the highest ranking group within your Google Ads account. You can have several different campaigns relating to different goals, such as different product lines or objectives.
Within the top-level campaigns are ad groups. Ad groups further break down your marketing objectives so that they can be managed and tracked separately. You can have separate ad groups for different products, promotions or even ad types. Each of these ad groups will roll up to the campaign, so you’ll always be able to keep organized.
Ads and Landing Pages
In simple terms, your ads are your marketing messages, and your landing pages are where people go when they click on those ads. Ads are text-based and need to get to the point, quickly and succinctly. When people click those ads, the landing page provides depth to the content of the ad and provides additional information. The landing page should follow the style of the ad, answer the questions posed by the ad and offer the reader a call to action — for example, signing up for email alerts or downloading exclusive content.
Keywords are the centerpiece of PPC marketing. All of the benefits of PPC are tied directly to having the right keywords. Choose keywords that are relevant to your audience, but aren’t so vague that they generate tons of competing bids from other businesses. Long-tailed keywords that combine a keyword with a location are highly effective, particularly for localized PPC advertising.
In a similar vein to long-tailed keywords, location targeting takes local-based PPC marketing to a whole new level. Through location targeting, you can have your ad display only to people within a specified area range — for instance, ten miles from your store. You can run location-based ads in one ad group and general ads in another, giving you local flair without sacrificing a global reach.
With PPC ads, you’re not beholden to running ads around the clock. Instead, you’re able to select the days and times at which you want to have your ads displayed. It will take time for you to determine which are the days and times at which your ads perform best. However, you’ll more easily see which times don’t work, allowing you to save money by avoiding those times.
Just as you can specify location in your PPC ads, you can also refine your exposure by selecting particular traits for your ad recipients. These traits aren’t just limited to simple demographics. You can also choose to target individuals based on their marital status, parenting status, education status and more.
Set Up Conversion Tracking
How do you know if your ads are working? By seeing how many people you’re converting, of course. But how do you get that information?
Conversion tracking is an option that is used by less than 50 percent of Google Ads customers. However, those that use conversion tracking convert at a rate of five percent or higher, whereas those that don’t use conversion tracking convert at less than one percent. In other words, it’s a really good idea to utilize conversion tracking.
Why is conversion tracking so important? Because a conversion might mean something different in every situation. In one ad, it might mean a purchase. In another, it could be an app download. For yet another, it might be an email signup. Conversion tracking will calculate all of these actions and let you know how successful your ads really are.
To utilize conversion tracking, you’ll have to insert some code into your website. However, once you’re set up, you can use conversion tracking to calculate your ROI and to optimize the timing and frequency of your ad bids.
Create a Landing Page
We touched briefly on landing pages in the Getting Started section, but since landing pages are critical to your success in PPC, it’s worth spending a little more time on this topic. The landing page is the first thing a user will see after clicking your ad. It’s got to be good. This is your chance to sell the consumer on your company and your product offerings.
Create a page that builds on what’s in your ad. Write copy that expands on the points made in your ad, while adding in important information where necessary. Use a clean layout that looks good on both mobile and desktop, especially if you have a signup form on your page (which you should). Skip all the fancy images and videos, because they’ll only slow down your page load time and send the viewer off to look for another site. Lastly, remember that the landing page is solely for people that clicked on that ad, so don’t add in extraneous information that’s not relevant to the searcher’s objective.
Don’t make landing pages too complicated. Ask yourself one simple question — if I clicked on my ad, what would I want to find? Use that as your starting point and go from there.
Write Effective Ad Copy
You don’t have a lot of space to be eloquent in Google Ads. You only have 30 characters for a headline and 90 characters for a description. You need to make those characters count.
The best thing to do is come up with a headline that works. It has to immediately define your business and state what makes it unique. A slogan or a unique trait works best. Since you may be an unknown entity to most searchers, it’s better to use a characteristic instead of your company name in your headline.
Your description should be a well-worded teaser of what the viewer can expect to find if they click the link to your site. Aim for credibility without sounding shady or making false promises. Remember, your ad will be shown to relevant audiences, so you don’t need to explain every little thing about what you do. However, whatever you write, it should be concluded with a compelling call to action that entices the viewer to click.
One of the best things about PPC marketing is that you don’t have to do it all alone. There are plenty of resources out there — many of them free — that you can use as you get started. The following tools will be essential to your success, so make liberal use of them.
- Google Ads Editor and Microsoft Ads Editor: Tools to make bulk changes on your account. Make local changes on your computer and push live when you are ready.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner: Conduct keyword research by identifying trends and forecasting search volume.
- SEMRush: Research keywords and competitors on one platform.
- Google Trends: Provides additional information on keyword search volume and trends.
- Google Ads Skillshop: Free classes hosted by Google demonstrating the basics of Google Ads. Includes certifications for those who pass end-of-course assessments.
- Google Ads Auction Insights: See what competitors are bidding on the same keywords as you. Includes helpful metrics such as overlap between your business and competitors, as well as impression share.
PPC marketing can be intimidating, and there’s a bit of a learning curve, even if you know what to expect. Working with a PPC agency can help you to learn the ropes quickly, setting up your business for success right off the bat. For assistance in getting started with PPC, contact us at Commit Agency today.