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A Small Business’s Guide to PPC

The core principles behind PPC are really quite simple. Your advert will appear during a relevant consumer search on keywords that you define and you pay a fee, based on the amount of competition around those keywords, if the consumer clicks on your ad. In this way PPC advertising is one of the most efficient and trackable marketing strategies for any small business looking to drive potential customers onto their website. When it comes to generating a successful PPC campaign however, a quality advert and relevant keywords are just the tip of the iceberg.

PPC advertising gets results but the competition can be fierce and the search engine results pages (SERPs) can at times feel like a battlefield, with thousands of businesses vying to get their advert on the first page for a whole range of competitive industry keywords and keyphrases. In addition to this fierce competition, search engines are constantly changing their PPC algorithms, requiring any effective campaign to have the knowledge and ability to keep track of it all.

Before even launching a PPC campaign then, there are a few steps every business needs to take.

Establish your Goals

The goals you choose will dictate the type of PPC account you need and the direction it takes. Consider carefully, and decide if you want your campaign to create a surge of traffic to your site, generate leads, establish brand awareness, or be a direct sales effort. Although it’s tempting to want to drive as much traffic to your site as possible, with a view to converting them all to sales, sometimes it might be more beneficial in the long run to generate some genuine brand awareness and get people talking about your company, your content and ultimately your products.

Determine your Advertising Budget

How much is each customer worth to your business and how much you are willing to spend to bring them in. Let’s say the average customer is worth $200 to your business and you are willing to spend $100 to get that customer. The next thing to work out is how many people you need to direct towards your landing page in order to get that customer (conversion rate). If you have a conversion rate of 10% then in order to insure an acceptable ROI you would want to pay no more than $5 a lead. (This calculation gets a lot more complicated when you consider how conversion rates can fluctuate based on all sorts of factors, from landing page to advertising text and things like AdWords Quality Score).

Find a good PPC Management Company

You could attempt running the campaign yourself, but unless you are an expert in PPC management, it is far more time and cost efficient to hire a professional company than to try managing it yourself.

Do you know your CPM from your CPC and CPA? Do you know the differences between impressions, hits, and views? Knowing what these things are is only half the battle, it’s understanding how they all individually affect your campaign and can influence each other.

What about your campaign settings? Should you have different ad groups for each region? Is it better to target different regions or a select area? Is your campaign losing money because of a poorly designed ad? Or is it due to poor choice in keywords and that your landing pages are completely off message?

Whilst it’s not beyond the wit of any small business owner to get to grips with these things, a good PPC management company will know how to set up an efficient and profitable campaign from the outset, a fact that will likely save you a lot of wasted money on a poorly optimised campaign. Moreover, managing a successful PPC campaign is a huge drain on time and can end up amounting to a full time job with the constant analysis and tweaking required; a job you probably don’t have time for. As with any business decision however, do your research and make sure the company you choose is reputable and is the right fit for your company.

Budgeting for a PPC Campaign

There are four primary ways a PPC management agency might charge you:

  • The most common form of payment is based on a percentage of the total monthly amount you spend on advertising, generally between 10% to 20%.
  • Other companies, however, may prefer to bill you at an hourly rate. Initial charges are high when you pay by the hour (as the agency invests time in building the campaign), but costs will be greatly reduced once the account is up and running.
  • The third option, perhaps the fairest of all, is that you pay for the quality of your account’s performance based upon pre-agreed metrics. Unfortunately, this method only works if the agency is able to track your entire system for conversions (which is complicated), or they trusts you to be completely honest with them regarding conversion (which is rare).
  • The fourth option relies on a fixed fee for each service offered by the management company. The result is generally clear-cut, as each management option you select for your account is simply added to your monthly bill.

Although it can require a bit of research to find the right PPC agency for your account, your efforts will be well rewarded. In the hands of a professional management agency, a pay per click advertising is one of the best ways of increasing online traffic for your business and meeting your online marketing goals.

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